I typically do learning activities that require a fair amount of prep work on my part. I am currently 13 weeks pregnant with my fourth child, however, and most days find it pretty hard to do the work I usually do. I got thinking about ways to still do learning activities when you are on a time budget--whether it is because of sickness, business, taking-care-of-a-newborn-ness, or pregnancy-ness.
My first thought was Oriental Trading Magazine. They have a whole lot of fun activities you can do with your children. The activities come ready for you to do--you just open it and get started. It is also quite inexpensive per project.
There are a couple of tricky things about going this route.
One is that you are buying in bulk. The mailbox you see pictured above came in a kit of 12. I have three children, not 12. There are a few ways to resolve this. One is to save the extras for next year. Another is to give them to a friend. You could also invite friends over and have a little craft party. Finally, you could ask a friend or two if they wanted to go in on it with you before you ordered.
The other tricky thing about this is that you have to order in advance if you want the item by a certain time. Shipping doesn't take long, but longer than it takes you to run to the dollar store. They do have plenty of activities you can get that are not holiday specific, so you could either go that route, or go order today and just get everything you want for St. Patricks Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Independence Day, etc. Shipping is usually free if you order $50 dollars worth or more, so I usually get things for several holidays at once anyway.
Just so you know, I was not asked to promote this company and I don't get anything if you buy anything from them. I just think it is a nice solution for the mom wanting to do activities but unable to spend the time getting them ready--for whatever reason. It is also a fun place for parties.