Hi Kelkat, those are some good ideas. Focusing on doing for others is great, experiences versus things certainly last much longer. I am seriously rethinking what I'll do next year. Extended family is difficult for me because we don't live close and xmas and birthday's are the only time I ever spend $ on them (no family dinners, etc.)
I recently saw some great sales for some of the things you mentioned -http://www.Scholastic.com
is having their annual $1 teacher sale (books included) (the public can buy as a 'homeschooler').http://www.sortfloorbooks.com
has Free shipping right now (orders over $14.99) - they have many great books for just $1 or $2. Searching is a pain, but you can look under the categories or search authors, etc. I shopped by opening Amazon.com to search and read reviews of the books. I bought Captain Underpants, Zombie Butts From Uranus! (ha ha), and the Ultimate Nose Pickers Collection (ha ha again, lol).http://www.ssww.com
has a 576 piece Lego set for $28.95 (LEGO Big Bulk Set) - they have other Lego's, too. Spend $29 or more and Enter code W2646 for $10 off plus Free shipping. (so buy something else cheap and just spend around $20).
I've previously ordered from all of the above and they are reliable. I hope that helps. We bought our oldest a 'cheap' metal detector a couple years ago and it really didn't work that well, I should have done my research better. What sort of trains does your 2yo have? We have had the Geo-Trax for several years, they're very tough and all of mine still play with them.