Pretend Play on a Dime — Garden Center

Emily loves to pretend that she works at a garden center. She can spend hours arranging and re-arranging the flowers (as seen here), planting pretend seeds, and caring for her pretend plants. So Mark and I put together a little store front for her about a year ago, and she has been playing with it virtually every day since!

Mark put together the frame for the store front using inexpensive PVC pipe (thanks, honey!), and I sewed a banner from an old bed sheet. I painted the lettering using a freezer paper technique. 

Over the course of last Spring, we kept adding fun accessories to the garden center….We made lots and lots of tissue paper flowers — tutorial available here.
Emily’s garden apron was made from a tea towel — a very quick, easy, and frugal sewing project! She uses it for painting too!
She and I glued layers of tissue paper onto empty plastic mayonnaise containers to make pretty vases for the flowers! A watering can from the dollar store makes a great prop too!
What’s a garden center without seeds?? We made these seed packets from old junk mail envelopes. We stamped them with corks, like we did here.
The store comes apart for easy storage, but we had it fully assembled in our family room all Winter long. Emily was able to practice her gardening indoors — even when the ground was completely covered in deep snow. Plus it helped remind us that Spring was not too far away! 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to order a flower arrangement during her fabulous sale…. these deals won’t last forever!

Have fun!!

I linked this post to:


  1. Dear Valerie,

    Please do not let the girls take apart the plumbing under the sink to expand their garden center.


  2. What a great pretend store. I'm sure she gets lots of eager customers.

  3. Wonder Mom says

    What a "budding" little entrepreneur you've got there…

    (Sorry for the poor pun…it's late…)

    Just kn ow that in spite of my bad joke, I think this Garden Center ROCKS!!!

  4. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ Mark — Ha!! Easier said than done. πŸ˜‰

    @ Anna — It's so much fun! My brother and I used to play store all the time when we were kids…. good times!

    @ Wonder Mom — Thank you! It was such a great ongoing Spring/Summer project for us last year! There are so many good gardening books for kids that you can use to go along with it… fun!!

  5. That's pretty fantastic. I love it.

  6. Readily A Parent says

    That looks so fun! I think our kids might be a little different in personality, as mine would be hanging from the frame like it was monkey bars and calling the flowers "exploding ray bombs."
    Emily is so sweet. Love her little apron!

  7. Nice blog with nice picture of cutie enjoying in the garden. She is adorable. It was nice going through your blog.

  8. Wow! This is fantastic! I love it. I want to play! My husband would never agree to keeping that setup in the living room all winter!

  9. what a cute idea! love it! i may have to try something similar with my two. i think they would really enjoy a store front. πŸ™‚ thanks for all the great ideas!!

  10. Moderate Means says

    ADorable project! At the library last week I stumbled across a book of nothing but PVC furniture – I saw your pic and thought of it immediately πŸ™‚

    Cute pretend play idea – it's something we've never had but I think my kids would enjoy it.

  11. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ Readily A Parent — That image totally cracked me up! LOL Especially the "exploding ray bomb" part… Ha!!!!

    @ Flowers — Thank you so much!

    @ Christy — I wish you guys could come and play with us! It would be so much FUN!! πŸ™‚

  12. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ mel — Now that Clara is a bit older, she and Emily play with this store soooooo much! I have a feeling it would be a big hit with your two as well! Have fun!!

    @ Moderate Means — Now I know what to get Mark for Father's Day!!!! πŸ™‚

  13. Stacy of KSW says

    Valerie once again I am deeming you hands down the coolest Mom on the planet! Not to mention my go-to source of things to do with my kids – I cannot wait to make a Garden Center for my kids πŸ™‚

  14. Oh my goodness! That is fabulous. What great parents you are to put the time in to make her such a neat play center.

  15. You're one smart mommy! You know, I can see that growing 'with' her too!

    Lemonaid stand, kissing booth… LOL


  16. Ok, i want to be a kid at your house for a day.

  17. That's the cutest thing. What does she want to be when she grows up? She has such an imagination and so creative!

  18. Just Breathe says

    Adorable. You sure do show your girls a good time.

  19. Great idea! Love it!

  20. What a wonderful idea! She sure looks like she is having a lot of fun.

    It is just genius that you used old junk mail envelopes to make the seed packets.

  21. wow!! i want to play pretend garden center!

  22. That is so incredibly cute. I'd like to place an order of a half dozen pink flowers. Surprise me with what kind.

  23. What a great garden center imaginative play center!! Love it!

  24. Raising a Happy Child says

    What a beautiful idea – I love the level of detail you and Mark put into it. You are such a creative family!

  25. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ Judy — Kissing booth LOL That's so funny!!

    @ Petula — At the moment she wants to be a farmer who also owns a restaurant. I think it's a fabulous idea!

  26. I used to love doing stuff like this as a kid. For some reason, an airport check in desk was my pretend business of choice. Explains a lot really! lol


  1. […] store front for her about the year ago, as well as she has been personification with it … Go to full stories DON’T BE AFRAID OF COLOR IN THE GARDEN This post was created for a […]