How to save on the hottest toys!


Guest post by Maisie Knowles. Maisie is a working mother of two with three-year's experience writing on parenting and partner issues. She co-founded Kinoli Inc. with her husband in 2005 and currently spends most of her time at home with her two young girls. For more information, visit MaisieKnowles.com.

 As I child, I was so excited to get the Toys 'R Us catalog in the mail around the holidays. I would spend hours pouring through it, picking out exactly what I wanted for Christmas. Since becoming a parent, however, the catalog hasn't given me the same feeling of joy and excitement. Instead, I worry about my four-year-old picking a ridiculously expensive toy she'll only play with once.  This year I resisted the temptation to toss the catalog before she saw it, and instead gave her the opportunity to browse for what she'd like. I challenged myself to either find ways to save on that must-have item, or purchase a close alternative. Here are a few of my finds:

Save on Dolls:
This year's hot toy list includes a Doc McStuffins doll, a Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Star doll and a Disney Princess & Me doll. Skip the brand-name item and go with a doll in Target's Circo or Our Generation line. They're a fraction of the price and come complete with clothing, accessories and furniture. Order online and get free shipping on your order over $50.

Save on Toddler Tech:
LeapFrog's line of handheld game consoles like the Explorer or LeapPad are always a popular present. Add game cartridges to the consoles and you're looking at a gift that's well over $100. Instead of buying the LeapPad2, purchase the less expensive LeapPad1. Collaborate with friends and family to create a LeapFrog game library and swap games throughout the year.

Save on Teen Tech:
For older kids who would love to get an iPad Mini, think about a PanDitgital Android tablet instead. It can often be found on sites like BensOutlet.com for a fraction of the cost. Rather than purchasing new games for Xbox or Wii, give a membership to GameFly.com where you can rent games.

Save on Legos:
If your kids are Lego fanatics, you know these little bricks run at a high price. Before you purchase the newest Lego set, sign up to receive the free Lego catalog which typically contains in-store and online coupons. While you're at it, sign up to become a Lego VIP and receive a $5 reward for every 100 points accrued.

Save on Bikes:
Getting the first grown-up bike is a big day for many kids. It's a timeless present that's asked for year after year. Still, there's no reason they need an expensive model designed to tour the Alps. Try Play-It-Again Sports for savings on gently used bikes, or check Coupon Sherpa's mobile app for in-store coupons to save at stores such as Sports Authority and Sears.

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