Waldorf on a Budget (And the Fabulous Things I Find at Thrift Shops!)

We are a Waldorf family. Bunkers goes to a local Waldorf school and is part of the multi-age kindergarten there. At 3.5 years old he’s the youngest child; a role in which he really thrives. We have been using many Waldorf principles and philosophies since he was an infant and one of them has been to have our home be in a Waldorf ‘style’.

For us, this means that we choose warm, natural paint colors and soft, natural furniture.

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We also tend towards this philosophy with regards to toys and playthings. We are not plastic free in our house, though – we have a fair amount of Playmobil toys but they get played with the most! The group of 3-5 year old boys in our natural mamas group just adores them and will play with them for hours!

However, all of the kids love our playstands (which I bought on Craigslist for $150) and the nice wooden toys inside, as well as the wooden kitchen and playfood.

Buying lovely wooden Waldorf toys and play things can be very expensive. I love to support the artisans who craft these things when I can (and we have purchased many truly wonderful hand crafted toys!), but I do like to save money when I can and I have found that there is a treasure trove of Waldorf toys to be found at local thrift or charity shops such as Goodwill, Value Village, Salvation Army, St. Vincent’s, etc. I will share with you some of the things I have found!

Some wonderful Waldorf finds!
A gorgeous wooden sewing machine found at Value Village for $2.99. I added string and a small scrap of fabric for ‘sewing’. A basket of felt veggies, both items found separately at Goodwill.
Bowls! Thrift shops are fabulous for wooden bowls, wooden trays (we use this one for snacks at playgroup, but it could be used for sorting), and even a wooden goblet. I found this little porcelain cooking pot and it’s used in the play kitchen. The lid went missing in our last move, though! Just out of frame here are a couple baskets I’ve found, as well. So.many.baskets to be found at thrift shops! The silks I made, but this gorgeous bowl is perfect to house them.
Another find in the ‘wood stuff’ section was this wooden tool box. It could be used for a child’s tools, but Bunkers has a different set. Instead, I use it to keep our candles and incense together. Also, I got a set of three of these adorable clay candle holders at Value Village in Wisconsin! They are precious and we use them at our table for beeswax candles lit during mealtimes.
This (well loved) rocking horse I found at Goodwill for $5. One of my best finds, I feel! Also, the little metal xylophone is a favorite and was just $1! I also found that sheepskin rug on the right of this picture at Goodwill for $7. I washed it and brushed it out and it’s fabulous! Better view of a couple baskets. The wooden ‘crate’ basket usually houses wooden animals.
Another great find! This I found at a local children’s consignment shop and paid $7 for it. I decorated a few of the gnomes myself. Another big hit at playgroup.

I’ve had lots of people ask me how I find these things – and the answer is that I go to these shops often. These finds are after years of checking Goodwill and Value Village several times a month. It’s fun for me and I like hunting for awesome things. I do my best to be a mindful shopper and only buy things that I truly need or will actually use.

I don’t just go to thrift shops looking for toys, though – I buy about 90% of Bunkers’ clothes there. I have found it’s been such a great deal. Not only do babies and children grow out of clothes so quickly, but they often don’t get to wear something much before it’s too small. A very good percent of the clothing I have found for children at thrift stores is in like new condition – some still with tags! I’ve found Hannah Andersson, North Face, Gap, Gymboree, Mini Boden, and Land’s End for great prices at thrift shops. I buy almost all of my clothes there as well.

Another thing I find at thrift shops are woolen blankets. We keep a stash of them in our cedar chest for winter time. Each person in our family has one and we keep one extra on hand as well. Woolen blankets can be used for things other than blankets, too. You can use that wool for fabric for sewing. I also purposefully felted one wool blanket and we use it as a wet pad under the sheet on our bed. It’s never failed us!!

Yet another thing I keep a look out for a thrift shops is small silverware. Silverware is HUGE these days! I much prefer the dainty silverware of years past, and, obviously, so does Bunkers. I buy ‘small’ silverware (as in, what was considered ‘normal size’ in the 50s and 60s but is now about toddler/young child size) for him to use.

Art is another thing I buy at thrift shops. I have some really adorable and really fabulous pieces that I adore that were just a few dollars at the thrift store! Art is very expensive to buy new!

I also buy some kids books at the thrift store. I have to be very particular and I read them all from cover to cover before I buy them as there is a lot of really awful writing for children out there. But, I have found some great books. A perfect example was this Laura Ingalls picture book. It’s simply adorable.

Do you thrift shop? What awesome things have you found?


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