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The average ten-year-old has 238 toys! And yet, despite the incredible number of toys in our homes, our children’s appetites for more never seem satisfied.
New toys are expensive. And the time you spend working to fund your kids’ collections is far more valuable.
Of course, children do need some toys.
Because play is the work of childhood, and toys are their tools.
But you don’t have to choose between providing your children with new toys and budgeting your time and money.
Instead, you can make the old toys your kids already have new again, using any of the six ways below.
Six Ways To Make Old Toys New Again
1. Change Locations
If you notice that a particular toy isn’t getting much love, try moving it to a new spot.
Seeing it in a new light just might inspire your kids to put it to good use again.
A few years ago, a friend shared that she wanted to give away her daughters’ toy kitchen, which they no longer used.
So she put it on the deck to make room until her husband could bring it to the Salvation Army.
Instead, her daughters noticed it out there and put it to new use, making mud pies and hose water tea for hours that summer.
Since her girls showed renewed interest in the toy, and it was no longer taking up room in her home, it stayed.
2. Rotate Things In And Out Of Storage
Leave only the number of toys in your children’s play area that comfortably fit.
For our family, that is about one fourth of the kids’ total collection.
Pack the rest into clear plastic bins, label them, and store them in the garage, attic, or closet.
I recommend doing this when your children are out of the house the first time, and involving them in the decision-making process the next.
Leave out only the most high-quality toys that encourage imaginative play.
Of course, you should never pack away a truly favorite or beloved item, because you want this process to alleviate stress, not add to it.
If your children notice and ask for a specific toy back, you can let them choose another toy to send in to storage in its place.
I recommend rotating some or all of the bins in and out of storage each season.
This gives kids a steady flow of new toys simply by limiting their access to what they already have.
3. Sell Outgrown Or Unused Toys On eBay To Fund New Purchases
Some toys won’t be worth the shipping cost to a buyer, but many smaller toys will.
Fads like Shopkins, trading cards and video games can recoup quite a bit of their original value.
Lego kits also tend to sell very well.
If you have a child who enjoys building with them, I recommend buying them pre-owned on ebay and reselling them with the instructions and box after your child has finished and is ready to purchase a new set.
4. Shop Yardsales
Make someone else’s old toys new to your family by shopping at yard sales or garage sales.
Large multi-family sales, church rummage sales or community yard sale days will provide the best selection.
Give each child a budget ahead of time, make the rounds to each table, and then let your kids choose their “new” toys.
They probably won’t find that hot new toy they’ve been agonizing over.
But the thrill of the hunt and the discovery of small treasures will be even better.
We’ve found Legos, a scooter, Barbie accessories and even a wooden dollhouse for a tiny fraction of their retail values.
5. Host A Yard Sale
Gather your kids’ outgrown or unused toys, wash and repair them as needed, and have a yard sale.
This will give your family’s old gear new life in other homes, and help fund some new toy purchases for your own kiddos.
My parents had five kids, and my mom stayed home to raise us for most of my life.
After feeding all of those hungry mouths, there wasn’t a ton of extra money for things like new toys and trendy clothes.
My mom answered that challenge by holding yard sales where we could sell our own old toys to earn money for new ones.
And having to give up some of the things we already had in order to get new ones made the reward that much sweeter.
It also made us think carefully about each new toy before we spent our hard-earned money on it.
6. Organize A Toy Swap
Find a local community center, church or clubhouse where you can host a neighborhood toy swap.
Advertise it well in advance for the best results.
Families should drop off their outgrown or unused toys in good clean working condition the night before the event.
In exchange, give each family one ticket for each toy or toy set.
They can use the tickets the following day to “buy” toys that others have dropped off.
Turn this in to a charity event by charging a small fee, perhaps five dollars, for participation, and donating the proceeds to an advertised cause.
Everything Old Is New
Don’t work yourself to the bone to buy toys that your kids will grow tired of sooner than later.
Instead, help them see old toys in new light.
Place them out of sight or change their place in the home.
When new toys are called for, make room and a budget for them by selling or trading in some older ones that are no longer used.
Make a habit of making old toys new again for your children.
Then you will never have to choose between providing them with the tools they nee for play and having time free from work to be a family.
What are some ways that you stretch the time between new toy purchases? Have you tried any of the methods suggested here?