Link to Hope

The featured items on the Link to Hope calendar for September are Toys and Games.   The calendar says, ‘Send fun in your shoebox with a yoyo, skipping rope, toy cars, draughts, dominoes and playing cards etc’. 

My go to items for the essential item of a small game are playing cards, dominoes or snakes and ladders game.  It’s still possible to get 2 packs of playing cards for £1.00 in One Beyond, Proper Job, Poundland, larger Morrisons stores, and Tesco if you have a club card (though you have to buy two items to qualify for the discount).  Proper job also had one pack of cards and 5 dice which would be useful if you want to make a snakes and ladders game.

Poundland have a set of dominoes in a wooden box which also comes with 5 dice, which again could be useful if you want to make a snakes and ladders game.

I usually add playing cards or dominoes to the elderly boxes and playing cards or snakes and ladders to the family boxes.  I created snakes and ladders games by printing out the game from this site for free and then add counters or small buttons and a dice (this is where the dice with the dominoes/playing card sets come in).  There are other versions available online some even include counters and a dice to print out (I’m not sure how successful a paper dice would be, but may work ).  You could try making a card spinner, with numbers or you can buy packs of dice from Amazon ranging from £2.38 for 10 (free delivery if you have Amazon Prime) so about 24p each, 30 for £3.99 about 13-14p each,  100 for £7.99  or about 8p each.  For the counters you could use small buttons, or cut out small circles of coloured card, or purchase counters.  The cheapest I could see on Amazon were £2.69 for 100.  You may need to check the size of the counters/buttons against the size of the squares on the snakes and ladders board.  I fold the printed snakes and ladders game and add it to a zip lock bag with the counters and dice, or occasionally I stick the printed game to the inside of the shoebox lid.

If you don’t have access to a printer you can buy similar small versions of snakes and ladders on Amazon for £1.69 or on ebay you can get 6 for £3.50. 

In the family boxes as one (or more) of the 5 additional items, I add a variety of small toys so that if there are several children there will hopefully be something for each of them.  I try and add a small soft toy to each shoebox – (they need to be small to allow room for all the other items that I need to fit in the box.)   There are often bargains to be found following Christmas and Easter with themed soft toys sold off.  I got a couple in January from Tesco – one was 25p and the other 30p.  Charity shops are another source – I picked some up from a bargain box in a local children’s hospice store for 50p each but remember they must have a CE label. 

Toy cars are another item I add to each family box.  I’ve previously bought boxes of 36 die cast cars from One Beyond for £5.00 but they didn’t have any in stock on my last visit.  They had boxes of 10 small plastic cars for £1.50 so at 15p per car I can add divide the pack up and add a few cars per box.  They don’t take up much room so that’s an added bonus and if there’s more than one child they can have one each.  Poundland usually have packs with 2 or 3 cars for £1.00, or you could buy one slightly larger car or tractor for £1.50.  The Range have 8 die cast cars for £2.49 (31p each), or the same multi-packs on Ebay and Amazon are at least a pound more.  (The identical packs of 10 cars from One Beyond are between £4.00 and £4.50 on Ebay and Amazon).  Amazon and Ebay have other larger packs of toy cars which can work out between 22p and 30p per car.

Tennis balls are a good option, but I haven’t found any cheap options.  Small bouncy balls can often be picked up for £1.00 for 10 or so balls.  I’ve purchased some uninflated footballs from Amazon which work out at 38p each but I did need to purchase 40 of them!  You also need to factor in the cost of a pump to add to the shoebox.   

Party bag fillers can be a good source of low-price toys.  Multi packs of small yoyos can work out at less than 50p each – there seem to be fewer in store, but Home Bargains have a pack of 4 mini yoyo’s for 99p! or they can be purchased on-line, (or one light up yoyo can be bought from Poundland for £1.00).  Asda stock a pack of 4 skipping ropes for £1.50 which work out at 38p each.  (Alternatively, One Beyond, and larger Morrisons stock a wooden skipping rope for £1.00.)  Party blowers are fun to add and can be purchased in many stores.  Mini jigsaw puzzles can also be purchased on-line from Amazon – 6 for £1.95 – there are some on ebay but the ones I’ve seen are more expensive. 

There are lots of party bag fillers on Amazon including fidget keyrings, squishy toys, mini rubik’s cubes, mini four in a row, mini bubbles, slinkys etc.  

There are so many options for toys to add, construction sets (like lego), creative packs including sew your own glove puppets, and colouring pencils and colouring books (don’t forget a pencil sharpener if adding pencil crayons.)

The Farm Animal Sanctuary

The Crisis Appeal is still going but they have now raised 50% of the total they are aiming for, but still need to raise a lot more money.  Every donation helps especially if agree to gift aid your donation.  If you are a UK taxpayer and agree to gift aid an extra 25p is raised for each £1.00 you donate at no cost to you :).  If you donate £4.00 and tick gift aid the Farm Animal Sanctuary will actually receive £5.00 😊.

Unfortunately, due to a bereavement I wasn’t able to attend their open weekend and host a stall, but they had a stall at Wild Hogs Hedgehog rescue’s open weekend, so I took some of my decorated boxes and some hand-held fans for them to sell on their stall.  (It was a hot weekend so the fans sold out 😊and most of the boxes sold 😊.) 

They are still open for weekend visits – but you do need to pre-book and they are hosting a Halloween event – Spooky Sanctuary on 28 October from 11:00am to 3:00pm – tickets available on-line.   The Christmas Fair is on 25 November. 

This month’s bargains.

Not many bargains so far this month.  Poundstretcher have some fidget toys reduced to 50p each.  They do have names on the packages, but you could remove the packaging and no-one would know 😊.  As mentioned above you can get 4 small yoyo’s from Home Bargains for 99p. 

Not exactly bargains but I’ve started to stock up on sweets – which is next months calendar feature.  I purchased some Fruitella multipacks containing 3 packets from One Beyond for £1.00 but then went into Tesco and found they had multipacks containing 4 packets for £1.00 !!  Home Bargains have a multi pack of small love hearts for 89p (it contains 13 mini packs) and a multi pack of 18 Dark Skittles for £2.49, – this is the first shop I’ve seen the mini Skittles packs in so far this year, but they should start appearing with the Halloween sweets in more stores.

I hope to do the £10.00 challenge again in the next few weeks – which is definitely going to be harder this year – as an example the Tesco soap which was 30p in January is now 40p!  I think it can still be achieved though, with the bargains found during the year.  Hopefully it’s still possible with items still available in the shops for those starting to shop for items for their boxes now – fingers crossed 😊.

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