When Toy Story first came out in 1995, Andy was a relatable character for many 90s kids. He had a neat collection of toys (albeit autonomous toys that talked whenever humans weren’t around), and the coolest toy he could think of was Buzz Lightyear. Fast-forward to 2013: kids these days don’t seem to be content unless they get a new gaming system, smartphone, iPod, tablet…you get the point. Even then, they’ll grow bored with their new toys within a year or so.
Shopping for the winter holidays is more stressful than ever (and starting earlier and earlier each year!), but rather than falling into the trap of overspending out of holiday cheer this winter, limiting your budget for kids’ toys isn’t as difficult as it may seem:
Black Friday & Cyber Monday
If you don’t mind crowds and staying up late, going to Walmart, Target, or Toys R Us on Black Friday (Nov. 29 this year) can be a great way to save on everything from Playstations to LEGO sets. The kids’ toys section is generally less crowded than say, electronics and games departments, but you’ll have to put up with long lines (before and after you get into the store) in order to score sweet deals on gifts for your kids. The good news is that you can get your holiday shopping done while they’re at home asleep, but unless dealing with manic crowds and people who might pick fights with you over a toy (it’s happened several times before, folks), you may want to avoid the Black Friday frenzy and shop from the safety of your own home on Cyber Monday instead.
Businesses are doing everything they can to boost sales this holiday season, which means you’ll be seeing a lot more coupons both in newspaper ads and online between now and New Years’. Local newspaper ads are great places to start looking for deals on children’s toys, but websites like SumoCoupon also have dozens of coupons and coupon codes just for toys and games.
Thrift Stores and Garage Sales
For more frugal parents who don’t want to drop hundreds of dollars on the latest and greatest toys this year (in this economy, who wants to, anyway?), scout around local secondhand stores and garage sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas/Hanukkah/etc. Although demand is at its peak this time of year, many parents are also donating their kids’ old toys to make room for the new ones they’ll be getting in December. Oftentimes you can find great bargains on toys that have barely been played with and even if they’re “last year’s models” it’s still preferable to paying an arm and a leg for the latest gadgets that toy developers have come up with.
If you have several kids or know other parents with older kids (neighbors, relatives, fellow PTA members, colleagues, etc.), consider asking around for toys their kids don’t use anymore. Some parents even create toy swaps to help save on the cost of toys while ensuring their kids have something new to play with after the winter holidays. It’s frugal and simple: why not?
Another alternative (if you’re the crafty type) is to skip buying altogether and make toys for your kids. The personal touch makes these toys all the more valuable and whether you knit/sew clothes, build a model train, or make your own dolls, you can keep these creations for years to come and perhaps even pass them on to your grandkids someday.