Play kitchens are one of the most popular big holiday gifts for toddlers and preschoolers, but if you think your kids might have more of an entrepreneurial bent than a domestic one, a play store may be in order. They're a great source of open-ended, imaginative play and will be the focus of any play dates you host. Although they can be quite simple to make, I'd suggest you get started planning now. I've amassed plenty of handmade play stores for you to peruse as well as tutorials to make some of the components.
Most of the play stores I came across are grocery-themed but the possibilities are endless: bakery, ice cream shop, florist, book store, etc. As you can see from many of these shops, you don't have to spend hours and hours handstitching play food (unless you want to!) or buying it either. Start saving up empty boxes and tins from your own kitchen to repurpose: easy and free.
Some of these play stores are quite elaborate, but yours can be as simple as a few shelves with baskets of things to sell and some paper play money. Start simple and add to it over time, perhaps buy (or make) a cash register for your child's birthday. Or add different kinds of play food or goods over time. If you do want to try your hand at sewing play food, check out our Gigantic List of Felt Food Tutorials.
1. A $50 DIY Play Supermarket by Funkytime
2. Jakob's "Tschorn" Play Supermarket by Yvonne of Moline
3. DIY "Mom and Pop" Play Store
4. Pretend Play Supermarket on Blueberry Junkie
5. Inspiration: Create a Play Store on The Oontand Blogs
6. Green Grocer Shop from Cardboard by Ikat Bag
7. DIY Toy Market Stall
8. Emil's DIY Play Store by Domestic Candy
9. A DIY Parisian Play Market by Kate's Creative Space
10. Create A Play Flower Shop by Mondo Cherry
11. Play Kitchen And Market Stall on IKEA Hackers
12. A Play Store From Ikea Components
13. DIY Play Market Tutorial by Diary of a Preppy Mom
14. Hutch-size Play Store by Trula Kids
15. Bistro Awning Mini Tutorial on MADE
16. Fabric Play Money by Rhythm of the Home
17. Make Your Own Play Money on Bloesem Kids
18. DIY Shopping Cart by Project: project
19. What To Do This Weekend: Stock a Little Shop on Journey Into Unschooling
20. DIY Ideas for Playing Shop by Kids Craft Weekly
(Images: 1. Funkytime 2. Moline 3. The Dittoes 4. Blueberry Junkie 5. The Oontang Blogs 6. Ikat Bag 7. Flickr user JerryBones used with permission 8. Domestic Candy 9. Kate's Creative Space 10. Mondo Cherry 11. Gabi Lämmli via IKEA Hackers 12. reader Ella 13. Diary of a Preppy Mom 14. Trula Kids 15. MADE 16. Rhythm of the Home 17. Helen/Curly Birds 18. Project: project 19. Journey Into Unschooling 20. Kids Craft Weekly)