5 Cheap Alternatives To Expensive Toys Your Kids Keep Begging For

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4. Monster Repellent Spray $9.99 vs. Plastic Spray Bottle $3.99

The idea of a special spray to make scared kids feel braver is a great one, just not one I’m willing to shell out the big bucks for. Water in a plain bottle works just as well if you jazz it up with some stickers and a Sharpie. Take the extra six bucks to the nearest Starbucks for a PSL.

5. Sand Table $49.97 vs. Storage Tote With Lid $14.70

Does it hold sand? Check. Is there a lid to keep the cat out? Check. But the storage tote will save you about $35.00 plus you don’t have to worry about your kid climbing up into it and falling out, which means you have more attention to devote to looking at Facebook on your phone. Win/win.

(image of toybox via, all other images via

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  1. rockmonster

    October 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    At least it isn’t cutesy toilet paper

  2. Kitsune

    October 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Love it. My son seems to always prefer the toys that aren’t toys anyway so this is a win win.

  3. GetKraken

    October 16, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    $4 for a plastic spray bottle? Have you heard of dollar tree? You could replace almost all your replacements for $1!

  4. Valerie

    October 16, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    I can do you one cheaper- I got C a set of measuring cups from the Target dollar bin when she was a baby. Hey-ooooo!

    Great post, btw. So much gimicky stuff out there to dupe tired, desperate parents!

  5. Cindy Ailey

    October 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Almost $20 for nesting cups? WTF? I bought a set at a thrift shop for 50 cents, but I highly doubt they were $20 brand new.

    • Greta Young

      October 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Right?! Ummm, if you’re trying to save money, first step = buy used. Or, even better, realize that your kid doesn’t need 95% of the crap on the market in the first place and rise above the mindless consumerism. (Bonus: less mess & clutter!) Last time I checked, the park had sand and the fridge was magnetic.

    • koolchicken

      October 16, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Not all fridges 🙁 I have stainless steel and they’re not magnetic except on the sides. And with the way kitchens are designed now (so it can slide into the cabinets) they’re never exposed. You can buy a tiny cookie sheet from the dollar store that would work just fine though. There’s no way I’m spending $20 on a drip pan.

  6. leahdawn

    October 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    The best toys are the simplest ones! The only Christmas gift I really remember at all from my childhood was when I was six and my mom bought me stencils and markers. FRICKING PLASTIC STENCILS. They were like $5 for a dozen different ones and I used the hell out of those things for years, and still think they were the best gift in the history of mankind.

  7. Allyson_et_al

    October 16, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    For years, my kids’ favorite toy was a free dummy cell phone someone at the Verizon store gave them while we were shopping. They played with that from toddlerhood through about 3rd grade. Can’t beat free. Also, our small collection of remotes to things we no longer owned. Just pull out the batteries, and it’s a toy.

  8. Jessie Lamontagne

    October 16, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I got a giant empty box at my office, my husband played a couple hours and turned it into a house. Best toy ever.

    • Allyson_et_al

      October 16, 2014 at 6:47 pm

      Was it for him or your kid?

    • Jessie Lamontagne

      October 16, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      It was for my son officially, but I knew husband would have a blast. We are discussing wallpaper and paint options.

    • Allyson_et_al

      October 16, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      My favorite toy growing up was the refrigerator box we had for a few weeks one year. It was a spaceship, a house, a bus, an airplane. I would have lived in if I could.

  9. koolchicken

    October 16, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Say what you will about that ball pit, but my kid has used it every single day since we got it. It’s also smaller than a kiddie pool so it doesn’t take up as much space, and the walls/roof make it super versatile. I sometimes throw a blanket over the top then it’s a “tent”. I’ve set up the slide so my son can slide into it or slide his balls and cars down the slide and not have them rolling all over the house (it’s worth it for that alone). And the walls also make it so I can cram other crap in there if I need to, like stuffed animals. Best $35 ever spent I swear.

  10. Marge

    October 19, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    The BEST gift I ever got was from my aunt who loved to sew. She gave me a bunch of handmade barbie dresses from different eras… Medieval, ancient greek, pioneer times, regency ect… and a decorated shoebox with ‘ Time Machine’ written on it. voilla! Time Travel Barbie… Boy did Barbie ever have adventures after that!

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