Usually on Thanksgiving I hit up the closest gas station (after my first cup of coffee of course) and get an old-fashioned newspaper that is FULL of ads. While all the hustle and bustle of getting the thanksgiving meal ready (for my family – less about turkey more about Cicatelli) I spread out all the ads and plan my strategy for Black Friday.
Black Friday might be a time when you are thinking about what you are getting for your children, office gift exchange, your family or let’s be honest - treating yourself! While there is absolutely no shame in that (hey – you’ve worked hard all year!), for me …it’s all things PLAY!
Being a Play Therapist is expensive. On the low end (like these kits here) it can take $70-80 to minimally stock an office…but the high end? You are talking thousands of dollars. From the toys, the furniture, the storage, and the rotating items like play dough, markers, and glitter. So. Much. Glitter.
I have always been on a budget to stock my playrooms and when I first went into private practice, you bet I bought everything from my doll house to my couch on Black Friday. I spent hours going through my list, flipping through ads, and making sure everything fit within my budget.
I wanted to drop my top 7 tips for Black Friday shopping as a Play Therapist!
1. Have a specific list – take stock of your playroom and identify the specific things you need to add or replace. Looking at all those ads across multiple stores can be overwhelming, especially if you are not sure what you are looking for or what you need. With a specific list it becomes easier search to find the best deal. AND don’t get things just to get things - if you get everything you want or is at a good price your Playroom will run the risk of looking full and cluttered!
2. Keep to theory - make sure that what you are buying is aligned with your theory and has a specific purpose in the Playroom. That life-size pony might look ahhhhhmazing BUT does it align with a specific purpose for play? AND what one play therapist is looking for on Black Friday might differ from the next due to theoretical orientation, types of children you work with, and most frequent techniques used!
3. Look at multiple stores – be willing to compare across multiple stores to see where you can get the best deal. Look for lowest price, best quality, most accessories, or most durable.
4. Be open to ALL stores – my favorite stores to by things at are Fleet Farm! Who would have known that a tractor supply store would have such a rocking selection of kids toys?
5. Order online + order early – Over the years I have enjoyed the transition from being up at 2am and in line at some store (which is quite cold in Minnesota in November and usually involved hand warmers) to sitting in my cozy pajamas on the couch clicking add to cart. Most stores offer some of the Black Friday sale product online. If this is the route you are going set a timer for when you will buy so you know when is the time to take all that loot to the checkout, seriously. Some things go quick online and if there is something you really have your heart on it could be gone quick. AND some stores will open sales online on Thanksgiving day – so read the fine print!
6. Set a budget – it is SO easy to start adding to cart (both online and in person) and at check out realize you overspent. There will be some good toys you will leave behind and that’s okay. As Elsa would say “let it goooo”!
7. Know your shipping and your map! If you are going shopping online make sure to see if a store has free shipping or a charge. Sometimes it is worth it to buy from the same place (if you have to be over a certain dollar amount) to save on shipping. If you are going in person (which, who knows in 2020?) make sure you are not zig zagging hours across town to hit all your stores. Plan a good route and have good coffee!
And there you have it – my top 7 Black Fri-PLAY tips!
Now, what are you thinking about for your Playroom this year? Drop a link in the comments if you come across any MUST HAVE deals for Play Therapists!
Not sure how to stock your Playroom or what you need? Check out this training HERE!
As I mentioned HERE it is super important to have more than one house in your Play Therapy collection. Two or more house allows children to play out themes related to transitions, divorce, moving homes, visiting friends (or conflict) in their neighborhood, being away from parents over night, and the list could go on!
With this tutorial we are getting downright handy. Like going to your local Home Depot, making saw dust, working with machines kind of handy.
I think it goes without saying that if you are not a handy person (BIG shout out to my husband Reid for helping me with this one) find a handy spouse, best friend, or family member to lend some of their time. I hope as therapists we know that we can always ask for help. Now, depending on tools used the cutting portion will take 30-45 minutes.
I created these houses here for my Portable Playroom to get the most bang for my buck. One 2x4 cost around $6-7 and made over 60 houses! That’s like $0.10 per house! And if you don’t need all of those houses? Find a play therapist who could use a little bump to his/her collection!
I wanted these houses to be very neutral and non-descript so they could also serve as schools, stores, or almost anything you would want it to be! AND making a TON of these were super cost effective.
Here are the step-by-step instructions for how to create these for your Playroom:
So after this project you can say - YOU GET A HOUSE! YOU GET A HOUSE! YOU ALL GET HOUSES! AND it's so much cheaper than when Oprah gives away houses! Okay – now go out and create!
When you are thinking about designing and stocking your Playroom OR if you are thinking about creating kits like these HERE a doctor kit is likely on your list. If you are a Child Centered Play Therapist or basing your playroom off Dr. Garry Landreth’s list for a fully equipped play room HERE you definitely have a doctor kit on your list! Doctor kits can help children play out themes of nurturing, medical trauma, as well as many other themes!
One of the things I have observed is that some toys in my doctor kit in my Playroom get used more than others. The biggest one is the stethoscope and kids LOVE band aids! Ohh…and the shots, definitely the shots!
When I was creating Play Therapy kits to go out to my clients I wanted something simple, with what my clients are drawn to most, and where I wouldn’t have a lot of expensive left over supplies.
I created several pintables for medication labels and the label for the bag to help the kits look authentic and stored them in a ZipLock bag. These kits came in around $8.00 for each kit.
One of the downfalls is that it doesn’t include a thermometer or a blood pressure cuff. However, the kits that were $10.00 looked pretty cheap and that they might break easily. The kids are LOVING the real-ish stethoscope! AND I have found using these kits for Tele-Play has been pretty similar to in office play and young people are able to play out the themes that they need.
These DIY Doctor Kits include:
Medicine Bottles (with free printable label) $6.63 for 25 - you can also take an empty medication bottle you have used (like Tylenol or Advil) and replace the label!
Stethoscope - $6.95
Syringe (4 for $1.00 at the Dollar Tree)
ZipLock Bag (with free printable label)
Click HERE for the free medical kits printable!
If you are looking for more training on how to set up a playroom check out this training HERE!
I'm Ann Meehan, an LPCC, RPT-S, and EMDR Consultant. I help other therapists grow in their passions as play therapists, trauma therapists,and child and adolescent therapists.