I rarely buy toys for my kids. It's an idea passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me. The idea is not to buy toys but to invent toys or games for kids.
Since I was very young, my mother always says she doesn't believe in ready made toys as they are not fun. I have 3 brothers and I'm the youngest. We always invented toys made from papers, cups, discarded items like pot, wire, rope, etc etc. We make use of recycle items and convert it into toy house, cable cars (using boxes and ropes and attached to our double deck bed), build rooms using blankets and bamboo sticks in our bedrooms (we even have a tiny toilet in our room), paper balls, boat, kite etc. Anybody came out with an idea of certain toy, we would make that fun toy immediately. Most of the time the craft is done by my eldest bro as he is the smartest among us.
Many times, we would come out with script and act it out as a game. My eldest bro was always the bad guy, my younger bros were the heroes and I was the princess they need to protect and rescue. We played haunted house (my second brother is ghost and we are visitors cos my second bro acts ghost well), zoo (my bros are animals and I'm visitor), hero rescue, ghost comb (my second bro...ghost again...holding a ghost come and chased after us. Whoever being poked by comb would be the ghost), riding mad horse (my bros are the mad horse and I need to ride on them till I fell from their back). It's really fun and at zero cost.
Now, it's my turn to pass this idea to my kids. I started with them when they were very young. When they were one year old, I made toys from papers and cloth. When they get older, they are able to make themselves. It just happen naturally.
My kids simply love their own invented games and toys. There's once my youngest son told me "mum, ready made toys are not interesting as compare to the toys or games we come out with ourselves." I guess, it's the fulfillment that hey have being able to create something fun to play. At times when my kids receive toys as birthday and Christmas presents, they really love the toys but the feelings are a bit different. They will play for some time and you will notice that they normally put them aside and go back to their own games.
Here is a vedio I capture when my younger son was playing "Homemade Snow" with his sister using papers. See how much fun they have. Enjoy the vedio. Cheers.