How to Make Your Toddler's Holiday Without Breaking the Bank

toddler christmasThere's nothing quite as adorable as a toddler on Christmas morning. From the second they open their eyes, it's just a crazy blur of pajama-clad bottoms scampering out of bed and wrapping paper flying through the air and cardboard boxes being ripped apart and enough electricity in the air to keep the lights on the tree blinking until New Year's Eve.

The holidays are truly magical for little ones, which is why, as parents, we want every gift they open to fill them with awe and delight.

Which is why, as parents, we'll pay just about any price to make that happen.

But here's a secret: Toddlers don't actually keep up on which playthings made the Top 10 Most Wanted Toys list. They don't care if you stood in line for five hours on Black Friday to snag the last whatever-it-is on the shelf.

They like to rip shiny paper off boxes and see what's inside.

So you CAN play Santa without having to take out a second mortgage on the house. Here's how!

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Start a Toy Swap: You know how whenever you have a playdate, your kid is immediately fascinated with whatever toys the other kid has? And the other mom is always like, "Huh, I spent 50 bucks on that thing and my kid played with it once!" It's just one of those toddler rules: What's mine is boring, what's his is better. Get together with your mom pals (sans kids) and orchestrate a big switcheroo!

Try Freecycle: If you've never Freecycled, well, you must. It's basically like Craigslist, except everything is free (the only other difference is that donations are delivered, you generally have to pick up whatever you want). Over 5,000 cities have Freecycle groups, so chances are there's one in your area, and parents are always unloading barely used toys, clothes, books, and more. Score!

Make like an Elf: Guess what? You don't need the skills of Martha Stewart to create homemade toys and games your toddler will love just as much (if not more) as anything that came out of a factory. True, something you put together with a glue gun won't last forever, but neither will your kid's interest in that overpriced plastic contraption doomed to end up in a landfill. Use your imagination: With odds and ends like cardboard boxes, glue, paper, colored markers, pipe cleaners, old socks (or towels or scraps of fabric), ribbons, and the like, you can make everything from a puppet theater to a beanbag toss to a play stove to a castle ... you get the idea.

How will you save money on toddler toys this holiday season?

 

Image via originallittlehellraiser/Flickr

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