‘Twas the morning of Christmas, when all through the house
The children were stirring, including the spouse.
They ran to the tree, to see what was there:
Presents galore, and all wrapped with care.
Doll houses, kitchen sets, a tool bench too!
But where it would go, not a soul knew.
Oh, Christmas! The most magical time of year is nearly upon us. Your kids are dreaming of the new toys they’ll receive Christmas morning — and you’re looking forward to seeing their reactions. But if your home is lacking space (as mine sure is) you may also be headed into a toy-overload nightmare.
With 3 kids in a 3-bedroom apartment, I’ve had to get pretty creative over the years to keep the toy avalanche at bay, and I’m willing to share my tricks of the trade. Here are my top 5 tips for keeping your children’s toys from overtaking the house this holiday season.
1. Opt For Fewer Toys
In our house we have a set budget allotted for each child during Christmas. And that can mean one of two things: They can either have several lower-priced toys or they can have just a few “big ticket” items. And I know, I can hear your kids now: “Fewer toys?” they’ll scream. But you won’t even tell them. Have your kids write out a Christmas wish list; then go through the list and pick the bigger-ticket items. It’s a perfect opportunity to splurge on that new guitar or Xbox they have been asking for. Instead of 8 or 10 items per kid under the tree they may only have 4 or 5.
The trick is to do this for each child and keep the numbers the same because you know how kids are, if Billy has 6 presents and Sarah only has 4 … there’s gonna be a fight!
2. Storage Containers
Proper storage is a must! From bookcases to bin organizers to cubbies, there are so many different storage options you can purchase. But you can also keep it very simple with plastic containers and old shelves that don’t have a purpose anymore. Last year I converted a large book shelf into a toy shelf. I put the books into a cute white cabinet that was just sitting in the closet. The toys wouldn’t all fit into the cabinet and we didn’t have enough books to fill the book shelf so it was just a matter of rethinking the furniture we already had to use our space more efficiently.
Of course, we keep the larger toys on the floor, like my daughter’s Barbie house but all of her Barbies, Barbie clothes, cars and furniture have their own pink Barbie container. The same goes for my son: We keep his Transformers garage on the floor, but all of his Rescue Bots and Transformers figures have their own little plastic container.
Using as much space as possible means really getting creative — and last year, that’s what I did. It all started when I decided to take my kids’ annoying “never stay on the track” closet doors off. There was all this floor space that I had never thought to use before! So I bought a couple of plastic 3-drawer cart containers and filled them with toys! I even sorted them: cars, action figures, ponies, purses, dress up costumes, and all of those annoying Happy Meal toys the kids only play with once but won’t ever let me throw away. The nice part: They were all neatly tucked away in the closet, yet still accessible; and the kids had more floor space in their rooms.
4. Don’t Forget the Walls
With the right additions, such as nets and shelves, wall storage keeps toys off the floor and neatly displayed. My kids LOVE stuffed animals and probably have close to 50 or 60 of them, so a few years ago I bought several larger nets. They were relatively cheap, but the real value was that the animals now had a home, rather than being thrown all over the floor or taking over the beds.
Wall shelving is another nice addition. There are several different kinds, such as wall cubes that could probably house a few small toys or books, or flat shelves that anchor into the wall and come in lots of different sizes and colors.
5. Give Away, Donate, Throw Out or Sell
When in doubt, get it out! I mean, honestly, do our children really need so many toys? After a year, if I no longer see my kids interested in playing with something, we just give it away. Last year we bought my son the Imaginext Castle, and unfortunately he’s just really not that into it. So it’s gotta go. My daughter Hailey, who will be turning 2 soon, has pretty much outgrown her baby toys; and since she’s the last baby we’ll be donating or selling them. My favorite place to donate is Goodwill.
Or maybe you’d rather turn those old toys into cold hard cash. You can start by listing your pieces for sale on a local resale site like Craigslist or Facebook. My moms group even has a Facebook resale page and it’s so popular most things are sold within just a few hours of being posted. You could also take your items to a consignment shop like Once Upon a Child and possibly walk away with a few extra dollars to go toward new gifts.
Share with us! How do you keep your kids’ toys organized?