How to Thin Out the Stuffed Animal Collection

Stuffed elephant, stuffed giraffe, stuffed rabbit, stuffed wombat, stuffed parrot, giant stuffed dog you couldn't help but buy. Every parent faces it: somewhere in the corner of your child's room there is an ever-growing gang of stuffed stuff. It's like an episode of Survivor where instead of anyone leaving, more people arrive. How do you work out who to vote off the island?It's "outboxing" time at Apartment Therapy: as part of the January Cure we are encouraged to make a box of items that at least might go out of the house (and probably will). Take the opportunity to finally tame the collection of those seemingly-untameable plush toys. Use these 5 criteria to decide what stays, and what goes in the outbox (and possibly out the door):

1. Anything that never gets played with. Obvious outbox fodder.

2. Anything with no/little sentimental value. It might be hard to part with a stuffed animal given to your son or daughter from your favorite aunt, but any that you can't remember where they came from can be put in the outbox guilt-free.

3. Anything that was yours as a child but is unappreciated by your child. I have a few of these - toys that I was eager to pass on to my daughter when she was born but are too lumpy and old to grab her attention at only 12 months old. These won't go to the outbox, but could be put away for when she's older.

4. Where there are many of one type, try to keep just one. My son loves dogs, and his habit of attracting stray plush puppies is something that would put even the most active dog shelter in the world to shame. We have managed to get it down to one big "daddy" dog, one small "lil kid" dog, and one tiny "baby" puppy, which still leaves plenty of room for imaginative play.

5. Where there are many from one person, try to keep just one. It might seem hard to do, but that one special toy from that special person will seem so much more special when apart from the five others. If getting it down to one is too hard, try just the latest toy from that person, as well as one all-time favorite.

Personally, I do this job alone. The good thing about the outbox is that it serves as a midway point: leave the toys out of sight for a week and see what happens. Mr. Lobbo can always be rescued if there's a surprise "where's my stuffed lobster?" meltdown at bedtime.

So, who is going to be voted into the outbox this week? And who gets to stay?

(Image: Alison Gerber)

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