Toy organising – how to get ahead of the game before Christmas

Do you despair when you look at the sheer volume of toys and games in your children’s bedrooms? And wonder where on earth the inevitable deluge of Christmas presents are going to fit?

Professional declutterer Helen Cousins shares her advice for organising your children’s toys now, so you’re ahead of the game for Christmas.

How to organise your children’s toys

Now that the autumn half term, Halloween and bonfire night are behind us, our thoughts are beginning to turn to Christmas.

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And, while most children will be excited at the thought of Santa squeezing down their chimney laden with toys, many parents will be groaning internally as they sense their home beginning to bulge at the seams.

More toys mean more mess, more cluttered cupboards and more chances of stepping on those painful pieces of Lego with bare feet as you wend you way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

In our household, we have recently celebrated our son’s birthday, and even a modest party seems to have created a huge number of new toys – all of which need to be found homes, and has resulted in a massive toy radicalisation.

We only have one child and very small extended family. But for those with several children, aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents, the forthcoming festivities really can swamp the house with (sometimes unwanted) clutter.

So, if you’d like to gain some control over the toys in your home, check out these tips ahead of the Christmas onslaught.

Firstly – reduce the amount of toys!

The more toys you have to organise in a limited space, the harder the job will be. So first things first, let’s try to reduce the number of them. Here are three tips to help you do this.

1) Purge

Have a purge before the big day to create space for the inevitable new toys. It’s best to get the children involved in this. The toys belong to them, so you really do need their consent if you wish to live in a peaceful and content household. Ask them to select some toys that they no longer play with that can be passed onto other children.

Take the children with you to make a donation at the charity shop too; that way they can feel good about the money that will be raised. Plus they’ll get warm and fuzzy feelings about the joy their old toys will bring other children.

If you do this now, there will be plenty of time for the shop to sell your donations before Christmas.

2) Prevent

Make an agreement with friends and relatives about gifts well ahead of the big day. If you usually buy for every child in the family and as a result get something back from everyone in the family, you could be creating huge amounts of shopping, wrapping and clutter for yourself.

Seek out others in the family who would be happy to have less at Christmas and make an agreement with them to reduce or stop the number of gits you exchange. There are bound to be others who don’t want more stuff in their homes.

3) Hold back

Finally hold some gifts back if you can. Admittedly this is far easier with younger children. But if you spot items that are designed for children slightly older than yours (to be grown into) then now is a great time to squirrel these away.

This is particularly useful if (like us) your child’s birthday and Christmas are close together. You can “reveal” these new toys in the summer, freshening up the toy selection and giving your child fresh challenges as they develop and need more complex toys.

Then organise what’s left

Once you’ve reduced the number of toys, here are six tips to help you organise them.

1) Categorise

Categorising toys and storing similar items together makes it so much easier to find things and tidy up at the end of the day. As everyone knows where everything goes, even the children will be able to find and tidy up. For example:

  • Arts and crafts – paints, playdough, pens.
  • Jigsaws and games.
  • Dressing up and role play.
  • Small world – animals, people.
  • Building – Lego, construction.

2) Use low storage

Ensure storage is low enough for children to reach and the boxes are light enough for them to carry.

3) Tackle Lego

The dreaded Lego storage debate goes on and on in the organising world. There are some incredible systems, but to keep it simple store Lego bricks by size. This makes it much easier to find what you are looking for. Keep the instructions in a box near to the Lego too.

4) Display artwork

Display artwork on playroom or bedroom walls by using string and laundry pegs. (It’s really easy to reorganise and edit regularly when you use pegs.)

5) Give everything a home

Give everything a home and be consistent. This way your children will be more likely to help tidy up because they know where things live.

6) Swap toys around

There’s nothing like moving toys around to make your children rediscover some old favourites. They may have been sitting in plain view and ignored for the last 12 months, but as soon as you give it a new home, something magical seems to happen.

Suddenly that old Playmobil police car is the most important toy in the house. So, swap toy locations around regularly so that your children rediscover old favourites.

Good luck!

Good luck surviving the crazy gift season. Hopefully these tips will help you to spend less of your precious time looking after things and more time hanging out with your beautiful family. After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about?

Helen Cousins is a professional home organiser and declutter consultant. Based in Winchester, Hampshire, Helen helps people who feel that the sheer amount of stuff in their homes, gets in the way of how they want to live their lives.

Helen is a member of the Association of Professional Declutteres and Organisers (APDO) and abides by their code of ethics. She is fully insured and registered with the ICO under the data protection act.

Photo by Markus Spiske