Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cheap kitchen sets

Has anyone else been following Kerflop's search for the perfect play kitchen? (She found one.)

With Christmas around the corner, I'd love your thoughts about the best way to "play kitchen" on the cheap. And yes, I realize the irony of typing that even as I post a picture of a $150 Pottery Barn stove. I couldn't pass up the Pottery Barn for $15, if only for eventual resale.

Until this fall, our play kitchen consisted of this rectangular tin filled with vintage Jello molds, tart shells, and 10-cent yard sale spoons and stirrers. We take the whole tin outdoors and cook leaves, grass, and dirt--or we set everything up on the coffee table with pretend food. A kitchen tin takes up a lot less room than a miniature kitchen.

Shhh! Don't tell Elise, but I'm teaching Andrew to sew by making vegetables out of old felted sweaters. There'll be a market basket under the Christmas tree, not as pretty but filled with much more love than the catalog version.

30 comments:

carrie said...

Meredith,

I found a huge box of kitchen toys at a yard sale for $2! There were almost 100 items, and I divided them up into 3 sets to give us gifts to my son and my nieces.

We used to enjoy playing "grocery store: with mini packages (small cereal boxes, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Personally love ours which my daughter is now five when we invested the money into it when she was two years old. It is unfinished so one can varnish with clear if not concerned about chemicals. Or use natural beeswas finish which the kids can put on themselves from time to time.
I bought it from elves and angels company. :)
Renee Mama to four

Anonymous said...

Just a warning about using real kitchen items for play:

I was too young to remember all the details, but I have a scar on my knee from an ice cube tray. I was probably about 3 when I learned about tall, icy mountains (TV? In the 1950's? A book? don't know.)

Anyway, I decided to play 'tall, icy mountain' on our couch. And since I didn't have ice ... or knew I wasn't supposed to take ice out of the freezer, I got an empty ice cube tray to represent ice on the mountain. When I climbed up the couch, I slipped and fell onto the ice cube tray, cutting my knee badly enough to need stitches.

You never know how little kids are going to use real kitchen utensils. So, watch out for metal items with edges.

Jora

Jane said...

Did you find that little kitchen at a yard sale for $15? What a score!!!

I LOVE the idea of the felted fruit and veggies! I posted last Christmas about the handmade gifts my mom and grandparents made me. 30+ years, those are the toys I saved from my childhood.

Bethany said...

So maybe this isn't the most beautiful looking kitchen set, but it's pretty cool that you could do it yourself using salvaged materials!

http://fortytworoads.blogspot.com/2007/10/toy-kitchen-is-finished.html

HopewellMomSchool said...

I have a pattern I bought 26 years ago to make plastic canvas kitchenware for my niece. She's pregnant now so maybe I'll get it done--finally. Anyway, it has all sorts of things including an ELECTRIC SKILLET! Too cute since you can pick the yarn colors.

Did you really by the PB Kitchen for $15??????? Amazing!

2boysmama said...

A friend once did this: take an old nightstand or endtable. Cut a hole in the top and put in a metal kitchen bowl for the sink. Then for the faucet you could put an old bathroom set or make one from blocks of wood.

It looked really cute!

Valerie said...

I saw a stuffed pumpkin (pillow?) at Hobby Lobby last night, and was trying to think of materials I could use to make something like it. Thanks for the tip about sweaters. I'm headed to Salvation Army (1/2 off day) tomorrow, and will look for a nice orange one!

Milehimama said...

You might like this:
http://jas.familyfun.go.com/arts-and-crafts?page=CraftDisplay&craftid=11093

I have a little old telephone stand (it's maybe 12"x18", and about 30" high) that I got at a yard sale for $2. I drew stove burners with sharpie markers, and have two dish pans on the shelf below. One for dishes, one for food (we have some wooden Melissa and Doug food, some plastic food from Discovery Toys, and some recycled "real" boxes and bags).

We found some old camping gear that makes great pots and pans (there's an all-in-one set that is designed to cook over a sterno)

Anonymous said...

OK Where can I find the pattern you are using. I never thought about that. After a year or more of reading your blog I finaly led my DH to a thirft store and Garage sales. I have all my DD Christmas for under 20 Thank You

Tubo Family said...

Meredith, great find! If it was me I'd keep it as the play value is so long-lasting. Even in a decade the resale value will still be at least twice what you paid. I got our Korners for Kids wood kitchen at a yard sale for $5. Alison

Jenny's Vegcafe said...

I have to admit that our kitchen came off a curb during 'spring cleaning' trash week. It was in really good shape so we took it home and scrubbed it up. It's probably 10-15 years old and even though I slobber over the Rose Cottage play sets I feel ok with what we have. And it cost was a little elbow grease.
I see them all of the time at yard sales for a few dollars. Maybe you could even tell your local thrift stores to give you a call if a kitchen comes in. Sometimes they will do that.

Anonymous said...

I once saw on a 'design show' I think it was Design on a Dime or Decorating Cents where the designer took a small child's stove/sink and used it as the bed side table in the child's room. What an idea...it would 'kill two birds with one stone' as my sweet grandma said.
You got a darn good buy for the PB stove. If it were mine I would keep it for my child's use and make a "fridge" to go with it from a kitchen cupboard.
I was super lucky. My father loved doing wood work projects. He made my kitchen set almost 20 years ago when I opened this day care. I still use it and it is going strong and litterally 100's of kids have played with it. My set is painted and I have from time to time re-painted it. But it still works like new.
I got some new kitchen 'tools' for it last year when the Ikea opened in our area. Ikea has some nice kitchen toys for children. I also got 'real' silver ware from Ikea in a small size for the children.
I watch garage sales for Tupperware bowls, cups, pitchers etc. The kids play with them for hours...artificial fruit and veggies make good toys too.

Carolyne said...

"Mud Pies and Other Recipes" ~ a cookbook for dolls by Marjorie Winslow
*Very* stimulating cooking for the imaginary world of your child......fun for Mommies too!

Sebastian said...

Please post some patterns or directions for the veggies. That sounds like a lovely idea. (Although finding sweaters to felt in Hawaii might be a challenge. Maybe ours will have to be aloha patterned.)

Amy said...

I love the idea of making your own veggies- that is so smart.

I was planning to buy the less expensive version of the kitchen set that looks like the Pottery Barn one, but from Target. I happened upon a cheap five dollar plastic kitchen though at Goodwill and decided to splurge on the fake food instead. We bought all the pretty wooden food, cute kitchen utensils, and a little cash register instead. They can play with these when the kitchen is long gone and I am hoping that they will last until we have grandchildren :)

Lu said...

The veggie idea is FANTASTIC! I would have never thought about it! I love the kitchen.. too cute!

Ewokgirl said...

A while back there was an amazing homemade play kitchen that someone posted on craftster.org. I'm trying to find it. During my search, I came across this one made of cardboard: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=204089.0

I'm so impressed with what some people manage to do with things most people would throw away!

It's a Mom Thing said...

You know my mom teaches in the same distrcit as your husband. The elementary schools have been clearing out most of their "center toys" due to the focus shifting from play to "real learning." She brought home a separate stove, sink, and fridge for free. They are wooden and just needed a little cleaning. You might call around to a few elementary schools near you.

My Boaz's Ruth said...

Odd...
I remember we had a play kitchen.

And I remember playing with the little carts that came with (I think?) the kitchen (even occasionally filling them up with fake plastic food -- though more often with our dollies) -- but I never remember playing with the kitchen itself!

We played with dolls of all sizes -- dollhouse, Barbie/Skipper, and Mandy/Garbage Patch Girl. And with matchbox cars. And with the Little People sets (we had a castle and a car ramp set that I can recall in particular. Oh and a plane with airport.). And with the Sesame Street set (maybe a weeble wobble?) and a weeble wobble circus set. We gave magic shows with the magic box I got one year. But I don't remember doing anything with the kitchen other than it sitting in my sister's room all the time.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to figure out how to make that bag of fruit & can't wait to see yours! I want to get rid of the plastic fruit that inevitably gets chewed on. We have a big plastic kitchen (thrifted) that is enjoyed, but I would prefer wooden. I've toyed with the idea of making a simple stovetop out of a board and placing it on top of a bookshelf where food/dishes can be stored. Honestly though, my 3 year old would much prefer to use the REAL kitchen with me. You might have something there with the tin of kitchen gadgets. Let us know what the kids prefer.

Anonymous said...

I still have my kitchen set from when I was a girl...they were tin type kidsized...with a cardboard backing....I only have boys, but they have fun playing with all of it.

Mary said...

When DS17 was 2 I bought the fisher price plastic kitchen and he used it and his younger sister used it. Twas a sad day when it was passed on.... I bought an inexpensive plastic tea set from Target for the dishes. They used small margarine tubs, plastic ramekins, tupperware snack cups and midgets. I think we had a very small saucepan that came from a kitchen store...(for melting butter?) And old baby food spoons, measuring spoons...any of my "old" kitchen things. They had a cheap toy grocery cart....and an old desktop electric office calculator served as a cash register. They played lots and lots of grocery store. The one piece fisher price kitchen was also used with the little tykes fred flinstone car to be a drive through bank, drycleaner, mcdonalds etc.

Far and above what they still talk about the most. The bag of plastic clothes pins that I bought. I put them in a basket and handed them to the children with a stack of sheets and blankets and gave them the blessing to "make a tent" in the living room using the sofa, coffee table, dining chairs. I would let them build it on a friday afternoon and sleep in it that night and take it down on Saturday. I provided hours and hours of cheap fun. I still have the clothes pins!

thehomespunheart said...

I have gotten all of our kitchen toys at thrift stores or as gifts. The thrift stores near my Mom bundle little things in big clear bags and then sell the whole batch for $2-$3, so a bag for $3 is enough to supply the kitchen! Your PB find is darling and I love the items you've mentioned you already have!

Meredith said...

Oh, y'all don't want our made-up fruit pattern! I'm letting Andrew trace and cut and sew as we go.

There are patterns available online for cotton crochet vegetables, which are far cuter.

As soon as we complete the first fruit, I'll share a photo and general tips.

kerflop said...

MAN. That is one heck of a garage sale score! WHY does that never happen to me? (weeps)!

Anonymous said...

Hi Meredith, check out these http://www.steffywood.com/toddlerkitchens.html It looks like they took basic bookcases and embellished them! This gives me ideas.

Half-Redneck said...

Have you seen this?

http://shelleyssnippets.blogspot.com/2007/11/baby-toolkit-cardboard-kitchen-update.html

Darcy said...

I haven't had time to read through all the comments on this post but wanted to share a link to Turkey Feather's microwave cart turned play kitchenette. It is really adorable and so clever! I've been keeping my eye out for one for my kid's playhouse.

I cannot believe the deals you find! $15...that is an unbelievable deal! :)

Nil Zed said...

years ago, the first time around with mommying, I bought the girls the little tykes kitchen. There was only one then, it was reasonably new on th market, and I worked at the store so got a discount. They liked it well enough and played with it for quite a few years. Then we moved and it had to live outside instead of in their room. They never, ever played with it outside. Instead, they flipped over the doll cradle they'd inherited from my childhood, and proceeded to use it like a huge restaurant griddle, and the storage boxes for all the foods and dishes became sink and counter. Luckily, we had film in the camera that morning!