Get Organized! A Baby Cheapskate Guide to Frugal and Fabulous Toy Storage

Get Organized! A Baby Cheapskate Guide to Frugal and Fabulous Toy StorageEnjoy this “reprint” of a popular BC post:

My husband and I figured we’d be parents whose houses would never be overrun by toys and whose child would enjoy a well-edited assortment of aesthetically pleasing, educational, and mostly silent playthings. {insert rueful laughter here} Let’s just blame what really happened on generous, if not so disciplined relatives.

What starts out as an infant’s small collection of rattles and lovey bears so easily snowballs into mounds of plastic play food, Hot Wheels, construction toys, and puzzle pieces. If you’re like us, you ask yourself, what do we do with it all? And how do we do it frugally?

Looking at the toy storage photos submitted last week by Baby Cheapskate readers (view the entire album), we see a two major similarities. The most prevalent is the use of bins, baskets and boxes to corral smaller items rather than a large toy box (though some families do use toy boxes along with bins). The other is the use of furniture that isn’t specifically made for toys, but that can be reused and repurposed for years to come in various rooms of the house.

Bins, boxes and baskets allow you to keep small and medium-sized toys together. Some parents also like them because they allow them to rotate toys available to their child so that they’re not always playing with the same thing. Deep bins are good for keeping toys out of sight when they’re put away, while shallow bins allow young kids to see what they have and easily reach the toys they want.

Bins, boxes and baskets can come from your own closets, from the dollar store, or from the thrift store. They don’t have to cost much at all. Get creative! One reader picked up trash cans from the dollar store to fit inside an IKEA Expedit storage unit (top right). Collapsable leaf bins make great stuffed animal storage and can even double as toddler “tunnels” (right). Plastic milk crates, see-through bins, and even laundry baskets can hold larger toys. Even old suitcases can become toy storage pieces (left) that close and slide right under the couch and out of sight at the end of the day. Even shoe boxes and other product boxes can be put to good use.

For super-bonus organizer points, affix labels with photos or the names of the toys to the bins they belong in!

Multipurpose shelving and storage. To really stretch your storage dollar, create storage solutions that you’ll be able to use long after Mr. Potato Head has been put away. This doesn’t necessarily mean investing $200 in a big IKEA Expedit unit (though they look great); the most frugal toy storage idea submitted by our readers didn’t require buying a thing. The family simply turned a closet into dedicated toy storage that they can shut the door on at the end of the day (right). Others surrendered their media center or built-ins to the worthy cause of toy organization. Another family used vintage wooden peach crates to create their own version of cubicle storage. Super frugal thrift store and Craigslist finds submitted by readers include a $10 handmade wooden cabinet (love the green!) and a vintage trunk (left).

A few considerations before you commit to a particular organizational system:

  • Get out a tape measure and a notepad and survey the toys your child currently has. Are they mostly small (LEGO, Hot Wheels, plastic figures, etc.), large (Pound a Pegs, Ride Ons, Giant Stuffed Bears), or some of each? Are they mostly rectangular (board games, puzzles) or irregularly sized? Craft a storage system that will keep all they toys tidy, regardless of size. Make sure the shelving you choose is tall and wide enough for the toys you want to put on it. If you look at the submitted photos, you’ll see that many of the units have a variety of storage solutions–an area for puzzles, an area for trucks, an area that allows access to small toys, an area for stuffed animals, etc.
  • Consider your lifestyle. If your child plays in your main living area, it makes sense to create storage there rather than hauling toys to and from a playroom or bedroom. And if so, how important is it for you to minimize the presence of toys in your main living area? If you want them completely out of site, you’ll want to opt for deep bins or cabinets rather than open shelving.
  • Picture your child as a teenager. Can you imagine use for your storage unit or shelving then? If your storage unit is going to stick around, invest in a piece that suits your decor or that can fit in a pantry or basement. If you know it’s temporary, it’s fine to choose inexpensive “kiddie” stuff.
  • Make sure your toy storage solution leaves some breathing room for future toy “expansion,” because, yep, most likely your child will have even more toys than she does now!

Readers, what are your best “frugal toy storage” tips?

cover photo contributed by BC reader Shannon

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2014 “Buy it Now’ Prices for 40 Top Toys [Part 2 - Bigger Kids]

Here’s the second part of BC’s 2014 toy “Buy Price” list. You can see the first part (and read more about what this is) here.

Note: The first price is the list price and the second is the recommended “buy-it-now” price. These “Buy It Now” prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price or even with current prices. You can beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

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Think any of these “Buy” prices are out of line? Let me know!

Related:

More Buy-it-Now prices

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2014 “Buy it Now’ Prices for 40 Top Toys [Part 1 - Little Kids]

We’ve talked about which toys have proven track records. Now it’s time to figure out the “Buy Price” for the toys on the lists.

Typically, you can expect toys to go to about 40% off list price around the holidays. Not all of them will, though. Some will only go as low as about 20% off, and the hottest and newest toys may be in such high demand that they don’t go on sale much at all.

Tracking past sales and price histories allow us to estimate the price a smart shopper should pay for these toys. Could the price go lower? Sure. Whether you wait to see if it does depends on your tolerance for risk.

So here we go, starting with toys for the littlest kids. I’ll be breaking the post into two parts due the the amount of info I’ll be dishing up. The links go to Amazon so that you can learn more and read reviews.

Note: The first price is the list price and the second is the recommended “buy-it-now” price. These “Buy It Now” prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price or event he current price. You can beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

The Toys

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Think any of these “Buy” prices are out of line? Let me know!

Next: “Buy it Now’ Prices for 40 Top Toys [Part 2 - Bigger Kids]

See all the Toys That Get Played with Lists

More Buy-it-Now prices:

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10 Hot New Toys for Kids 2-4 [With Buy-It-Now Prices]

The holiday toy books are out, and this year’s crop of fun-looking new toys can be overwhelming. Which will get played with? Which should you skip?

What makes a good toy?

Good toys have certain things in common. They

  • Can be used in more than one way as kids grow and learn.
  • Let kids be creative. They allow kids to create imagined worlds and scenarios.
  • Encourage extended attention. Kids play with them for more than a minute.
  • Foster  skill development. The best toys help kids build language, motor, social or problem solving skils while they play.
  • Appeal to the senses. They’re fun to look at, touch, and listen to.

I’ve pored through the biggest of the books and chosen toys appropriate for tots two to four years old that could easily be contenders for future Toys that Get Played with Lists.

I’ve linked to the toys at Amazon so that you can learn more and read customer reviews. I’m also including Buy-It-Now prices.

“Buy-It-Now” (BIN) prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price or the current price. You may be able to  beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

The Toys

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Tomorrow: 12 Hot New Toys for Kids 5-7 [With Buy-It-Now Prices

Related:  

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

12 Hot New Toys for Babies and Toddlers [With Buy-It-Now Prices]

The holiday toy books are out, and this year’s crop of fun-looking new toys can be overwhelming. Which will get played with? Which should you skip?

What makes a good toy?

Good toys have certain things in common. They

  • Can be used in more than one way as kids grow and learn.
  • Let kids be creative. They allow kids to create imagined worlds and scenarios.
  • Encourage extended attention. Kids play with them for more than a minute.
  • Foster  skill development. The best toys help kids build language, motor, social or problem solving skils while they play.
  • Appeal to the senses. They’re fun to look at, touch, and listen to.

I’ve pored through the biggest of the books and chosen some that could easily be contenders for future Toys that Get Played with Lists.

I’ve linked to the toys at Amazon so that you can learn more and read customer reviews. I’m also including Buy-It-Now prices.

“Buy-It-Now” (BIN) prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price. You may be able to  beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

The Toys

Today I’m featuring toys for the two and under set. take a look:12 Hot New Toys for Babies and Toddlers [With Buy-It-Now Prices]

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Tomorrow: 12 Hot New Toys for Kids 2-4 [With Buy-It-Now Prices

Related:  Baby Cheapskate’s Famous Toys that Get Played With Lists

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The 2014 BC Guide to Choosing a Play Kitchen [And Buy-It-Now Prices, Too]

The 2014 BC Guide to Choosing a Play Kitchen [And Buy-It-Now Prices, Too]Play kitchens are on our all star toys list. They’re hits for both girls and boys from about age two to age five. With all the models out there, how can you pick the best play kitchen for your home?

This guide will help. It’s even got buy-it-now prices so you know when you’re getting a great deal. Enjoy!

Considerations

  • Consider your space carefully. How much room do you have? Would a corner kitchen work better than a straight one? Take time to measure your available width and depth before your shop.
  • Consider your budget before you buy so that you won’t be tempted to spend more than you should. Kitchens list from about $60 to $300 and up.
  • Consider checking your favorite second-hand sources for a gently used kitchen.
  • Does then kitchen need to allow room for more than one kid to play at once? A larger kitchen or a kitchen with two-sided play can help avoid squabbles.
  • Do you care if the kitchen you choose requires batteries? Most of the plastic kitchens need them to power lights, bells, whistles, etc.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a “simple” kitchen. Kids are creative and will fill in for the missing bells and whistles with their imaginations. Electronic bells and whistles can get annoying for grownups, too.
  • Allow plenty of time for assembly. The wooden kitchens generally take longer to put together than the plastic kitchens.
  • Does the kitchen offer room for play food and utensil storage? If not, think about how you’ll corral those small pieces.
  • Be prepared to secure the kitchen to the wall if you think there’s any possibility of tipping.

Popular Kitchens and Buy-It-Now Prices

All of these kitchens are top sellers with great ratings. I’ve linked to these kitchens at Amazon so that you can learn more and read customer reviews. Unless otherwise noted, the appropriate age for these kitchens is 3 and up.

“Buy It Now” prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the “lowest price ever” price. You may be able to  beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

Note that the buy-it-now prices may be up to 45% of the list prices. Expect to see lots of deals on play kitchens in the weeks starting after Halloween.

See the kitchens after the jump.

[Read more...]

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9 New Electronic Learning Toys for Kids [Plus Reviews and Buy-it-Now Prices]

9 New Electronic Learning Toys for Kids [Plus Reviews and Buy-it-Now Prices]The children’s electronic toy market is still growing like crazy. Choosing the one that’s perfect for your kids can be confusing. I’ve put together this intro to the newest kids’ electronic learning toys out there. I’ve linked to the items at Amazon where possible so that you can learn more, and I’ve also found some great reviews on them elsewhere on the web. Plus, I’m including buy-it-now prices so you know if you’re getting a great deal.

If you’re new to my Buy-It-Now price lists, here’s what you need to know: “Buy It Now” (BIN) prices are what I consider “very good” prices on the item. They’re the best sale prices you can expect to find fairly regularly, based on records of previous sales. Don’t confuse these with the current price (although they may be the same) or the “lowest price ever” price. You may be able to beat this price if you happen onto a unusually great sale.

The Toys:

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Vtech

VTech Kidzoom Smart Watch Features video recorder, touch screen, timer, alarm clock, rechargeable battery, and more. Comes with four learning games. Ages 4-7. Review. Review. MSRP $60. Buy-it-Now Price: $40

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.27.25 AMVTech Innotab 3 Plus Features 4.3″ touch screen, 180-degree rotating camera, mp3 player, 4G of  memory plus microSD card slot and rechargeable battery. Comes with 12 apps. Ages 3-9. Review. MSRP $60. Buy-it-Now Price: $40

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.28.15 AMVTech Innotab 3s Plus Features 5″ touch screen. 180-degree rotating camera, mp3 player. Wi-fi enabled. Smartphone app lets parents communicate with the device. 4G of memory plus MicroSD card slot. Rechargeable battery. Comes with 16 apps. Review. MSRP: $80. Buy-it-Now Price: $56

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.29.00 AMVTech Innotab Max Features 7″ touch screen (higher resolution than 3 Plus and 3s Plus) and 8G of memory plus microSD slot. 180-degree rotating camera, mp3 player. Faster processor than 3 Plus and 3s Plus, but shorter battery life. Wi-fi enabled. Includes 18 installed apps. Ages 3-9. MSRP unknown. Review. MSRP: $110. Buy-it-Now Price: $77.

Compare Innotab features across models

LeapFrog

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.29.55 AMLeapFrog LeapBand 4-7 This is one of those toys that parents buy not necessarily because they think their kids will go nuts over it, but because it will encourage them to do something healthy–i.e., get moving. Comes with 50 active challenges. Virtual pets guide kids through activity challenges.Waterproof band. Fitness tracker. Ages . Review. MSRP: $40. Buy-it-Now Price: $28

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.31.21 AMLeapTV LeapFrog’s first console game system. Play with body motion, pointer play and classic control. 100+ available cartridge games. Includes console, camera, mount, transforming controller, HDMI cable, AC power adapter, 16GB of memory and built-in Wi-Fi/Ethernet port for downloads. Trusted Reviews says “think of it as a cross between a Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Kinect.” Ages 3-9. Release date: October 24. MSRP $149. Buy-it-Now Price: $112

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.49.48 AMLeapPad 3 Features 4G memory, front and rear-facing cameras and video recorder. 10 installed apps. Wi-fi enabled. Rechargeable battery. Ages 3-9. Review. MSRP $100. Buy-it-Now Price: $70

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.31.57 AMLeapPad Ultra XDI 7″ tablet with a high-resolution touch screen. Wi-fi enabled. Features 8G memory, front and rear-facing cameras and video recorder. 10 installed apps. Rechargeable battery. Ages 4-9. Review.  MSRP $130. Buy-it-Now Price: $91

And….

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.33.12 AMKindle Fire HD Kids Edition  $149 for 6″ display, $189 for 7″ display.  Comes with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited and Kid-Proof Case. Will be released on October 21. Review. Review. MSRP $149. Buy-it-Now Price: $149

Related: Baby Cheapskate’s 2014 Toys that Get Played With Lists

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Toys That Get Played With 2014: 7 to 8 Years

Toys That Get Played With 2014: 7 to 8 Years

Welcome to the 2014 updates of Baby Cheapskate’s “Toys That Get Played With” lists. The toys on this list are here for one reason and one reason alone – because kids love them and continue to play with them long after the holiday decor is boxed up.

There’s no one toy that every kid likes, but the toys on the list have proven track records among Baby Cheapskate readers when it comes to appeal and longevity. Each toy is linked to its listing on Amazon so that you can learn more about it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 9.55.19 AMMost Loved Toys for Kids 7 to 8 Years Old

*All-Star toys are toys that often see active play for MORE than a year. Read more about them here.

You can find this and other holiday-themed lists under the Toys that Get Played With tab at the top of BabyCheapskate’s home page.

Related:

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Toys That Get Played With 2014: 6 to 7 Years

Toys That Get Played With 2014: 6 to 7 YearsWelcome to the 2014 updates of Baby Cheapskate’s “Toys That Get Played With” lists.

The toys on this list are here for one reason and one reason alone – because kids love them and continue to play with them long after the holiday decor is boxed up.

There’s no one toy that every kid likes, but the toys on the list have proven track records among Baby Cheapskate readers when it comes to appeal and longevity. Each toy is linked to its listing on Amazon so that you can learn more about it.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 1.45.06 PMMost Loved Toys for Kids 6 to 7 Years Old

*All-Star toys are toys that often see active play for MORE than a year. Read more about them here.

You can find this and other holiday-themed lists under the Toys that Get Played With tab at the top of BabyCheapskate’s home page.

Related:

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.

Toys That Get Played With 2014: 4 to 5 Years

Toys That Get Played With 2014: 4 to 5 YearsWelcome to the 2014 updates of Baby Cheapskate’s “Toys That Get Played With” lists. The toys on this list are here for one reason and one reason alone – because kids love them and continue to play with them long after the holiday decor is boxed up.

There’s no one toy that every kid likes, but the toys on the list have proven track records among Baby Cheapskate readers when it comes to appeal and longevity. Each toy is linked to its listing on Amazon so that you can learn more about it.

Most Loved Toys for Kids 4 to 5 Years Old

*All-Star toys are toys that often see active play for MORE than a year. Read more about them here.

You can find this and other holiday-themed lists under the Toys that Get Played With tab at the top of BabyCheapskate’s home page.

Related:

This post may contain affiliate links. See BC's disclosure policy for more info.