How to Handle Post-Holiday Toy Overload

The holidays are filled with celebration, food, family…and toys. So. Many. Toys. If dolls, Legos, art supplies, and games have taken over your house, fear not—it can be reclaimed!

As a mom of two girls and someone who organizes other people’s homes for a living, I have seen lots of playrooms, bedrooms, and living rooms that are overrun with toys. And I’ve noticed that having too many choices seems to overwhelm kids. It’s more fun to play when there’s space to spread out. And you’d probably enjoying sitting down in your living room without seeing toys strewn about. So how do you unclutter the toys?  

Remove toys your kids have outgrown

If they’ve aged past it, it’s time to go. If it’s an absolute treasure worth saving for future grandkids, pack well and move to the attic. Anything else can be passed on to friends or family with younger kids, the library or doctor’s office, or donated to charity. 

Look for toys with broken pieces
and missing parts

Game or puzzle missing multiple pieces? Headless Barbie doll? Car with three wheels? Say goodbye. When you have a surplus of toys, broken ones are unlikely to be played with.

Look for things that never get used

If it never leaves the shelf, it probably won’t be missed.

Involve them in the process—or don’t

If your kids are old enough and receptive, ask them to choose things to donate. Knowing their rarely used toys will make another kid happy can be really motivating. Or maybe your kids don’t want to part with anything, played with or not…it’s very common! If that’s your situation, declutter when they’re not home, or sleeping, to make it less of a battle.

Rotate toys

This works best for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Instead of all toys out all the time, split them in half and after a couple weeks swap them out. It’s almost like getting new toys, but your house stays uncluttered.

Create a temporary home if you’re unsure about getting rid of something

If you’re worried your kids might miss something you declutter, move it out of sight. If they ask, get it out—but if they don’t mention the toy in the time frame you determine (1 month, 3 months, etc.), pass it on. 

Think of crafts as an experience and not something that must be saved for eternity

Craft kits are great…until there’s a year’s worth of slime, jewelry, and painted rocks in your living room. The fun is in making the craft—they’re not all keepers. Ask your kids to choose a few favorites to keep…or smuggle things out under the cover of darkness once they’re asleep. You can always take a picture of it first.

Make it easy for kids to clean up—and know where things belong

Think about classrooms and day cares. Every single toy, game, art supply, etc. has a home, and when kids finish using it, that’s where it goes. The shelves, bins, etc. are labeled so everyone knows where things belong. Kids play with one thing, then clean it up before switching activities so the mess doesn’t get too big. You can use these strategies at home—I use them when I organize toys. Though I’ll admit the “clean up as you go” part is MUCH harder to implement at home… Sort the toys (i.e. Barbie dolls, baby dolls, Legos, Magna-Tiles) and designate a container for each category. Label it—if your kids aren’t reading yet, use pictures. Sturdy plastic bins can be cleaned, labeled, and easily carried around. Woven baskets are a great way to camouflage toys kept in the living room. Tossing toys into a bin is an easy way to clean up. It’s the rare kid who will color-code their Legos at clean-up time—keep it simple and you’re more likely to get them on board.

So there you have it! Declutter those toys and enjoy easier clean up and a neater house. ″

Laura Weiler is a home organizer and founder of An Organized Start