Our family had a great Christmas. Lots of family time, lots of smiles, and inevitably, lots of toys. Seriously, more toys than we know what to do with. This happens every year, so I expected it. It used to overwhelm me, but now I just embrace it and over the years I have changed how I handle the influx of toys each year.
We think of toys like clothing items. I learned this tip from another mom, and it has been the best way to handle the toy inventory for us.
Here’s How It Works
Think about how you handle new clothing items. When we receive or purchase new clothes, some special items are purchased for a specific event, and we plan to wear them right away. Others, we have no problem storing away for a later time.
Sometimes there are things we wish we could wear now, but they may not be the right size, so we pack them up to pull out at another time. Some items just don’t work for us no matter how much we want them to, so those get returned. Some things have missed their return window, or you’ve misplaced the receipt and ultimately get passed on to someone else or regifted.
Same Thing With Toys
This is our mindset with toys.
- Some toys were eagerly anticipated and were either assembled by us the night before or torn into on Christmas morning.
- Some gifts we received, I immediately knew would be great, but not at the moment. For example, my 4 year old loves playing with Legos, but he is not ready for the Lego sets yet and instead needs to freely build. Every time we have let him open one of the sets, I have ended up being the one building it, pieces are lost within minutes and there is no excitement to play with a “broken” toy. Lesson learned, and all Lego sets are packed away for play at a later stage.
- Some gifts we simply don’t want or need. I feel bad saying that, but it’s the truth. Sometimes we are gifted toys with characters they don’t know or like, and we are often gifted toys we already own or were gifted by someone else too.
- Hide them. I don’t know if this works for older kids, but for my kids (2 and 4), “out of sight, out of mind” holds true. They immediately open into the favorites and after that, they can barely remember most of the toys they received. My 2-year-old spent most of Christmas playing with a toy he’s had for a year. So, when I’m cleaning up, I take some of the toys and simply hide them away to reappear at a later time. I pull these toys out for rainy days when we are stuck inside. A “new” toy can reset a bored day or save for another holidays with less of a toy influx like birthdays or Easter basket additions.
Tips to Reduce the Toy Influx
- Talk to the gift givers. You know your loved ones and how receptive they will be to this. For us, I know that our family will give toys no matter what I say or ask. So, to prepare for this, I explicitly tell everyone what their current favorite interests or characters are, and if they are open to it, I will happily pick out a gift for them to give.
- Buy less toys. Because I know they will get bombarded with toys from family members, I hardly buy any. We buy the big gifts, personalized things, and experiences and let the other gifts fill our toy chests.
- Ask for toy-like things. Here’s my favorite trick, let loved ones buy “toy like” items that your kids actually need. I asked one loved one for character pajamas or shirts and they were just as excited to receive Spiderman and dinosaur pajamas as they would’ve been to receive a Spiderman or dinosaur toy (that we already have plenty of). The kids loved them, and I loved having more pajamas in the next size ready to go. Other fun suggestions: new cups, umbrellas, school supplies, socks, or accessories.
- Clear the clutter beforehand. New toys added to old toys are just so overwhelming. If you can, try to clear the oldies out before the holiday. It’s the perfect time to donate toys they have outgrown, toss broken things and reorganize your toy storage.