← Go back De-Cluttering the Toys before Christmas
Published on Monday, November 13, 2017 by

When I was a child growing up in the 80’s, there were only select few options for toy stores. We had good old big box retailers, a few department stores with their toy selections stacked high on display among the holiday decor, and a few boutique stores that sold specialty items that you couldn’t get elsewhere. When we got to partake in the glory of opening presents on Christmas Day, we would relish in the novelty, the quality and the wonder of the few items that we received. These items were usually of wonderful value, and often coveted or rare – such as Cabbage Patch Kids and Teddy Ruxpin – and we treasured them as new additions to our modest, quality toy collections.

Fast-forward to the present day, and on every corner, there is a dollar store. To me, the endless options of poor-quality, mass and questionably produced, cheap in price and in structure toys and products that are available are only encouraging us to buy MORE and MORE, simply because the items are cheaper and more available. And moreover, because we are marketed by a world that tells us we need to keep consuming what they’re selling to be happy in life.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not a total cynic, and I love shopping and all the variety available today. I love the new novelties every year, and the fun hours spent circling the items we want in the toy catalogue with my daughter. But how in the world can we tone it down so that the real meaning of the holiday shines above the consumerism?

So last year, I decided that I was just not buying it any more – literally and figuratively. I was tired of the fact that my living room floor looked like a minefield of mini Hatchimals, Shopkins and Playmobil parts. I couldn’t, and still can’t, handle the clutter. There’s so much of it to deal with that it just simply doesn’t get dealt with. So we did a purge, and this is how we did it. And we’re going to do it again this year. I invite you to join me – I think you’ll be glad you did!

Get in Stealth Mode
This is when I started searching for junky, broken toys that were hiding under chests of drawers and in the bottom of tickle trunks. You know the suspects – those Barbie’s missing arms, that random doll shoe or that misshapen baseball. And I tossed them – without involving anyone but myself. The key to success here is to ensure that the items are disposed of in a secure place, or else your child will inevitably find that legless Barbie and declare that “it’s my favourite one Mommy!! You can’t throw it out!!” and then you’re back to square one. Hence, the stealth mode.

Donation Mode
This is where the life learning lesson comes in. I enlist my two girls in this mode to help me choose some gently used toys and clothes to donate to a thrift store during the holiday season. We usually take the items to a women’s shelter so that we know that they’ll be properly used and not re-sold.

Buy and Sell Mode
This is where I try to teach my girls the value of a dollar. They select a few more valuable key items – such as gently used Groovy Girls or Disney Stuffie – and we sell them either on a swap site or at Toy Traders. They then take the money that they’ve made and save a portion of it, spend a portion of it, and donate a portion of it to the food bank or the SPCA. We also try to make it a tradition every year to visit the food bank around the holiday season.

Rotation Mode
This is likely the most genius of all the modes, and can really have an impact on the boredom factor in your child’s life, as well as the need to buy more and more every Christmas. What I do is I keep certain big-ticket items, such as train tables and sets, Lego sets and dollhouses with specific dolls put away for half the year. Once in a while, I will pull out this toy that has been hiding for six months, and VIOLA! New toys! It’s amazing how quickly kids forget that they had that train set or doll house, and the novelty of having it reappear is just like having a new toy! I highly recommend getting yourself organized and doing this. I keep my stuff labeled in big Rubbermaid totes for easy access.

Quality Present Mode
Finally, when it comes to Christmas shopping, it is absolutely fine to tell family and friends that your kids don’t need much this year – and if they insist on buying, suggest quality items that can contribute to a larger set. For example, instead of the 20 dollars that is spent at the dollar store on 10 pieces of various cheap plastic toys, how about 20 dollars on a collectable wooden train to add to a set? Or a desired piece of the dollhouse furniture that they were hoping to include in their selection. Moreover, many thrift, and second-hand stores out there are offering excellent quality, nearly new toys that can be recycled down to the next child. It’s good for the environment and it’s new to them!

By considering these ideas for decluttering this Christmas, you cannot only create some lovely traditions for your family, but also really feel good about the real spirit of Christmas. And that is what it’s all about, right?

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