Corral the Christmas Clutter

Organizing new toys and setting your space up for success.

Skip the panic and check out these tips for organizing new toys.

The hustle and bustle of Christmas has, once again, passed us by. Gift buying, wrapping, and opening is complete and (if you’re anything like us) you may be left feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of new items your children received.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love giving my children gifts and watching the pure joy they have in receiving them.

Yet, accumulating so many new items sometimes puts me into a bit of a panic the day after Christmas. I’m constantly wondering how I’ll corral the clutter. I look for ways to merge the new items in with the old, find what we’ll need to part with, and make a plan for duplicate items.

Three Types of New Gifts

If you’re beginning to get worried about the amount of new gifts your children received and how to merge them with your existing gifts, you’ll want a game plan.

Start by taking a careful look at what your children received. You’ll likely find three categories of new items:
1. Extensions of Toys Kids Already Have
2. New Items for Older Children
3. Replacement/Duplicate Gifts

Based on these three types of gifts, you’ll want to corral the clutter in different ways.

Category #1 - Toy Extensions

In some ways, this category is the least stressful when it comes to merging your new items.

Start by taking a comprehensive look at what your kids have received. Some items will fit nicely into categories already in your playspace. For example, extra play kitchen food, dress up clothes, or building blocks can easily join a basket of like items.

Growing categories of toys only means that you need to sort new objects and place them in their correct location. As you put new items away, do a quick sort through old components and discard anything that’s become broken or unusable. Once your sorting is complete, this part of the task is also done.

Category #2 - Toys for Older Children

As your kids grow, the holidays become a perfect time to give them older-kid versions of items they enjoy.

Organizing these new, bigger kid toys may present you with a challenge though. Finding balance between the old toys your children have loved and the new, more age-appropriate toys they’ve received can be tricky.

Try asking yourself the following:
Are my children still actively playing with their old toys?
Are there younger children who may want to play with those toys in the future?
Do I have room to keep toys for multiple age levels accessible?

These questions will help you to focus your priorities. If your child has outgrown his old toys and you aren’t planning to save them for younger siblings, now is a good time to donate or gift baby toys to another family.

If you’re planning to keep younger toys for other children but don’t have room to store them, consider putting your favorite few in bins (labeled by age) so they’re away, but easily accessible for the future. Donate or trash any toys that are rarely used or broken.

Many toys for older kids have small pieces that aren’t safe for younger ones. If you have multiple children, make sure these small toys are stored where younger ones can’t access them.

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Category #3 - Duplicate Toys

Receiving duplicates of a toy can be tricky to navigate. While your child may want several copies of a certain book or toy, you might feel differently. So, how much is too much?

In general, only plan to keep duplicates for the following reasons:
● Your original copy of the toy or book is beginning to fall apart.
● This item is a lovey or sleep aid, where having a backup would be beneficial.
● You would like multiples of this item accessible in various locations (i.e. at home and in the car).

If the new toy/book doesn’t fit these scenarios, consider finding it a new home. Perhaps another family would enjoy having this or it’s in good enough shape to consider donating.

Goodbye Gifting Guilt

Receiving gifts sometimes comes wrapped with a ribbon of guilt. While the gifter doesn’t usually intend to give more than a present, it’s sometimes expected that the gift will become your child’s new favorite and will be a treasured item in your home.

Unfortunately, you’ve likely encountered a gift that your child is uninterested in or that you just can’t tolerate (such as a loud toy).

In these scenarios, it’s okay to let go of the guilt. Thank the gifter and give the gift a good try. See if your child plays with it or if you’re able to tolerate it better. If it’s not a good fit for your family, graciously let go of it.

Corralling the clutter is a balancing act. With a bit of sorting and a careful eye for treasured toys, you’ll be ready to make a play space work for your family.

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.

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