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✰ Cost Per Play ✰ How Not To Fill Your House with Toys

posted on May 05 2017

Cost Per Play (that's CPP for short!)

Toy and Gift Buying Guide

When you think of the CPP my friends, you get value for money while doing your kids and yourself a favour.

What toys do we need to buy, a toy buying guide for new parents Cost Per Play

For new parents the flood gates to toy heaven or hell open. Hello! Surprise! Your house is about to get filled with a load of plastic. Fad chachka toys with characters on them that don't work very well or last and end up piling high in a landfill.  Hold on, it doesn't have to be like this.

The wiser older generation often reminds us, "don't let your house fill up with toys." We can bring a more conscious and considered approach to what we bring into our homes. But knowing what is necessary and what is excessive isn't always easy.

Truth be told few of us have any idea as to the development stages newborns go through while we raise them into young adults. So our decisions can be knee jerk. 

If we don't read and research what our kids need we often allow the strong hands of marketing mould our children's likes and dislikes. Then we run around searching for the latest trend in toys that our kids tell us they have to have.

Some parents come into the store and tell us that they wait for their child to tell them what they want. And when we ask what informs what their kids want, they say, "the commercials on TV".

Why kids choosing toys based on what they see on TV is not okay.

Hell most mainstream suppliers promise bigger sales based on TV campaigns. The relationship between TV commercials and bestseller is so powerful that the industry can afford to minimise the retailer's margin. Meaning that the retailer stands little chance to make a profit from this item. So they may sell well but they won't pay the shop overheads.

If we let commercials be the reason we bring toys into our house, we are handing over our parenting reigns to big corporations. And trust me your kid's best interests is not on their agenda. 

At Little Citizens we believe in less is more. For the planet, for our toy revolution, for simple and slow living, for appreciation of life and for the better development of children.

Cost Per Play Toy Buying Guide for New Parents

A few great toys will last through the ages and will hopefully be so loved they'll be passed on to the next generation. We research and report on studies because we are dedicated to discovering as much as we can about childhood. It is such a magical time, equal parts confusing, exasperating and magical.

We work hard to match a toy or a style of play to the development stage the child is going through. Just ask us, we have a lot of opinions! Because we know that open play is incredibly important for well adjusted adults. SO much research points in this direction. And what we want to do is build a strong foundation of resilience in kids. Because children are the future. And they are also innocent and deserve the very best. And they are sponges and can be taught to be open and loving and problem solvers. We really believe this.

Cost Per Play a toy buying guide for new parents

I've put together a few practical guidelines. Similar to how I source toys for my shop, with a little criteria, you might just score the best present ever. You could of course, buy them everything they see on TV and sink in a swarm of plastic in a few months. Go ahead. It's your house, not mine. But if you stick to some of these principles, you might have a little more fun and possibly, even a little more money left over.


Here's how the Cost-Per-Play theory works. If you buy a toy for £10 and your child plays with it once and then forgets about it, it breaks, or you never manage to get round to picking up the correct batteries for it, then that toy's cost-per-play is £10.
If you invest in a toy that costs £30 and your child plays with it twice a week for two months. By the end of two months they will have played with it 18 times. £30/18 plays = £1.66 per play. Ultimately, despite its heavier initial cost, you received more value out of that £30 toy than you did for the £10 toy. CPP isn't an excuse to blow your budget, just a reminder that it's worth thinking about the ultimate value.

A couple of questions to ask yourself are; how often will your child play with this toy? Will the toy stand the test of time? Could it become a family heirloom? And, probably the most important question of all is.. how often will you sit with them and play with the toy?

After all, you'll have to help them keep all the parts together, and teach them to tidy up by chipping in. CPP is a ballpark figure that will help you figure out whether a toy is really worth it or just a money pit.


We buy and dump too much stuff in our lives. Isn't it better to really treasure what you have rather than think of it as a disposable item? What makes it a quality toy? Think of modifiable toys that have multiple purposes and mashup toys that are two games in one. I also love toys that are made by artists, they teach children to see the world through a prism of self expression, and not just in elementary colours. And if the toy can be played with in more ways than one, if it’s modifiable or if it teaches lateral thinking, then it's an instant winner. Start talking about this with your children early on, celebrate conservation and teach them to value what they have. How it's worth looking after. Also think of heritage. Where does the toy come from and where is it going? If it's fair trade then you know you are paying a fair wage to a working parent somewhere. There's also something few people talk about: the added bonus that a quality toy has a great resale value, so when your family has outgrown it, you can make some of your money back by selling it on.


Don't differentiate between boy toys and girl toys and teach your kids not to too. Let's face it, we can all learn a little something from the opposite sex. Gender neutral toys have a longer shelf life as well, as they'll appeal to younger siblings, friends and family.


One day they're into blocks and the next day they’re downloading apps, so thinking about their developmental stage means you're more likely to get them something that they connect with:

Baby. They love texture, they're learning about the world through touch. Small plush animals and rattles that they can hold are great.

One-year-old. Pull alongs encourage early walkers to explore further and stacking cubes work on their hand eye coordination.

Two-year-old. Trying to figure out right from wrong at two years, kiddies enter the world of pretend. A toy kitchen is a great gift or a toy that comes in a carrying case as they're just learning about ownership and sharing.

Three-year-old. Dolls are a great way to teach your child through role play and lots of boys love dolls too.

Get ready to enjoy some banter. Try your first board game and you'll see their personality just spill out of them.

Five-year-olds and up.
They're feeling quite mature now and will have started to focus on their own special interests so find out what they love to do. At this age children have plenty of energy so basic sports equipment is always a good bet and they are keen to learn too. Globe puzzles, science and construction kits or marble runs sets that involve problem solving are all great for older ages with longer attention spans.


Make it a gift the whole family will love. Whatever you do remember the best gift of all is time spent together. A board game or a puzzle is something everyone can bond over and remember children learn by playing. These moments of focused play are where they reflect on the world around them and figure out their role within it. If they love their Christmas gift and the whole family gets in on the game, you'll be making memories that last a lifetime. That is success.

 Cost Per Play Toy Buying Guide for Young Families

Sometimes what you think you can't afford, you end up spending across dozens of gimmicky toys. What looks quite dear, is actually a wise investment. Take the Grimm's Rainbow for example, at £64 (approximately USD$82) when you think about it's CPP, kids will play with it over years and years, it's worth every cent! 


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1 comment

  • Catherine: May 17, 2017

    Here Here!!! Excellent piece, my dear :)

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