Thrifty Thursday: Starting a Toy Closet

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After taking a break from Thrifty Thursday for a few weeks, I’m ready to jump back in.  After my Target Toy Clearance shopping trip last week, I thought a post on starting a Toy Closet was in order.

What is a Toy Closet?
A Toy Closet is a place where you store or stockpile toys and gifts that you were able to purchase at a fantastic price to save as presents.  I don’t just keep toys in the Toy Closet but since I have young kids, that is about 85% of it.  I also keep baby shower and a few adult gifts.

What are the benefits of a Toy Closet?
The #1 benefit of having a Toy Closet is saving money.  You are purchasing items when they are at a rock bottom price to use later.  The other benefits are saving time and saving gas.  I’m sure at some point your child was invited to a birthday party and you had to run out to get a gift at the last minute.  Even if you found a good deal, you still spent extra time (and time is money) and used extra gas to make a special trip to the store.  Having a Toy Closet helps eliminate those special trips.

My rules for a Toy Closet:

1.  The item must be a great deal.  I’m not purchasing an item that is just on sale (unless it is a must-have item for my kids).  I want to stock-up on gifts that are a steal such as all my Target toys for 75% off.

2.  The item must have a purpose. I don’t purchase items just because they are at an unbeatable price.  If it’s not an item I can use in the near future, it’s not a deal for me.  I try to think about “who would I give this item to and when will they receive it.” Even if it’s only $5, if I don’t have someone to give it to and it sits in the closet for 3-years then I’ve wasted money.

Ideas on people to watch sales for:

  • Family Members (children, hubby, mom, brother, niece, nephew, etc)
  • Adult friends
  • Children’s friends (not necessary a name but “a girl in LuLu’s class”*)
  • Teachers
  • Classic Baby and shower gifts

*I purchase items for my kids classmates by gender and age.  I found items that I marked as a birthday gift for a girl/boy in Monkey’s class.  The items must fit the age range and sex of children I would need gifts for.  A product intended for a 12-year old boy is not going to help me because that is over the age range of my children’s friends and my family members.

3.  Group like items to make a gift.  While shopping at Target, I put together a few small toys that would make 1 present.  I thought about what would fill a gift bag and added up the total cost.  For example: I purchased a small race car set and 2 additional race cars for a boy gift.  It made a fantastic gift all together that was still under half of my budget for a birthday party gift (plus it looked expensive).

4.  It must be within my budget.  I have a gift fund that is part of our monthly budget.  As I’ve mentioned before, Christmas and birthday’s are not a surprise.  You need to plan ahead to make the most out of your budget.  That said, I knew how much money I had available to spend.  I stayed within my gift budget even though I spent $140 at Target in one day.

5.  Stay away from fad toys.  Some toys may be must-have items now, but might not be a toy children want to play with the next year.  If you are shopping an after Christmas sale and purchasing items for next Christmas be mindful of the toys you are purchasing.  Another example from my recent Target trip:  Bakugan’s and ZuZu Pets were a great price.  I didn’t buy any of those toys.  While my kids begged for them last year.  They are either in the yard sale box now or laying at the bottom of the toy chest.  You’re wasting your money if you purchase a gift that children are no longer interested in.

Having a Toy Closet can save you time, gas and money.  Just make sure you are buying items for a purpose and not just because it’s a fantastic deal.

Do you have a Toy Closet?



  1. says

    I don’t have any children, but I still have a toy closet. I keep small items for my class and Bible class kids. I get bigger items for our best friends’ children and my nephews. It really helps save $$!

  2. Michele says

    I do this as well. With 5 children, it not only saves money but also valuable time. When we get a birthday party invite, we just shop in our closet and we are ready to go….even if I put it off until the last minute.

  3. says

    We are pregnant with our first child now, but have already begun stock piling toys for a later date. A local thrift store always has Melissa and Doug toys, often in like new (and once a still cellophaned tool kit) for $1-2 each! We also found a wooden play kitchen at a thrift store for $10. Sure, it has to sit for a couple years, but those are things that won’t go out of fashion. And we’ve found the popcorn popper push toy, like new for about 50cents. We’re also on the lookout for the old all wood lincoln logs to purchase, which we’ll store in a small plastic tote for later use as a gift. And my husband has hundreds of matchbox cars that we plan to keep in a tub and allow our children to choose “new” ones and trade in the ones they chose before, cutting down on the amount of toys out, while also allowing them to always have toys that are like new to them!

    • Dana says

      That’s such a great idea to get ready for baby. My kids love Melissa & Doug toys. The classics are always great to stock-up on.



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