What do I do with all of these toys??? Ideas for reinventing or reducing clutter

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It’s the season when kids get some new things for the holidays and you look around your home and feel compelled to sweep through and purge!  Maybe the kids don’t play with those mega blocks anymore or they have grown out of their Thomas the Train phase.  

1)  If it’s not about needing more room, but upgrading to items for a new age group, you can host an exchange playdate or moms night in!  If you have a group of friends with kids of all ages, invite them over for an exchange.  If you have 5 mom-friends coming, write out 25 tickets each with a number from 1 to 25.  Tell each friend to bring 5 toys that are in good condition, that their kids have grown out of or no longer play with, that they definitely want to get rid of.  You can assign a dollar value limit to the toys if you choose.  Each person randomly picks 5 tickets when they arrive and you set all of the toys out on a table.  Sometime during the playdate or moms night in, go around and take turns in numerical order and each person chooses a toy.  Part of the “game” is that they may or may not get what they want, like a white elephant exhange, but if people end up with things they don’t want, they can donate them like they would have done anyway with the toys they were trying to get rid of (ideas in #3)!

2) Consign the toys.  There are consignment sales every fall and winter that allow you to sign up, tag and sell your items. Some of them pay as much at 70% commission.  Talk with your neighbors or friends about sales that they have sold with and compare what was the easiest for tagging, dropping off and getting paid.   There are huge for-profit sales that everyone shops that help you purge a ton of stuff but there are also smaller church-run sales that are pretty popular that help fund raise for the church or group.  Also, there are many stores at which you can consign.  I sell items at Kaeli’s Kloset in Crestwood (6348 W Highway 146), for example.  There is no charge to become a consignor, you get a number to tag your items, it’s easy to drop things off and I accumulate a credit that I use for shopping!  Find one of these in your area of Louisville and inquire about becoming a consignor and you can purge items all year long!

3)  Donate to a pre-school or church.  The first thing people think of it heading to Good Will to donate items and that is wonderful. But, sometimes I like to donate to smaller groups that are in need of items like a pre-school or church that is service at-risk children.  Or, you can contact Home of the Innocents or Family and Children’s Place and see if they would like toy donations for the children that they serve.  These places rely on donations and you would know that your items are directly helping local children.

4)  Organize and store them.  For certain toys that I just really want to keep, I store separate boxes, medium in size, in my basement for different age categories.  I have an infant to 12 months box and a 12-18 months box.  My daughter is 3, so soon I may create a new box for just one more age stage up.  I put away toys that mean something to us or ones that were favorites that I want to hold on for when little ones come over or to just plain keep because I like them.  I am picky and have to keep within one box!  If I don’t keep it, I find another way to get rid of it.  But, separating them by age group helps to find them when I need them and forces me to stay within one box for each.  On rainy days, you can also break out a box and play with the new things for the day and pack them back up!

5)  Get crafty and re-purpose the items.  Maybe you have some baby rattles or soft toys that would make a really cute mobile for a new friend’s baby or smaller toys that you can make a memory box with.  You can attach magnets to chunky puzzles, make a strong magnetized fishing pole out of something else and create a fishing game out of baby puzzles!  You just never know.  Take a look at these items, then ponder for a bit what your children like to do now and see how you can reinvent them!  It could be as simple as using baby items to play: “Will it float?”  We love to fill the tub and bring a bucket of items into the bathroom and one by one place an item in the tub and before doing so we guess, will it float?  (Thanks David Letterman for this idea!)

Reduce, reuse, re-purpose………there’s many options!
Stephanie

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