Parents can spend hundreds of dollars on toys for their children unnecessarily. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely quality toys out there that are worth the money you spend on them. But you don't need to pay a ton of money just to have a little fun with your kids.
Here are some suggestions to equip your family with the supplies you'll need for many arts and crafts activities:
1. Use what you have. Art can be made with beans, pasta, peas, yarn, old magazines, etc. You can even use seasonal things like fall leaves or spring flowers.
2. Save your junk. You can make so many things out of everyday household items. I keep a box in the closet under my staircase and fill it with empty egg cartons, frosting containers, cereal boxes, ketchup bottles, seasoning shakers, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, etc. Even if you don't have a specific craft in mind, it's better to keep a fun shaped squeeze bottle than to postpone a project till you empty another one.
3. Check out http://www.freecycle.org/. It's a free program where people in your area post things they are getting rid of. I scored a HUGE box of craft supplies from someone who was just cleaning out her closet-- all for free! You can also post items you are looking for under a "wanted" headline. Once I needed a bunch of newspapers to cut up for one of my girl's birthday parties. I posted that I wanted the paper and within 20 minutes I had 4 people offer me some.
4. Buy a lot of supplies in August during Back To School sales. You can never get enough glue, crayons, markers, and watercolors. They are much cheaper just before school than any other time of year.