It’s the season of giving, (i.e. the season of giving gifts your child will play with once before they are broken/become too boring). Instead of shelling out your hard-earned cash for a short-lived, annoyingly expensive toy, why not try these money-saving options on for size:
Will you be attending a Tupperware party soon? (Do they even hold Tupperware parties anymore?) Bring your toddler along! Let them choose their favorite sizes and materials, but make sure the colors coordinate with the overall scheme of your house, as you will soon find the lids everywhere.
2. A cardboard box
If you order diapers and wipes at the same time off of Amazon, you might be as lucky as I was and receive them in a big 2 x 1.5 x 3 foot box! Enjoy hours of “me time” as your toddler climbs in and out over and over again — with pauses every 10 minutes to bang on one of the sides while shouting excitedly.
3. A ream of paper
You’ve seen those videos on Youtube of babies laughing at ripping paper? Toddlers love it too, though they just don’t always laugh as hard. Ripping, crumpling, and sticking it in their mouth, however, and the possibilities are endless. Brave mommies can even break out the markers or paint as long as they take the proper precautions (namely covering the entire house in plastic).
By now your toddler knows the difference between real car keys and the plastic kid-friendly car keys, and they will accept nothing but the genuine article. (Do they just love making us late to things? You tell me.) Luckily you can buy uncut keys pretty cheap from home improvement stores. Buy a pack, stick them on a ring, and enjoy knowing where your real keys are at all times (ha!).
5. An unconnected light switch
You were so proud the day you taught your toddler how to flip a light switch, but now you have come to rue that decision. If you’re like me and can’t pass a light switch without your child reaching out and trying to flip it (and throwing a fit if they’re denied), then this might be the toy for your bundle of destructive joy. Once again, a quick visit to a home improvement store could mean peace on Earth … or at least adequate lighting in your home.
6. A bundle of sticks
If they don’t have sticks in your part of the world (the Sahara desert? Tell me if I’m close …) then markers with their caps superglued on will do the trick. Your toddler will love grabbing as many as possible in one hand and simply walking around the house babbling excitedly about their bounty. Every once in a while they will pause to throw or drop one, and then continue the parade. Bonus: you can use the trail of sticks to work off some of that holiday insulation — squat to pick them up!
7. A hairbrush
There’s apparently something oddly satisfying about a hairbrush. Whether it’s the hollow sound it makes when banged against an unyielding surface, the pleasing feel of bristles against gums, or the squeaky-when-wet rubber grip on the handle — it’s hard to deny the fun that can be had with a simple toiletry.
8. A keyboard
“Liar!” you just shouted at your computer screen. “She said these were money-saving options!” Fear not, oh ye of little anger management. Two words: thrift shops. Now when you’re hard at work *cough* Facebook! *cough* your toddler can type along at your feet.
9. A roll of toilet paper
Does this need an explanation? They’ll love it. Trust me.
10. A dog food bowl
You can’t keep your toddler out of the pet’s food bowl, so why not buy them their own? You can fill it with Goldfish, Cheerios, blueberries, or whatever you’d like. Plus, it will be fun explaining to friends and neighbors why you opted out of a high chair.
Seriously, though, consider all of these for a less-expensive holiday this year. If you set the bar low while they’re young, you can get away with buying them socks when they’re 10 and a sweater when they’re 16. At least, I’m hoping that’s how this works … lie to me and tell me that’s how this works.