Holiday expenses are starting to mount up....gifts, food, outfits, etc. But some of the most fun things that a kid can play with are probably in abundance around your house this season, and come free with all those boxes showing up at your door.
I found this cute post about free toys on Wise Bread. I'm not sure I would wrap any of these up under the tree, but they make great bonuses for your kids while you're unpacking and wrapping.
My favorite suggestion (and most kids' too, probably): A big giant cardboard box. My kids lose their minds with happiness when a box is available, and it's really fun to see the creative uses they come up with for it: bed for a stuffed animal, secret playhouse, rocket ship.... You can even hand them markers and kid-safe scissors and let them design to their heart's content. I've seen "color your own playhouse" sets at fancy toy stores for like $40 that are basically cardboard boxes with windows and doors...why not let them go to town on the one that showed up on your porch for free?
Second favorite: a big roll of bubble wrap. Okay, this might be just for me. I love the de-stressing effect of snapping bubble after bubble (much to my husband's dislike); back before my home office became a child's bedroom, I used to keep a stash of it for emergencies. Now, my kids like stomping on it. Really, any kind of packing material is big fun.
The one I disagree with is his suggestion to hand the kids the wrapping paper tube once the paper is gone. Yeah, in my house that would become a deadly weapon (deadly to my china cabinet and candle holders, anyway) in about 1.2 seconds and would summon Yelly Mommy for sure. The rest of it, though? Great ideas.
What free "toy" is your kids' favorite?