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At our home we seem to have the perpetual problem of unplayed with toys or unread books. But as soon as we go to a friend's home, all their toys are the newest and greatest things ever. Anyone else have this "problem"? Well, I decided to have a toy swap with some of my friends. Step2 generously donated a couple Little Helper Shopping Carts for the kids to collect their new toys in, everyone brought toys, books and games that were in good shape, with no pieces missing and for about 2 hours our kids swapped their toys away. Curious how we did it? Here are my tips on how to have a successful toy swap and what to do with all those leftover toys!

Send out your invites:
First decide how many people you want to invite. Do you want to just invite your friends or open it up to all the kids in your neighborhood. Just remember, the bigger it is, the more varitey of books and toys there will be to swap- plus the more you have to share/donate at the end.

Pick your place:
Small swaps can be easily done in a home. Or if you have a local church or community room to use they are great way to guarantee enough space for everyone and everything. I hosted our toy swap in our basement and cleared out any items we wanted to keep so that there was no confusion about what toys they kids were allowed to take and which ones were off limits.

Set some rules:
You can use a ticket system and give each child a ticket per toy. Although most parents are happy to get rid of old toys and not take as many back home. We didn't hand out tickets and with a dozen kids running around swapping toys we had no problems. Step2 sponsored our event with Little Helper Shopping Carts so the kids went around the room and put their favorite items their cart. The Little Helper shopping carts were pefect for the kids, they were able to grab stuff and keep looking without getting loaded down with whatever treasures they may have already found.

Snacks:
You don't have to supply snacks. But what kids doesn't like snacks? Food AND toys.. my boys are in heaven. Plus it apparently takes a lot of energy to look around a room and get new toys, because those kids made quick work of the snacks. We just had "Toy Swap" bottles of water, Twizzlers, cookies, gumballs and M&M's for everyone.

Donate:
With all the leftover toys, you can donate them to a local charity. We donated our toys to Hannah's Treasure Chest in Centerville. We were able to donate 2 boxes and 2 large trash bags of toys, books and games when our event was over. There are several great local charities in the Dayton area; Goodwill, Salvation Army, AmVets and several others, but I felt drawn to donate the items from our swap to Hannah's Treasure Chest. First, the items at the swap were all in good shape, no pieces missing and nothing broken. So I didn't feel bad donating our swap items to them. Hannah's Treasure Chest is a non-profit organization that exists to enrich the lives of children in need by providing clothing, books, infant/toddler equipment and toys. Their main warehouse is located at 124 Westpark Road in Centerville. They use their donated items to help children in poverty by supplying them with things that they need. Their list of clients include social service workers, family advocates, school counselors and church pastors. Whenever my boys outgrow an item I sometimes hate to just "get rid of it," I would rather give it to someone that I know can use it. The problem is that there isn't always a friend or family member in need of what we have when we are looking to give our stuff away. Hannah's Treasure Chest is the perfect way to donate stuff that you no longer need or use, but you want to go to someone that can really use it.

Our toy swap was so much fun. The kids had a great time getting new toys and all the parents had a good time just being able to hang out. Toy swaps are a great way to clean out your closets and empty out some toy baskets plus it is a great way to teach your children about sharing with others. We all have things that we no longer use and this is a great way to teach our children about helping others out by donating items they no longer play with to someone that will appreciate it more. So next time you feel like the books and toys are taking over your home maybe grab a few friends and have a toy swap.

Disclosure: Step2 provided me with the Little Helper Shopping Carts. But this post and opinions are my own and not paid for or influenced by the item provided.


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Categories: Free, Toy,

Coupons.comCoupons.com has some rarely found Little Tikes coupons. I found them under "Toys and Games." This is a great coupon if you are starting to think about fun spring outdoor toys, or fun little gifts for Easter baskets.

Save $5 on ANY Little Tikes purchase of $30 or more

Save $10 on ANY Little Tikes purchase of $100 or more

Did you find any great deals on Little Tikes toys, be sure to leave us a comment.


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Categories: Coupon, Kids, Toy,

NinjagoTHIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED: CONGRATS BECKY D
YOU CAN VIEW OUR LIST OF GIVEAWAY WINNERS HERE.

About a month ago we went to Toys R Us and learned that they have new exciting LEGO sets called Ninjago coming out to Toys R Us on January 1, 2011. I've got to admit I was pretty impressed with these new LEGO sets. They are a LEGO game and a set all in one. They seemed a lot like spinning game behind Beyblade spinners, but the fun and creativity of LEGO. The legend tells of how the First Spinjitzu Master created the world of Ninjago using the mystical powers of Fire, Earth, Ice and Lightning. There are now four young ninjas that must be trained in the ways of Spinjitzu to help save the world from Lord Garmadon and his evil Skeleton Warriors.

Ok, so onto the giveaway!! We are giving away a 11 piece set that builds a Ninjago sword display, a Ninjago sticker and black Ninjago headwrap. Plus we have an exclusive coupon to receive a limited edition Ninjago Battle Card with any Ninjago purchase between 1/2/11- 1/29/11. (Toys R Us will also be running this offer If you spend $30 or more in LEGO Ninjago during the month of January at Toys R Us, you can also receive the limited edition Ninjago Battle card and a card album.)

So how do you enter? You can get up to 3 entries. And you KNOW you want to win this because who DOESN'T want FREE LEGOs?!

- Leave a comment about this giveaway

- Leave a comment somewhere else on the blog, then come back and leave a comment here telling us you did

- Follow us on Facebook then leave a comment telling us

This giveaway ends Sunday, January 2 at 9pm EST. We will use Random.org to choose our winner. This giveaway is for local readers.


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Categories: Giveaway, Review, Stores, Toy,

So we are product testing a new pacifier for ebeanstalk.com, and also got a really cool toy in the mail from them also! It's by Sassy and is called The Carwash- it's target age is for 9mths up. Well, as soon as we got this little B had to get a bath with his new toy! Now since B is only 7 months he's still in a baby tub, so he couldn't play with the whole toy, but he got to play with the cars in his bath. Well, when 4 1/2 year old big brother C saw what 7 month old B got in the mail he was excited to try it out too! He wasn't even taking a bath, but played with it for most of the afternoon.

Now not only is it SUPER cute, but it lets your child use lots of different skills when playing with it. They can scoop water in one car, pour from another, one car squirts water and they can even wash the cars off with the carwash sprayer. There is a smooth road, a bumpy road, fun spinners and soft sponges to wipe the cars off. I know that both of my kids are going to love this toy for a long time. I especially love the fact that it's a floating carwash island for in the tub! Thanks eBeanstalk!

ebeanstalk is expert-selected baby and kid toys. You can even shop by specific age range to guarantee that your child is getting the perfect toy based on their age. I personally have never seen a website that does such a good job to guarantee that your child is getting something that is geared for their age perfectly. Each toy also comes with a custom instruction card with great playing ideas.

Do you have things that you love for your kids that are fun and secretly they are learning at the same time? Let us know in our comments!


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Categories: Kids, Review, Toy,