5 Tips for Cleaning Out the Toy Bin (and Making Room for More)

Whether you're ready or not, the holiday season is heading straight for us. Like everyone else we're (slowly) working on our gift list. But the flip side to all of this holiday giving is the holiday receiving. And that leads to the inevitable problem of where do we keep all of these items? Having gone through this cycle for a few years now, I've boiled it down to 5 tips on how to clean out and prepare for the all the holiday gifts coming your childrens' way.

1. Make piles. I make several piles: dump, donate/give to friends, keep, sell. Our biggest pile is always donate or give to friends. These piles consisted of things that I had doubles of as a result of gifts (including lots of books) or things that weren't age appropriate. Dump was reserved for broken items. Sell ended being an empty pile.

2. Be ruthless. The only way to truly clean is to be decisive and ruthless. Don't clean while the kids are around. I waited until the kids were asleep to make the assault on the toys. Having them around only means things will be plucked out of piles to save and general messiness.

3. Get rid of piles immediately. Once you make the piles, you need to deal with them. The donation and dump piles should be taken to their respective destinations. Then reorganize what you've got left and put everything away before stopping.

4. Use a labelmaker (or handwrite labels). I love my labelmaker and used it constantly while tackling this project. Part of it may have been a bit procrastination but it was rewarding to have everything so well organized and labeled at the end.

5. Rearrange, but do not buy more storage. To keep things interesting for the kids, move things around. I moved our big train table and drawers upstairs along with all trains and train related accessories. A table and chairs set have taken center stage. Wooden blocks have been moved to a different basket. The play kitchen is now in the dining room. Move things around as much as you like but don't buy more storage pieces. This way you can assess how much room you have. Once those gifts come piling in, you'll know exactly how many can stay. Either store or donate the others.

(Image: Janie Lee)

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