Author Topic: Advice for Toy Drive  (Read 2923 times)

Dezrah

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Advice for Toy Drive
« on: November 15, 2016, 12:55:41 PM »
I need some advice on finding the happy middle ground on the cheap/frugal/generous/overly-generous scale. 

I've signed up to participate in my company's toy drive.  The information I have for the recipient is she is a 2 year old female who would like a kitchen playset.  The card also notes she loves to play with her older sister though the sister's age isn't mentioned. 

Growing up, our plastic kitchen playset was one of our favorite toys for many, many years.  I never realized that these things are surprisingly expensive and are easily over $150 for highly rated sets.  The items priced closer to the $50 level look incredibly cheap, like they'll just fall apart after a day's use.

If it's too cheap or babyish, it's just going to be thrown away in a few months by either breaking or being outgrown.  At the same time, I worry that the quality sets might be too big or cluttered for what I can only guess is a necessarily small household.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the price point scares me as well.  I'm not in the habit of buying expensive gifts for people and this number knots my stomach.  It doesn't help that we just got back from a vacation where it felt like we did nothing but spend outrageous amounts of money and all I want to do for a few months is sit back and let the cushion build up again.

I guess what I'm looking for is a consensus on how to proceed.  We have no debt, are already maxing all the tax-advantaged accounts, and are professional DINKS if it's relevant.

A) Buy something cheap.  Toddlers don't care.  All toys will be forgotten in a few weeks anyway so don't waste the money.

B) Get something nice.  It's a greater waste to buy something borderline disposable.  Plus it's really for two kids, not just the one.

C) Buy this [link] particular playset because [reasons listed].

D) Be creative and buy a related quality product that's cheaper (like toy food).  The kid won't care and the parents really don't have the right to complain.

Thank you all for your time.

Sibley

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2016, 01:15:09 PM »
D.

Any surface will work as a "kitchen". Get the toy food, toy cookware, etc.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2016, 01:16:06 PM »
You are overthinking this.

It is a gift. The parent/guardian put down things the kid either has shown to like playing with or needs (sometimes used to get all clothes/shoes). You do not have to buy exactly what is on the list, it is there for a guide/suggestions. And no one expects you to spend hundreds of dollars on a single item either.

Buy something in your price range that a 2 year old might like to play with. Since they suggest the kid likes playing with the kitchen playset, look around for something in your price range that is imagination play like your option D. Pots/pan sets with fake food was a HUGE hit with the kids when I used to work with toddlers up through kindergarten. They do not need a play stove/fridge/sink because at that age, they can pretend VERY well.   

That way, you could get them something they should definitely like, but you could also get them one or two OTHER items that you pick out for them yourself. It could be a nice hat/mittens set, or other kinds of toys completely (this is what I usually did). You're allowed to buy other stuff; that's part of the fun!

ohsnap

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2016, 04:42:32 PM »
Option E:  Do you have a co-worker (or two) who hasn't signed up for the toy drive who would like to join you?  I just signed up for 2 gift boxes for children in foster care, and I plan on spending about $40 for each box.  (they have a suggested list of age & gender-specific items to go in each box).  I'd have been really dismayed if I discovered that I had to spend $150 on each box!  I won't spend that much on anyone this year.

Related to option C if you want to go that route: It looks like Costco has a decent kitchen for $100.
 

bognish

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2016, 05:26:29 PM »
My kids just grew out of that age a few years ago. One set of grandparents gave them the big fancy kitchen and a metal shopping cart. Other grandparents gave them velcro vegatables and fake food. The  fake food got used alot more. I don't think I ever saw the kids playing with the kitchen without an adult leading the game.

MsPeacock

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2016, 12:10:15 AM »
I don't read kitchen play set as meaning one of those enormous plastic kitchens. I take it to mean the pots, pans, dishes, food, etc. IKEA had in the past carried a nice set of little metal pans and such in the kid section. My kids loved the toy food too. Mellisa and Doug was a brand that made the Velcro food hat could be cut apart.

I don't think anyone expects $150 gift on a toy drive. I always aim for about $40 as well.

Goldielocks

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2016, 01:20:46 AM »
Usually the toy drives have a suggested price limit.

I would get a few play things -- like an apron, frypan, food, spatula, etc set.  Maybe it has a shopping basket that it comes with or something...

Actually, I would get this

http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=101737966  and if I still had money to spend, this

http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=21873826

Kids I know LOVE the cash register / food shopping game.   and they learn money skills when ready, too.

Dezrah

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2016, 07:24:13 AM »
Thanks for the advice, everyone.  It's a relief to know I'm not just being a Scrooge.  I'll take my time shopping around online.  I like what you found, goldielocks.  I'll give a follow up within a few weeks.

Thanks again.

Doubleh

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2016, 08:10:09 AM »
Don't spend crazy money here, a few well chosen items are more than adequate. Definitely second the velcro food, our girl and her friends love 'cutting' these apart

I'm a red panda

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2016, 08:27:07 AM »
I would expect that means pots and pans and play food; not the giant kitchen. I have a giant house and don't even think I have room for one of those!

partgypsy

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2016, 09:09:14 AM »
Look at craigslist. This is the kind of thing that kids outgrow and then are sold. That's what we did with ours. Best deal, and often comes with fake food, etc.

I don't think a toddler is going to care if the toy is "cheap". They outgrow them.
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Deluxe-Food-Shop-Pretend-Play-Children-s-Toy-Kitchen-Cooking-Playset-w-Toy-Food-Utensils-Lights-Sounds-Perfect-for-Your-Little-Chef/162679325

Buy some fake food with some baskets, fake cookware, plates, etc.
I like the Melissa and Doug stuff because it is wood and you can "cut" it
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Melissa-and-Doug-Cutting-Food-Box/17623627

Here is a wooden set for $50, not bad
https://www.walmart.com/ip/KidKraft-All-Time-Play-Wooden-Kitchen-with-48-Pieces/54002146

Dezrah

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2016, 09:49:13 AM »
Look at craigslist. This is the kind of thing that kids outgrow and then are sold. That's what we did with ours. Best deal, and often comes with fake food, etc.

I don't think a toddler is going to care if the toy is "cheap". They outgrow them.
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Deluxe-Food-Shop-Pretend-Play-Children-s-Toy-Kitchen-Cooking-Playset-w-Toy-Food-Utensils-Lights-Sounds-Perfect-for-Your-Little-Chef/162679325

Buy some fake food with some baskets, fake cookware, plates, etc.
I like the Melissa and Doug stuff because it is wood and you can "cut" it
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Melissa-and-Doug-Cutting-Food-Box/17623627

Here is a wooden set for $50, not bad
https://www.walmart.com/ip/KidKraft-All-Time-Play-Wooden-Kitchen-with-48-Pieces/54002146

The community group organizing this toy drive requires new toys only.  I get it though; they've probably seen plenty of crazy grandmas trying to donate their grody stuffed animals that it's easier to just have a blanket policy than try to determine the merits of each and every used gift.

I like your suggestions though.  Walwart's website seems to have much better deals than Amazon for stuff like this.  Hopefully quality is still comparable.

partgypsy

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2016, 11:01:03 AM »
Look at craigslist. This is the kind of thing that kids outgrow and then are sold. That's what we did with ours. Best deal, and often comes with fake food, etc.

I don't think a toddler is going to care if the toy is "cheap". They outgrow them.
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Super-Deluxe-Food-Shop-Pretend-Play-Children-s-Toy-Kitchen-Cooking-Playset-w-Toy-Food-Utensils-Lights-Sounds-Perfect-for-Your-Little-Chef/162679325

Buy some fake food with some baskets, fake cookware, plates, etc.
I like the Melissa and Doug stuff because it is wood and you can "cut" it
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Melissa-and-Doug-Cutting-Food-Box/17623627

Here is a wooden set for $50, not bad
https://www.walmart.com/ip/KidKraft-All-Time-Play-Wooden-Kitchen-with-48-Pieces/54002146

The community group organizing this toy drive requires new toys only.  I get it though; they've probably seen plenty of crazy grandmas trying to donate their grody stuffed animals that it's easier to just have a blanket policy than try to determine the merits of each and every used gift.

I like your suggestions though.  Walwart's website seems to have much better deals than Amazon for stuff like this.  Hopefully quality is still comparable.
Walmart is sometimes a necessary evil. I normally don't like lots of plastic stuff, but getting a kitchen set would make the kid's day. If you have a walmart near you, just see what they have in stock so don't have to pay shipping fees. Both of my daughters spent many hours, both with the kitchen set, but also putting out playfood on plates and serving "tea" for their dolls and stuffed animals on a little table in their play area.

This looks cute and educational for a tea set
https://www.amazon.com/LeapFrog-Musical-Rainbow-Tea-Set/dp/B00CCIKII2/ref=sr_1_11?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1479319113&sr=1-11&keywords=tea+set

historienne

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2016, 11:15:58 AM »
The Ikea kitchen is great, and $100, although it might be obnoxious to give something that the recipient has to assemble.

Catbert

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2016, 11:32:25 AM »
Another vote for play pots, pans and food.  People getting Christmas presents through toy drives generally don't have the space to devote to an entire $150 plastic kitchen.  Certainly not in urban areas.  YMMV if you're in a rural area.

Ceridwen

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2016, 11:36:42 AM »
I was also going to suggest buying used, and also point out that giving an unassembled one might not be overly appreciated.

If it's not a massive toy drive, I would contact them to see what they think about a used kitchen set in excellent condition.  Or, I would ask them what they think about you gifting the child an assembled kitchen set.  No need to specify that it's used.

Cranky

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2016, 03:10:03 PM »
IKEA has really, really nice kids' kitchen items, and the "stuff" is more important than the kitchen. Also, one of my kids most played with items was a cheap plastic grocery cart that we bought at the dollar store kinda place. It had a bunch of play food in it.

partgypsy

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Re: Advice for Toy Drive
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2016, 10:42:10 AM »
Yes. Kids that age love grocery carts, and fake cash registers. Both my kids were obsessed with fake phones that made sounds (drove me a little crazy though).