Question: I’m dreading all of the toys my kids will get at Christmas, because we can barely contain the ones they have already. How can we keep the toy clutter from exploding after Christmas?
Answer: The younger your kids are, the more toys they seem to get at Christmas. To keep the toys from taking over your house, it is essential to pare down their toy collection.
1. If you have younger children (age 8 and under), take note of what their favorite toys are. Then, a few days before Christmas or even a few days after Christmas, box up the toys they have stopped playing with and put them into storage. Label the box and write a date three months from the current date on the box. It’s best to do this when your children are not present! If your children have not asked for the toys after that date on the box, you can probably donate the toys with no hard feelings.
If they ask about the toys, you can either try to convince them to part with them permanently or you can start a system of putting toys in rotation. That is, you will let them have the toys in the box back, but only if they agree to let you box up an equal amount of their other toys.
2. A fair number of families have to do their Christmas shopping at places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army store. Make more toys available for them to buy and seize a golden opportunity to teach your children about charitable giving by having them donate their outgrown toys. Please make sure you are donating toys that are in good shape with all of the pieces still intact.
3. When you go Christmas shopping for your munchkins, think long and hard before you buy any huge toys that will eat up a lot of your precious space or toys with a zillion small pieces that you will forever be nagging your kids to pick up. I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy those toys; I’m just saying you might want to keep those toys to a minimum.
4. Get relatives to give fewer toys and more gifts of experiences. For example, they could get the kids zoo memberships, movie gift certificates, ice cream gift cards, etc.
5. Give yourself the gift of toy storage furniture and reap the benefits of an easy-to-manage playroom. Or call in a professional organizer (contact me at reSPACEd at http://respacedpdx.com/sfd/) to show you how to make the most of your playroom’s space.
Image courtesy of di_the_huntress at Flickr. In my worst organizing nightmare, those presents would contain nothing but boxes upon boxes of individual Lego sets.