Written by Kara Fleck, editor of Simple Kids. Spring is just around the corner, which means so is Yard Sale Season, my favorite time of year! We’re enjoying the extended President’s Day weekend, so I thought you might enjoy this post from June 2010. Best wishes!
This upcoming weekend is a holiday here in the United States. It also marks the time of year when many local neighborhoods shift yard sale season into high gear. For the savvy shopper, this is the most wonderful time of the year, as the bargains are waiting to be found.
Being one of those people who likes to plan ahead to save myself work and hassle later, I take advantage of this time to get a jump on my holiday and birthday shopping.
Indulge me for a moment, though, because keeping your eyes open now for certain items can pay off in the form of full stockings come December, and at bargain prices to boot.
Here are some simple yard sale treasures for kids that are worth searching for:
You don’t necessarily need a full set, as most kids prefer to line them up for domino toppling rather than playing the official game. In fact, a mismatched, colorful collection seems to have more kid appeal.
Often I find dominos sets in tins. If the original tin or box is in good shape and all the pieces are there, I will wrap it and give it as is.
If many pieces are missing or the box is damaged, discard the box and repackage the dominos in a simple homemade draw-string bag. Skip to My Lou has a great draw string bag tutorial that is simple, even for my modest sewing skills.
My two oldest children have recently discovered the joy of collecting and playing with marbles. Don’t know the rules of the game? You can find a printer-friendly copy here: Land of Marbles.
This is another toy that you can gradually accumulate until you have enough to fill a small homemade gift bag. A super fun stocking stuffer!
3. Madeline Tins
I don’t give the tins themselves to the children, but I do use them as molds for making homemade melted crayons. Madeline tins and muffin tins come in a variety of shapes that make for really beautiful crayons and can be picked up inexpensively second-hand.
These pretty crayons have been one of my “go to” birthday gifts for years now and they find their way into the holiday stockings, too.
4. Silk and Cotton Scarves
These are wonderful for playing dress up with and they make fun props for story telling, play, or for decorating the nature table. I like to find solid, light colored scarves and sometimes I dye or over-dye them.
5. Crafting Materials
Abandoned hobbies and craft projects are common yard-sale wares. Partially completed kits or those missing pieces can be put together in a special box to serve as raw materials for young crafter. Pick up some how-to books and patterns while you’re browsing and you can put together a one-of-a-kind gift that encourages creativity.
Keep your eyes out for pin cushions, measuring tape, thimbles, and travel-sized sewing kits, too. These can be combined with fat quarters and fabric scraps to create a sewing kit for a young seamstress or budding costume designer.
6. Board Games
Even those board games that are missing pieces are worth considering. First, they are probably priced very low. And second, it isn’t the games themselves that you want but the fun components. Dice, spinners, chessmen, scrabble tiles all can be re-packaged into a “Build Your Own Game” kit.
Recover game boards with plain kraft paper and you’ve got a blank canvas for whatever your child imagines. Cover this with clear contact paper to help their drawings last through rounds and rounds of play.
You can also add in some fun and unexpected items to enhance your game kit:
- wooden spools
- a calculator
- small colored pencils
- post-it note pads
- large rubber bands
- an hourglass or wind-up kitchen timer
- doll house miniatures
7. Misc. Kitchen Items
Don’t forget to browse the housewares! Over the years, an enamelware tea pot (missing its lid), small wooden cutting board, wooden spoons, and a picnic basket have all found a new home in our play kitchen.
Items don’t have to be child-sized to be appreciated. Often their authenticity appeals to kids, who want to do things just like their parents. Being designed for kitchen use also means they are more likely to stand up to daily play, unlike many of their plastic toy counterparts.
Items I’m currently on the hunt for: whisks, wooden canisters, small tongs, mini muffin tins, egg cups. I’m also on the lookout for square wooden coaster sets. I have an idea to remove the cork, sand them, and repaint them to look like slices of bread.
Use common sense about rough or sharp edges, breakable items, or those with tiny pieces, of course!
Treasures for a Steal
For year-round second-hand shopping there’s always my favorite local thrift store, but most thrift stores don’t compare to the rock-bottom prices that yard sale season brings.
When it comes to finding treasures for my kids, yard sale season will always be my favorite time of year.
What treasures are you hoping to find for your kids this yard sale season?