25 Household Items To Save For Pretend Play

Last updated on November 6th, 2022 at 01:58 pm

Before you throw out or recycle these common household items, consider keeping them for your toddler or preschooler to use for pretend play.  Using common items instead of toys can help spark their imagination even further when engaging in imaginative play.  

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Pretend Play Time

My two and a half year old is loving playing pretend right now.   We now pretend play more often then play with her toys how they were designed to use.    

For example, this morning we used her trampoline as a grocery store check out counter.   I laughed when she said ‘Welcome to Brooklyn-Mart!’ as she welcomed me to her ‘Store’.  

There are all sorts of pretend play grocery stores out there:

Amazon’s most popular three:

  1. Melissa & Doug Grocery Store
  2. Little Tykes Shop & Learn
  3. Melissa & Doug Wooden Play Food

While they are well designed they take out some of the imagination and fun out of playing pretend.    

So as her imagination continues to develop I’ve been holding onto items that I would normally recycle or throw out so we can use them as part of our games.    

25 Household Items to Save for Pretend Play

From Your Kitchen:

Note: clean everything thoroughly

Spice containers

Egg cartons

Paper towel roll

Empty food boxes (ex. cereal, macaroni and cheese, etc)

Empty plastic containers with lids (ex. sour cream)

Fruit baskets (the ones strawberries come in)

Tupperware (finally a use for ones with missing lids!)

Toiletries and Laundry:

Toilet Paper Roll

Laundry Baskets  

Old Blankets  



Note: Take the batteries out

Remote Controls


House Phone

Cell Phone


From Your Closet:






Wallet (Keep some expired gift cards or loyalty cards you don’t use anymore inside)


Cardboard Boxes



Cards (Birthday, Christmas, Etc)

Store Receipts

Pretend Play Household Items

Not only does using everyday items help encourage imagination it also saves money on toys and gives life to items that would otherwise be thrown out.   What other items should I start to hold onto? Share your ideas below!

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