Organizing Your Way to a Simple Christmas: Children’s Toys

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source: HarlanHsource: HarlanH

Today is day ten in our two-week Christmas series: Organizing Your Way to a Simple Christmas.

One of the hardest parts of Christmas for me is dealing with the aftermath. Not just taking down decorations but finding a place for all of the new stuff, most notably all of the new toys my girls get.

Last year, they received over 75 presents. Yes, 75. It was ridiculous in the truest sense of the word, and while I know that each person who gave them a gift did so out of love, with 9 sets of grandparents and great-grandparents, it was just too much. As hard as it is, we’ve had to set limits on the number of gifts people give them. You know you’ve reached the point of ridiculousness when you have to plead with your children to finish opening their presents, and that’s exactly what happened. With an additional child this year, we needed to get control of the problem sooner rather than later.

However, just setting limits is not enough. We still need to make room for all of the toys and presents they will receive. Rather than waiting until they’ve opened the new presents and doing it while we’re trying to get our house back in order and recover from all the merry-making, my plan is to declutter the toy room ahead of time.

We try to follow the “one toy in, one toy out” rule, and I always give preference to toy sets rather than individual little knick knacks. I could easily turn into a scrooge about the whole thing — as my husband often reminds me — so we let them each keep a small box of special toys for themselves as well. These boxes are often filled with McDonald’s toys and other random items, the type of thing I purge from the main toy room.

Purging the Toy Room

So where do you begin when it’s time to purge? Here are five steps to help you get started:

:: Throw away any broken toys or sets and games with a significant number of missing pieces.

:: Give away toys that your children have outgrown.

:: Limit the number of items in any given set to what can fit in a single container. The size of the container will vary depending on the item (stuffed animals versus matchbox cars, for example), but pick a container that seems reasonable and then let it be your guide.

:: Have your child choose 3 toys to give away to someone in need. I’m a huge proponent of involving them in this process, both so they can learn charity and so they can practice organizing and decluttering from a young age.

:: Choose toys that inspire the imagination, such as wooden building blocks or dress-up clothes, over more limiting toys, such as a jack-in-the-box.

Making Gift Lists

To proactively deal with toy clutter, try making gift lists ahead of time for each of your children so that when someone asks you for an idea, you’re ready with ideas that you can feel good about.

Another option to consider is non-toy gifts, such as college savings or extracurricular activities. Megan from Sorta Crunchy and Simple Kids shared 10 Clutter-Free Gift Ideas for Kids at Simple Mom yesterday, and there are some great options for grandparents on the list.

They key, if you haven’t already guessed, is to make a plan ahead of time for how you want to handle gifts so that you don’t wake up on Christmas morning to 75 presents under the tree!

Today’s task: Begin making a list of gift ideas for each of your children using the Christmas Gift Ideas Printable. Mark a date on your calendar to declutter the toy room.

How do you deal with toy clutter? Do you have a plan for cleaning out your toy room before or after the holidays?

About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5, 3.5, 2 and a new baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

10 Responses to “ Organizing Your Way to a Simple Christmas: Children’s Toys ”

  1. LOVE THIS, Mandy!! We are totally on the same page right now. In fact, I was just getting ready to write up something along these lines at SK – this is the time of year for a major purge!

    And 75 presents. YIKES!!! :D
    Megan at Simple Kids´s last blog ..What We’re Reading Wednesday: It’s Halloween (and more!) My ComLuv Profile


  2. I stumbled onto this site and am thrilled to my fingertips!

    I have 4 kids. Organization is a passion, but I’m horrible at it. :)

    AND, I. LOVE. CHRISTMAS! My own blog has a Christmas Quote of the day from one of my favorite movies….I start celebrating the holidays on the day The Great State Fair of Texas opens….which was Sept. 25 this year! I always have a countdown on my blog because Christmas is ALWAYS COMING!

    Anyway, I would be very interested to be entered for the Once A Month Cooking give-away!

    Thanks….and I will be back!
    ~LL~´s last blog ..CHRISTMAS QUOTE OF THE DAY My ComLuv Profile


    Mandi Ehman Reply:

    Thanks for stopping by, LL — I love “meeting” people who love Christmas as much as I do!


  3. One way that we deal with all the Christmas toys is not let our children open all of them. Because we have a very large extended family who bless our children at Christmas, inevitably our boys receive way too many gifts. What I’ll do is not put all the gifts under the tree and then later (at their birthdays Jan/Feb/July) I’ll bring out some of the extra Christmas gifts. This works now with them being little and I help with Thank you note writing – but I’m wondering how it may work itself out now that they’re old enough to write their own notes.


    Mandi Ehman Reply:

    I like this idea in principle, but we almost always end up opening most of the presents in the presence of the giver, so it’s not very easy to pull off. They also ask our girls about the gifts if they’re not around at opening, so I’m not sure it would work in practice.


  4. I am such a grinch when it comes to the ammount of toys my kids keep. When they want a new toy I always ask, “Do you really want it? Why and what do you think you can get out of it?” If they give a reasonable answer, then it goes on the list. It pains me to throw away or sell a toy for almost nothing at a yard sale, when it cost someone a pretty penny or two.

    With that said, throughout the year my kids just bring me the toy they no longer desire and together we decide…goodwill, yard sale or garbage. This makes the purging part of Christmas easier for me. Now for the rest of the Christmas season…well, that’s why I’m following this blog.
    Jackie at Lilolu´s last blog ..Free Rice My ComLuv Profile


  5. My brother is 10 years younger than me and when he was little I was often the one that was helping with the clutter! I decided that instead of getting him some*thing* that would just add to the clutter, I would give him an experience or an item that could be “used up”. Some years I would give him a gift certificate to go to Burger King (a HUGE TREAT at our house) or stickers, crafts, bubbles, or something else that would be gone after it was used up. The fun would be remembered, but there wouldn’t be much *clutter* left afterward.


    Mandi Ehman Reply:

    I love this idea, Catherine! We’ve actually set limits by asking each person to only give one present per child and then offered consumable items (and books, because I don’t think you can have too many of those!) as options if they really, really want to get a second one!


  6. Did you happen to see pictures of my child’s room previous to writing this?

    It was a good post and got me thinking!
    Coco´s last blog ..A little Secret My ComLuv Profile


  7. Can i sign up for christmas toy please.


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