As every parent is aware, toys can be astronomically expensive, especially nowadays. The run-up to Christmas is sometimes approached with dread for parents as kids’ get their hands on toy store catalogues and come up with ideas of what they want, irrespective of price range. Here are ten great value ideas for Christmas presents for Christmas 2011.

#10 - Play-Doh Mega Fun Factory (and others)

A simple concept that has been around for a very long time, Play-Doh, with the right tools and fun accessories, is a cost-effective toy that can be great for children up to the ages of five or six. It allows the kids to tap into their own creativity and it will keep them occupied for hours, building and mixing colors. For some variation, try metallic or neon colours, and if finances allow, purchase something like the ‘Twirl and Top Pizza Shop’ toy which, at $14.99 allows kids to build their own Play-Doh pizzas with miniature ‘kitchen utensils’ before popping it in the oven.

#9 - Karito Kids Travel Charmers Soft Dolls

For girls, there’s sometimes nothing better than simplicity. Few little girls don’t want a new doll to cradle, feed, dress, or push around in a stroller. Although dolls at the high end of the market can cost a fortune, there are certainly dolls available that will still capture the heart of your little girl without breaking the bank. Rag dolls are actually back in fashion, with good ones, like Karito normally retailing at around $15. These dolls have a lot of personality and will become part of the family.

#8 - Tetherball

Once your kids are of age, tetherball is a really neat thing to be able to have in your very own backyard. In the absence of a backyard, look for a set that’s relatively portable so that you can take it to the beach or park. Collapsible versions are certainly available. Outdoor toys are normally quite expensive, but tetherball is one great idea that won’t break the bank. Even a very young child can swing at a light ball with a racket. Toys ‘R Us have a great set retailing at $20.

#7 - Lego Board Games

Not normally costing over $30, Lego have released a lot of really great board games that kids can have a blast building and then have a blast playing! The most popular so far has been the Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts game, but the Minotaurus and Race 3000 games are also worth looking into. Lego is great to stimulate a child’s brain and encourage a sense of pride in work and accomplishing something more exciting than a puzzle, for example.

#6 - Pillow Pets

A parent-generated craze of 2011, Pillow Pets are something of a Beanie Baby, but geared at a younger child with more of an emotional attachment to a soft toy. The super-soft chenille plush toy comes in an endless amount of different animals types. Once its belly is un-velcroed, it becomes a pillow. Perfect for travel or just for any child who wants a good ole’ fashioned teddy bear. These must-buy toys are available from $15.99.

#5 - Hedbanz

There always needs to be some kind of conventional board game under the tree, and this year, Hedbanz is probably a good choice. This game, on sale for about $14, will provide hours of fun for family and friends. Pick a card from the pack (you might make your own eventually), place it on your head band so that everyone except you can see it and begin asking questions as to what you are! It’s that easy, encourages good deductive thinking in children and is guaranteed to make everybody laugh.

#4 - Alex Toys Friends 4 Ever Bracelet Making Kit

A little bit steeper at $30, purchasing parents, relatives and friends need to look at this present as presents with in a present. This gift will continue to give, allowing the lucky recipient to make her own bracelets with beads, beading needles and string in every color of the rainbow. The case is really handy for carrying it around, and contains looms upon which different types of bracelets can be woven. A dream present for an industrious child who loves jewelry.

#3 - Multi Voice Changer by Toysmith

This voicer changer built into a speakerphone is a bit of harmless fun ((although morning wake up calls might leave you having second thoughts) and is available for only $15. The toy also has flashing lights and allows for well over 10 different voice types. This toy can be used for every day fooling around, but also as a part of puppet shows, hide and seek, and playing practical jokes on dad.

#2 - Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow Kit

This cool toy will appeal to boys and girls. For sale at $14.99, it makes yet another good value Christmas purchase. It won the iParenting Media Award for excellent product and Top Toy of the year from Creative Child magazine. It can be used indoor or outdoor and comes with four light foam glow-in-the-dark rockets. The junior stomp rocket is suitable for kids from the age of three up. For kids around the age of eight, there is an ultra stomp rocket, which can fire 100 feet or more.

#1 - Lego Walkie Talkies

A regular fixture on kids’ Christmas lists, walkie talkies are a truly exciting present for any child with neighbors, siblings, or excitable parents. These Lego walkie talkies are selling for $30 dollars, have a range of almost a mile, and are easy to use, with one push-to-talk button. It’s not a new concept by any means, but if your home doesn’t have a set yet, this colourful version is certain to bring weeks of entertainment to any child. This is truly a great and timeless toy.

Christmas on a budget isn’t as hard as it can seem. As well as the above options there is great value to be had on the clearance sections of websites, in thrift store bargains and in a bit of creativity and initiative in your shopping.