Last summer we had a clear out of toys from the playroom. What revolted me was how much plastic we had accumulated: Of this plastic mountain so much was broken / parts missing etc that is simply could not be used again and was destined for landfill. It got me thinking, my children have plenty of toys, and actually neither of them *need* anymore this Christmas, they simply *want* them. Of course, I am not some sort of living saint, and this isn’t a sermon that thou shalt not buy toys (of the plastic variety) for your kids this Christmas – because I know full well there will be some brand new toys under our tree. But, this Christmas I have vowed to see if I can scour the shops of my high street and see what I can actually ‘reclaim’ and that it can be perfectly acceptable to give to my children as gifts.

My first stop was Oxfam Books. The array of kids books there was simply staggering, fiction, non fiction, paper back, hard back all there. There were many series of books, and I spotted many kiddie favourite authors. My favourite pick was this hard back of Lemony Snicket – it looks brand new. I also picked up Nightmare Before Christmas, Moshi Monsters and a ballet book. I may go back for more – I was that impressed with the selection.

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Next Stop CEX entertainment. This is an interesting concept of a shop: You can exchange your unwanted electronics, DVDs, games etc for credit. So a clear out of WII games no longer played with gave me a bit of credit. I duly snapped up a FIFA game and Just Dance. My son loves Skylanders, and they had a couple of figures he hadn’t got – so great for the stocking. What is best is when my kids are bored of these – I can take them back and swap again!

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Lastly, I scoured my local selling pages. It is quite remarkable what you can find on there – good quality items just looking for a new home. I could have bought a GLTC Dolls house, a balance bike or play mobil. In the end I got a magnetic draughts / chess / dart board that I had seen my son eyeing up in a shop. And while I was at it, I gave away a radiator cover which was cluttering our house but useful to someone else.

I still have the school fairs to go to – these are a goldmine for little figures as stocking fillers. My son has an ever growing collection, and I honestly don’t think we bought many brand new.

So go out and reclaim this Christmas! Not only will it save a few pennies, it’s good for the planet too.