This time of year there is a lot of chatter about gift giving and gift buying—including buying and giving toys! However, if you have a lot of kids to buy for, or if you don’t have a lot of money for which to buy, making every dollar count is key. So here are a few ways to save a few bucks on toys:

1. Shop outside the box. Instead of shopping at the traditional toy big box stores, or even the local Mom and Pop toy stores, head to a non-traditional toy store. Many stores have toy departments within their larger merchandising. Stores like BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, Home Goods, TJMaxx, or Marshalls have a great selection of toys at a fraction of the retail price. You’ll find that many stock the name brands and the latest toys too.

toys saving tips

2. Shop consignment. Whether it is the local Salvation Army retail store or a nearby kid consignment shop, they have more than just clothes, and often more than just used toys. It is worth stopping by. On many occasions, I’ve found toys still in the box and unopened.

3. Go to the source. Often we look for discounts from retailers, but skip the middleman and go directly to the brand. Sites such as Fisher-Price or Melissa and Doug sell directly on their site and have special seasonal offers too.

4. Follow online. Set up a separate email account and Twitter account and start following your favorite retailers and brands. You’ll see tweets with discount codes or coupons, or get the heads up on a flash sale. Setting up special email account for those ensures that the deals (often very time sensitive) don’t get lost in your daily electronic feeds.

5. Set Standards. Think about what you really need to give or what your kids really need to receive. Setting standards as to the amount or quantity of toys can go a long way to making sure they are happy during the holidays, and you are happy when the credit card bill comes in the mail.

Charlene DeLoach is a senior member of the Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board. She is a Mom to a 17-month-old and a 4-year-old, and writes at Metrowest-Mamas.com.