Pre-Holiday Toy Purging

Isn’t this such an exciting time of year? I feel like such a kid. Only, I really don’t care if I get a single gift, it’s the excitement of my kids that’s got me giddy! So what is it that they are all hyped-up about? Well… all of the new toys of course! But wait a second… why am I excited again? My house is already bursting with an army of one thousand little things that I don’t have space for. After the holidays, the numbers of their (home wrecking) force will likely double to two thousand.

Now is the time for me to go to work on eliminating a portion of this league of McDonald’s toys, play-dough encrusted matchbox cars, and acorns. I’ve been doing this every December for a few years now and it has been a great way to make much-needed space! We have many different areas in the house that need to be purged before the holidays. Below is a before shot of the shelves in our play room. It’s not as bad as it could be, but there is definitely not space for a ton more, especially considering there are already some homeless toys not shown here.

Before toy Purge

Start by Gathering a Few Supplies

  • Give away box
  • Store box
  • Trash bag
  • Re-locate basket
  • A Timer

Purge Supplies

The Purge

Now for the fun! You can do this with or without your kids. My kids are 2 and 4 years old and my preference is to complete this process without them. It’s just easier that way. But if you’re the super mom that I’m not and want to help your kids learn about organizing and giving, by all means, include them!

Here are my criteria for sorting:

  • Trash – Anything that is actually trash, or broken, or just really cheap junk.
  • Give – Anything in good shape that they have outgrown, don’t use often, or have a duplicate of.
  • Store – These are usually things that I think they will ask me about some day. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?!
  • Re-locate – This is a temporary basket for anything that needs to go to another room.

Okay! Pick one small space, set a timer, and work quickly! Then move on to another space. I like a timer of 15 min but with kids involved, you might want to set the timer for 15 hours.


What to do with the GIVE pile?

When you have a meaningful reason to give away your toys, it makes the process much easier and more rewarding. As crazy as it may sound, your kids probably have some emotional attachment to every single one of their things. Dealing with the challenge of making tough choices will come more easily when you know you are making someone else very happy. Here are some places to consider giving your gently loved toys:

  • A family in need
  • Relatives with kids, or the grandparents
  • Your school, or even better a school in need
  • Do you know a teacher who could use little things to reward their students?
  • Or you can donate to Goodwill, the humane society, or another thrift store. (Don’t forget to grab a tax receipt!)
Toy Purge Complete!
Playroom Toy Purge Complete!

 Need Bonus Points? – Organize!

I love to put as many of our toys as will fit into small containers with lids. I try to keep toys sorted by type to avoid needless dumping of every single box (at least in theory) to find one little thing. I like plastic shoe boxes for many of our toys. The dollar store has containers like this but you can find better quality options for about the same price at Target and Walmart.

If you want to enable your kids to do a great job of cleaning up (again, in theory), add labels to your containers with photos of the contents. I like to take photos of a few of the toys in each container, add text, then print them out and tape them on! (It’s OCD. I know. I still love it.)

Labeled Bins1

My Before and After

At a glance, it may not look like I made much room, but I actually did. All of the Little People stuff was previously homeless!  And my small “catch-all” bin is basically empty and ready for all of the new junk that they will play with for a fraction of a day.

Before and After Toy Purge

Please tell me I’m not the only one who struggles with crazy amounts of toys?  How does your family handle toy purging? Do you make a point of getting your kids involved?

Megan Johns
Megan grew up in rural central Florida building forts and feeding cows with her 3 younger sisters. Her youth led Megan to believe in the amazing power of female ingenuity and to put a high value on positive and supportive interaction among ladies and girls. As a graduate of the University of Florida Mechanical Engineering program, Megan moved to Jacksonville to pursue a career with a bio-medical device company and to begin a wonderful life with her amazing husband Patrick. During her years working as an engineer, Megan developed an interest in photography. When she put her career on hold to take on the hardest job a person could love (Mommy to Evan 5 and Lilla 3), she discovered her love of "life" style photography as seen at Megan Johns Photography. Megan carries her camera everywhere and sometimes refers to it as her "third child!"


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