These days, you can get free toys for babies, toddlers, and even bigger kids. It’s just a matter of where and when to find them.
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As you may have noticed with my baby-related posts, like free diapers, you can actually stretch your budget if you develop a system of obtaining free stuff.
Toys are the hardest to find since “toys” typically fall outside the basic necessities like food or clothing.
But you can get free toys.
Here Are 4 Ways to Get Free Toys
1. Become a Toy Tester or Toy Reviewer
The most effective way of product development research involves reaching out to your target market. Popular brands like Nike, Reebok, Revlon, MAC, and yes, toy companies do these kinds of product testing all the time.
Toy companies also know the importance of product research and use kids as toy testers (and their parents as toy reviewers), so if you’re interested in getting free toys, here’s what you should do:
- Follow your favorite toy brands on social media. Follow just a handful, or go crazy and follow them all. It’s totally up to you.
- Find official groups and join them. Most of these are free and anyone can register to become a member.
- Join newsletters of your favorite toy brands. Sometimes, toy companies may send announcements of toy testing programs to their newsletter subscribers. Indicate that you want to join toy testing if the opportunity arises.
If you can, be an active follower by commenting on posts, sending inquiries, and leaving feedback on toys your kids already own.
When you are sent an invitation to test a product, the company will ship it over directly to your home, wait for you to review it (you could create a video, complete a survey form, or leave a testimonial). In exchange for this review, the company will let your kid keep the new toys.
For those who have super-active social media pages (Instagram, YouTube, and so on) or who maintain a parenting blog, toy blog, or similar sites, it’s likely that toy brands would just send free toys over for you to review and post about.
Here are some other sites to sign up for the chance to be toy reviewers and get free toys in return:
- Far Out Toys
- Funovation Panel
- Hasbro FunLab
- Mattel Imagination Center
- Fisher Price Cast & Play Crew
- Step 2 Toy Insiders (currently unavailable, but check back from time to time)
2. Hunt for Free Toys on Freecycling Sites
Freecycling is giving away stuff for free instead of selling them or throwing them away, especially if this is arranged via the internet or smartphone applications.
Many non-profit organizations are now in a network to connect those giving away free stuff, including free toys, to those who need them.
Not only does freecycling keep waste out of landfills, but this also makes free stuff available to those who need them.
If you do go this route, remember that you’re going to be dealing with strangers. So like any other transaction with strangers, be careful with your personal information, such as your social security number and account numbers.
Here are some sites where you can get freecycled toys.
- Trash Nothing
- Freegle (UK only)
- Reuse Marketplace
- Buy Nothing Project
- Streetbank (UK only)
- Good Use App
3. Browse Through the Free Sections of Local Buy and Sell Sites
There are local buy and sell sites and apps that have a category for free items, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: it lists items whose owners simply want to get rid of quickly that they’re willing to give these items away for free.
Search for terms like “free toys,” “baby and kids,” or “toys and games” to start you off.
Here are some sites you can look at:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Craigslist (select your local area)
- Oodle Marketplace
4. Request Free Toys from Non-profit Organizations
Many non-profit organizations collect toy donations and choose recipients based on certain conditions. For instance, some non-profits select recipients who fall below the poverty line, while others select families whose head is serving in the military.
Know that most of these organizations send free toys only to those who really are in need. For example, kids of parents who have lost a job recently, kids whose parents are trying to succeed in drug rehabilitation, or other specific eligibility requirements set by the organization.
Here are some non-profit organizations to consider contacting to get free toys.
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Founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks, Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. The main role of this organization is to distribute new, unwrapped toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas.
To request for toys, you’ll need to contact the local campaign coordinator for your local Toys for Tots campaign.
If you have a child with a life-threatening disease who can benefit from a wish coming true, you can refer them to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. If you’re familiar with this program, you already know a beneficiary child can get so much more than free toys.
Your local United Way Christmas Bureau coordinates with other non-profits and charities to give out free toys, clothes, books, and other donated gifts to children.
Catholic Charities is a network of charities all over the country aiming to help the less fortunate. To request free toys and other gifts for children, contact your local Catholic Charities agency.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is a worldwide organization of lay Catholics founded in 1833. They have been serving the poor, the suffering, and the deprived ever since.
Among their numerous programs, the society heads Christmas programs for the needy. Find your local Society of St. Vincent de Paul office to sign up as beneficiaries.
The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program provides free toys, gifts, clothing, food, and more at Christmas to children who otherwise would not be receiving very much during the holidays. Contact your local Salvation Army to ask for assistance.
Prison Fellowship Angel Tree provides camping, sports camps, and Christmas programs to children and families of prisoners with the support of local churches.
If your local church isn’t registered yet, encourage them to sign up so they can receive and distribute donations from this program.
Lions Club is a service organization whose volunteers often donate their time and money to create Christmas for children and seniors.
Ask your local Lions Club about their holiday programs to get free toys and gifts for children.
Family Giving Tree works with more than 200 agencies in the Bay Area to gather and fulfill wishes of children, as well as seniors and homeless adults.
Find a local drive by looking up their participating agencies and schools.
Wouldn’t it be nice if one can write a letter to Santa and actually get a free toy from it?
Well, USPS Operation Santa aims to do just that.
To get started, write a letter to Santa with a wish list that is as detailed as possible. For instance, include names of specific toys, book titles, favorite colors, favorite characters, and anything else that will help the letter adopter buy just the right gifts.
Mail the letter by the first week of December so that there’s plenty of time for the letter to be reviewed and adopted.
The letters are scanned and published so that generous people can adopt the letters and get just the right gifts to fulfill the letter writers’ wishes. The gifts are then shipped on behalf of the North Pole, and the magic of Christmas is shared by all.
Other Ways You Can Get Free Toys
You can also take a chance at traditional sources, such as garage sales in your neighborhood or your own church. You’ll never know when people want to dispose of old toys, so always be on the lookout.
Have you considered toy swapping? This activity involves exchanging toys from your household with another parent/kid. The toys you receive could look “new” to your kids, even if they’re actually pre-loved toys.
Do you know more sites and resources that give away free toys during Christmas (or even on regular days)? Please leave me a comment below!