Marisa OlsonContact Email:
In what is shaping up to be another lean holiday season, many parents are on the look-out for a bargain. Dr. Roger Ideishi, associate professor of occupational therapy at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, offers strategies to help parents save money this holiday season, while stealthily surprising their children with gifts that encourage learning, creativity, and development:
Select toys with a long life: Gifts that have multiple uses, adapt, and grow as the child grows will have a longer life and replace the need to constantly purchase new toys, which saves money long-term.
Shop for bargains: Discount stores, garage sales, and dollar stores are all great resources to find toys at bargain prices. Buying generic toy brands saves a bundle and provides the same creativity and enjoyment as more expensive brands. Garage sales are a hot spot because children outgrow toys very quickly. Concerned about used toys? Mix water with a 10 percent bleach solution and you can clean toys to be germ free.
Re-use resources at home: Many everyday household items can easily be transformed into gifts for children. Possibilities include painting and cutting a refrigerator box to make a house; using inexpensive measuring cups as stackable toys; making puppets from socks or old stuffed animals by removing the bottom and insides; filling a dress-up box with old clothes and discounted Halloween costumes; and handing-over old non-digital cameras and cell phones.
Give the gift of yourself: Young children love spending time with their parents and other children. Whether it’s a trip to the zoo, letting your child plan a day of activities, playing with them in the park, or an IOU to take them and a friend to a movie, giving your child a part of yourself is economical, builds positive memories, and strengthens the parent-child relationship.
“Playing comes from the inside, not from shiny new toys, and gifts are all about helping children to pull that creativity and imagination out,” explained Dr. Ideishi. “Parents may want to purchase new toys from the toy store, but there are also plenty of opportunities to save money while giving gifts that promote learning, creativity, and development.”