The 5 cheapest ways to amuse the under 5’s!

We’ve all done it – spent hundreds of pounds/dollars on the latest toys for our kids, only for them to find the packaging they come in to be way more entertaining than the product itself. So to save you money, Y!kes my girlfriends pregnant presents ‘The top 5 cheapest ways to amuse the under 5’s.

5. Cardboard Box

Let’s start with a classic – what do kids and Solid Snake love more than anything? The humble cardboard box! It can be a spaceship, a castle or even a pirate ship. Why not cut a hole in the side to turn it into a homemade Punch and Judy style theatre?

However, as some entrepreneurial parents have discovered, by far the best use of the cardboard box is to build a winding and intricate labyrinth that kids can lose themselves in for hours.

Pop the cat in there too and it becomes an educational experience for your child, allowing them to experience the life and times of Theseus, as he sets out on his quest to slay the Minotaur.


Judging from this fine example below – another benefit is that they barely take up any space in the living room…

box 2
4. Their own food

You have to buy children food anyway, so you might as well let them play with it too. My son Roman spends hours expertly manoeuvring pureed chickpeas from the spoon to his clothes to the floor, before surreptitiously smearing it on the wall.

If it is so much fun, you have to wonder why adults spend so much time being boring and simply eating it. Well thank goodness for the La Tomatina festival in the Spanish town of Bunol, where thousands of people make their way from all corners of the world to duke it out in the ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight.’ More than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown each year.

taomtao war 2

The rules are simple – one brave soul has to climb to the top of a two storey high, greased-up wooden pole to claim a coveted ham. Once someone has claimed the meaty prize, this signals the beginning of the fight. After an hour, the fighting ends and fire engines spray down the streets. The events are more reminiscent of a war zone than a fun family activity, but those that do survive claim it to be ‘top fun!’

The tomato fight has been a strong tradition in Bunol since 1944…or 1945. No one is completely certain when and how this event originated, but rumour has it a group of parents were simply trying to find a cheap way to entertain their kids.

Want to be part of this year’s event – check out

3. Sellotape

Sticky-back plastic has a multitude of uses, from creating Tracy Island on Blue Peter to wrapping Christmas presents. However, as recently discovered by my girlfriend, sellotape also performs a mean stand-up set, managing to successfully land each and every one of its jokes. Watch me and Roman demonstrate the intoxicating power of the tape below:

2. Wait for it to snow

Admittedly, this one is not a quick fix…especially in the summer. However, when it does snow you can sled down hills using just tea trays, build smiley snowmen and have a crazed snowball fight. The upside being that a snowball fight can start at any time without the need to wait for a sweaty man to scale a greasy pole in search of some pork. That looks a lot dirtier written down than I thought it would.

1. Go to a local park

The number one top tip from Y!kes HQ is to go to a local park to let the kids run free and hopefully tire themselves out. If you are bored of taking the kids to a traditional play park then why not hop over to Italy (I realise this defeats the object of entertaining the kids on a budget smart alec) to Ai Pioppi. 40 years ago, the owner, an imaginative chap by the name of Bruno, began building his own rides to attract people to his family restaurant. More than just swings and a seesaw, Bruno has created a unique destination complete with multi-story slides, gyroscopes and bizarre kinetic roller coasters. One of which is ominously called on their website ‘Of Death Around.’ The beauty of it all is that every single attraction is powered by the rider, either using pedals or just their own brute strength. Fancy visiting?


So there you have it – you have not had to open your wallet and your children are thoroughly entertained.

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