The holidays are fast approaching, and that means celebrating—usually with food, cards, and, of course, gifts. Ah, there are always so many gifts, especially for the kids! They are a fun part of the holiday season, but can be overwhelming in excess. So, before you start worrying about what your children want this holiday season, consider what they can get rid of first.

1. Purge: Think about the plethora of toys about to flow into your household in the next few weeks. Now take a quick inventory of the figurines, puzzle pieces, and video games that already live there. The first step to organizing this time of year is to sort what you have and purge your kids’ toys before the holidays to create space for what’s about to come. This can be done in one of two ways:

            a. With your child: If your child is at an appropriate age and able to let go of some toys, corral all of them so your child can see them all together. If there is resistance to this process, try discussing the benefits of donating their toys and giving them to someone less fortunate.

            b. Without your child: If your child is under the age of 3 or 4 and unable to determine which toys they’ve grown out of or no longer use, we give you permission to donate them without their consent. If you find yourself having trouble parting ways, try taking a photo of the toys for a long-lasting memory.

2. Start with the low-hanging fruit: We advise this in all areas of the household, and it applies just as much with kids. When you’re dealing with toys, first consider the cheap-o party bags or dentist gifts that were given for a successful visit. Save the best (and most valuable) for last.

3. Quick quarantine: One of my clients came up with the genius idea of putting some of her kids toys in “quarantine,” which is really a spot in her basement never seen by her children. These toys are often the ones that have been forgotten about or that they’ve grown out of, but still may be slightly attached to. Keep the toys in this pile for a week or two, and if nobody asks about them, it’s time for them to retire. Chances are, once the toy is out of sight, it’s out of mind too.

4. Experiences over objects: This is a great way to create more space in your home as well as memories for your children. For example, movie or theme park tickets, sporting events, and manicures are fun alternatives to toys or games. Kids may forget about another toy they received, but they’re less likely to forget about an experience. Remember, it’s quality over quantity. You can also suggest this idea to friends and family members looking for gift ideas.

5. Have systems in place: Beat the chaos by creating efficient systems for toy storage so that when new ones arrive they can easily be sorted into those categories. Also make sure to include labels on the bins or shelves so they can be returned without hesitation. If your youngster is too little to read, include pictures of the toy with the labels so they can still identify where it belongs.

Having trouble figuring out where to bring your unwanted items? Check these resources:

Cradles to Crayons

Toys for Tots

Goodwill

Homeless Shelter Directory

And voila! I promise you’ll thank me later if this process begins before the holidays arrive. There’s nothing like having more clutter in a space that’s already going to be torn apart for the holidays. And keep in mind that you’re making someone else’s holidays just as special with the gift of giving.

Written by Mia Salmo

Mia Salmo

Professional Organizer