It can be difficult to stay ahead of trends in children’s toys, which can seem like they’re there just to pick holes in your parenting. Do you hand over big money every time a new toy comes out and risk getting trapped in a cycle of big payments and new crazes that you can’t afford, or do you make your child go without and risk them missing out on something that all their friends have.
This list hopes to show you some creative ways to get the best of both worlds and avoid that feeling of dread when a new advert comes on TV for the next must-have. Chances are that other parents feel the same way, so hopefully there are some tips on this list you can put into practice.
Test the waters
Toy Library – Try a toy library near you where there are toys for all ages that you can spend time with at the library, or borrow for a set time rather than buying. You might even want to use the toy library to let the kids try out the toys they’ve been wanting before deciding whether to make the commitment to buy it. If you’re going there to try out a specific toy, you may want to call ahead to check they have it before making the journey down there. If they don’t have it, why not try out some other toys there that might be even better!
Friends – If they regularly play with a toy at a friend’s house, do they really need to have their own? See if they can borrow the toy for a while, but make sure they understand that it needs to be returned in the same condition it was given to them. If their friend is reluctant to lend it, try inviting the friend over and ask them to bring the toy.
Arrange toy swaps
Host a swap night – If you’re friendly with a good number of parents, try getting together to trade toys that your children no longer use. An ideal scenario would be to have a group of parents with children of a range of ages, so the older toys can be passed to the next oldest and the baby toys given to parents with newborns etc.
Share the cost of toy-buying – If you’re particularly close with another family with children, like cousins or close family friends, try setting up a swapping system where new toys are shared amongst the families. You can alternate which family buys the toy and make the swaps every time the families meet, or you might see each other so regularly that physical swapping isn’t necessary.
Buy second hand
Hold on a little while – Try waiting until the toy has been out for a while, and you might be able to grab a pre-owned one for a cheaper price on eBay. Many sellers will keep the original box, so it’ll feel like new when you receive it. Make sure you check its condition before you make the purchase so you’re not buying something that’s broken or damaged – especially if your kids are likely to be upset by any signals that it’s secondhand. If it’s a large item, couriers like Shiply can deliver these for you – but remember to factor delivery prices into your budget so you don’t end up paying more than what it costs in your local shop.