Tips for Organizing Toys New and Old
Are you ready for the infiltration of toys, games, and clothes that are scheduled to appear in the next few days? Not just for children, but adults too. Although we know it is better to give than receive, I think we can all honestly say it is fun to be on the receiving end of a gift.
The part I struggle with is where do I put it all? Unless you have a mansion with a surplus of cabinets and counters, this question may cause you to pause. But don’t take your name off the gift exchange list quite yet. Below are ideas that you and your family can put into practice before and after the gift giving season.
Gifts are emanate so prepare your home for the new additions. If you notice a kitchen gadget that is still in its original packaging, or find a toy your kids haven’t played with since they day they received it, then it is time to get it out of your house. Humans are creatures of habit and the things we use, wear, or play with don’t differ too greatly day to day. If you haven’t used it in the past 6 months, the likelihood of it being used in the next 6 months is very minimal.
Don’t let toys take control over your house. As children are opening gifts, pull some aside and stash them away for a rainy day!
Our daughter’s birthdays are just a couple months after Christmas. The last thing we need after receiving a sleigh full of toys is more toys. Rather than focusing on what to buy and how much to spend, our guests can focus on coming to celebrate the event and having a good time. On the birthday invitations, I comment “No Gifts Please”.
In place of gifts, guests have given our girls homemade cards or small tokens of friendship (homemade pasta necklace, a finger painting, and a painted rock to name a few). You may consider honoring a charity and requesting the guests bring a new book, food item, or toy to donate.
I just cleaned the Tupperware cupboard! I put organization in the same bucket as dishes and laundry… just because you did it today, doesn’t mean there won’t be more to do tomorrow. If we stopped eating, cooking, shopping, receiving gifts, etc, then organization could take a vacation. But so far, that has not happened in our house.
Organizing doesn’t mean just moving things around to a different spot. Organizing to sorting the things you use and purging the things you don’t use. Here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to organizing.
- Put items in a bin or container if the items are small.
- Label bins so it is clear what is inside. For children, use pictures to help label bins.
- Put things in a bin with a lid if the item will be used at least once a week. You will get frustrated with opening and closing the lid over and over again.
- Stack items. If you have the space, try to give everything its own place on the shelf.
- Totes have a photo of contents and are stackable for frequently used toys.
- Drawers have a photo of contents and easily glide for frequent used toys.
- Totes have a photo of contents and are stackable with lids for multi-piece items.
If you are willing to give, someone will be there to receive. There are many charity organizations that are willing to accept your donations.
- Dress for Success
- Salvation Army
- Treasures From the Heart
- Lupus Foundation
- Toys for Tots
- Courage Center (Stillwater)
- Second Chances, a non-profit thrift store benefiting Turning Point
Repurpose and Recycle
You may not be ready to let go of some of your treasures; try repurposing instead.
- Your favorite running shoes can be used for mowing the lawn.
- Your favorite college sweatshirt can be torn into rags.
- Give a stack of magazines to your child’s classroom for art projects.
- Send old sheets out to the garage to use as painting drop clothes.
- Use mismatched tea cups or coffee mugs as containers for garden seeds and plantings.
- Broken toys can provide endless amusement! Use lost arms and broken legs to create play dough creatures. Try driving three-wheeled cars or gap-toothed combs through sand or paint. Stray puzzle and game pieces can be repurposed.
If you receive a gift that isn’t right for you, but you know someone who would enjoy it, consider re-gifting. But before you hand it over, ask yourself the following questions (from Regiftable.com):
- Is the gift regiftable? Never regift handmade or one-of-a-kind items. Signed books and monogrammed items are off-limits. Do you have to be told not to regift free promotional items?
- Some gifts that are good candidates for regifting include good (unopened!) bottles of wine, new household items and inexpensive jewelry.
- How is the condition? Only new, unopened gifts in good condition should be considered for regifting. Never give partially used gift cards. Don’t give items that you have owned for a long time. A general rule of thumb: if you have to dust it off, it is not regiftable.
- Is this going to work? Successful regifters use common sense. If you are going to regift, be sure you know who gave you the item, so you don’t return something to the original giver. Only regift items to people who are not likely to see the original giver.
- Do you have good intentions? Don’t just give a gift to give a gift. Be sure that the recipient will appreciate the item. Remember, if you feel that an item is undesirable, the recipient probably will too. If you are regifting simply because you ran out of time, gift cards are simple to obtain and always well received.
- How does it look? When it comes to gift-giving, go for show! While gift bags in good condition can be reused, wrapping paper is a one-time thing. Always spring for a new card or gift tag.
- Can you handle it? If you don’t plan to announce the gift as a regift, ask yourself if you can keep the secret. Never feel guilty about re-gifting once you’ve done it.
What are some organizing tricks that work for you? Leave a comment and let us know!