Saturday, November 03, 2007

Disposable toys, cheap entertainment

I prefer to buy toys with an eye to the future, but when you can pick them up for quarters apiece, sometime a new toy can be cheap entertainment.

Today I bought a toy I would never, ever, ever under normal circumstances bring into my home: the RoseArt Magic Spin Art.

I ordered my five-year-old to set everything up outdoors. Some of the neighbor's visiting grandchildren migrated into the yard. Suddenly, it was a party!

They used up all the paint and paper in one messy hour of play. I snuck the C batteries back into my husband's flashlight and slide the whole shebang into a garbage bag.

The RoseArt Paint Slinger--a guilt-free mom break, $1.

How do you feel about spending money on "temporary" toys and entertainment? Do you think of it in terms of buying an experience (like a trip to the movie theatre)? Do you parlay short-term purchases into resale? Or do you donate them back to Goodwill and hope some other family can use it, too?


Anonymous said...

Spending money on something like this, as long as I got it as cheaply as you did, wouldn't even make me bat an eye. I love my kids....but we homeschool and are pretty much together 24/7, so I feel like a well deserved "mom break" is certainly in order from time to time. These are the kinds of little escapes that keep a mom sane! Do you have another one, Meredith? I'll gladly spend a dollar and send them outside tomorrow afternoon so that I can have an uninterrupted hour to read the Sunday paper!

Susan :-)

Joanna said...

We'll actually do this for ourselves... we love playing board games and trying new ones, so, if we're at Goodwill and see an intriguing board game for $2, we'll pick it up & give it a whirl. If we like it, great, we've got a new game for our collection. If not, the $2 was spent on a night of entertainment, which is way less than what we'd spend going out to eat or to a movie.

Lori ~ The Simple Life at Home said...

Yes, I do see things like this as buying the experience. I mean, for one trip to McDonald's it's $7 for the three of us - stuff like what you did here is much, much more valuable! They'll remember the fun they had a lot longer than they will remember the fast food.

Cyndi Lewis said...

I buy for the experience. I would much rather buy something creative over a barbie doll or some other toy that will stop being played with and end up in the yard sale. This year's frugal Christmas will consist of art supplies and projects: polymar clay, stamp pads ( bought at half off), science kits, etc. My kids are older than yours so the mess and needed supervision is a lot less. I still contend that glitter is a thing of the devil though.

Anonymous said...

Like the others, I buy them for the experience.

For example, our first Playmobil was an experiment with a small kit found at a rummage sale. Of course, that 50-cent experiment turned out to be a keeper.

Unless cleanup is a big deal, I donate the 'experience' toys to our local thrift store after we're done enjoying it.


Liz said...

I too buy for experience, because how long is a toy really play worthy. They get bored with it and go on, so I think these one time use deals are great, if purchased for the right amount of money.

mama k said...

I would totally buy that for a dollar... and then I'd pass it on to Goodwill. I'd feel too guilty tossing it in the trash. :)

I try to buy toys that I know I can pass down to future children, but sometimes buying for the experience is fun too.

Karla Porter Archer said...

i have no problems doing this if it is inexpensive. We've done this sort of thing often and usually get well beyond our money's worth.


Anonymous said...

Gosh yes, I do this often. I am always on the "look out" for this kind of cheap thrill. If it was lots of fun for the children I will send it home with mom and dad (My son and daughter in law) for the kids to enjoy there. Then I am off to find the next cheap thrill for the grand children. This keeps coming to grandma's and grandpa's house fresh and fun for them.
Thanks for sharing the experience with us, your blogging friends. Roxie

Shannon said...

This is an excellent idea. I tend to keep toys around for way too long. It's time to start weeding some out! Again! It's an ongoing project, that's for sure.

Marsha said...

Oh, please, please, please don't think me a sanctimonious ninny, but I would've passed on the toy. I don't care to have lots of "complete unto themselves" toys around that can only do one thing and one thing only (and/or needs constant feeding with batteries, paper, toner or whatever) - my kids and I all prefer to have blocks, legos, dress-up clothes, crayons and so on, all things that can be made into almost anything that can be imagined. So far, I haven't found anything "cool" enough for cheap enough to tempt me from this policy and have stuck to my guns. As long as I'm confessing, though, I might as well point out that finding one of those crayon melter thingies for a dollar would be a temptation.

Anonymous said...

I do this sometimes, but lately I've felt a little guilty about throwing things away (we've filled enough landfills with diapers for 7!) We're such a consumer society, and throw so much away! But I do enjoy buying things cheap, knowing they won't be a keeper. . . they usually go to Salvation Army on the next trip!

Unknown said...

I definately play like you. I recently bought two HUGE bags of funny little toys (mainly stuffed ones) from Goodwill for $1. It's my "mummy-break" stash, and so one or two new toys appear if either Boo or Mummy is tired and grumpy. It means we have a happier time, and costs me next to nothing. Of course, these will all end up back at Goodwill. And to add a very frugal coda, I'm considering buying one of these bags and wrapping each toy up separately to fill Boo's stocking this year. He'll think it's great -- and I'll only spend $1!

3boysmama said...

Ooh, reading that your threw it away really makes me cringe. I don't think I would throw something away that could be useable to someone else. I like freecycle for this reason. Pass on the mom break to someone else.

But to answer your other question, I have done that with yard sale toys--$1 or 2 is good entertainment value to give the kids something that will divert their attention for the afternoon.

Meredith said...

Glad to hear some dissenting opinions here!

I threw the toy away because we had used up all the paper inserts AND the paint AND the whole toy was covered with paint splatters from top to bottom.

Can you tell I'm not a fan of RoseArt products?

I never give a boxed toy to a thrift store unless it has all or nearly all of the pieces left. I have been on the receiving end of a taped-up box one too many times to do that to another mom and kid!

Otherwise, I'm happy to recycle stuff again.

Like Marsha, I try to be careful about not giving in to disposable toys too much. Even if it only cost me $1 used, that's probably a days wages for the foreign woman employed by the toy company in China. That's what I tell myself, anyway.

Do you think giving in to disposable type toys is a creativity sapper?

3boysmama said...

Freecycle is a good alternative to a thrift shop in this case. Someone might be willing ot buy the paper and paint to use it again.

Just had to give a plug for it!


Anonymous said...

Like you, I buy things that are dead cheap and then let the kids have at it for as long as it lasts. I feel that the money spent on it is worth it as an "experience" and then I have no qualms about secretly filling a bin bag with the forgotten toys later and re-donating them to a thrift store or give away on freecycle. I only throw them away when they are broken as I wouldn't want it on my conscience that someones else's child was injured on the toy I donated !! I think that messy toys deserve the bin bag too if you've exhausted all the supplies that came with. Cheers from an american in England ! jennifer

martha said...

I think you're a great mom. I don't think ANYone at Goodwill would want a paper-less and paint-less splattered toy.

As a retired teacher and early childhood specialist, AND as a second generation ultra-thrifter, I support you all the way.

Qtpies7 said...

$1?? Go for it! I'm not sure I would throw it away, though.
It wouldn't last at my house, I have 7 kids, they wear things out fast.

Anonymous said...

I used to by disposable toys for my boys until I saw how disappointed they were when the toy was "used up." I do not waste our money in this way but teach them that through saving a little more, they can have a toy that lasts longer.

Jennifer @ Fruit of My Hands said...

We have fun, occasionally with a disposable toy. Today, it was using my "good" paintbrushes to paint with water on the cement outside. 2 paintbrushes now need to be replaced, but they were getting very old anyway, and painting on the sidewalk season is almost over this year, so I figure they should enjoy the sunshine while they can. It's worth the cost of replacing paintbrushes a few weeks earlier than I would have.