Recession or not, the holidays are here. With the economy in a tailspin, those hard-earned dollars might seem just a little too precious to spend on a mass-produced toy. Fortunately, New York City offers endless options for make-it-yourself playthings. The benefits of running amok with the kids in a do-it-yourself toy store are numerous. You'll wind up with a child's delight, a one-of-a-kind toy you can't find on a superstore shelf and a moment's relief from the Dow.
Visitors to FAO Schwarz, the toy store of toy stores, can stop into the Muppet Whatnot Workshop to build their own Whatnot (those zany extras in Muppets productions). More than 72,000 combinations are possible. Farther down Fifth Avenue is American Girl Place, where girls can learn about dolls' history (and build dolls that look just like them). If your kids prefer a toy of the stuffed variety, however, the Build-A-Bear Workshop flagship is right down the road. And boys will have a blast on the second floor of the Toys "R" Us in Times Square, home to ROBOTGALAXY, where a variety of parts can combine for more than a thousand different robots.
If you're leery of Midtown crowds, you have other options. Toy Tokyo in the East Village sells do-it-yourself toys. And in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge neighborhood, Kaleidoscope has a Build a Friend station featuring a variety of animals.
No matter where you go, creating a toy will help build your child's self-esteem, which is, of course, priceless.