by Lora Green, Contributing Writer
Why does the New Year motivate us to organize our homes? There is the obvious reason — a fresh new beginning that comes with the start of every year. However, that isn't the only reason we get the urge to organize our homes in January.
First, taking down Christmas decorations simplifies the house. While the beauty of Christmas is magical, there is a natural feeling of simplification that occurs once the decorations are stowed away. Second, we have just celebrated the biggest gift-giving event of the year which means more stuff. Especially if you have kids.
Before I share any organization tips, I want to encourage you to sort and purge. A perfectly organized home will eventually be disorganized if that important step is skipped. If the kids are old enough, hand them each a box and ask them to find 10 toys (or whatever amount you feel beneficial) to give away. If you've got younger children, sort through toys with the kids. I like to do this just before Christmas or right after, aiming to give away approximately the number of toys that are received.
Now let's get those toys organized! My family has toys in every room of our home (well, except the kitchen and bathrooms), but you can't see them. No, they aren't invisible, but I do get creative when it comes to toy storage.
10 Simple Ways to Organize Toys
1: Store Toys in Family Areas
While we do have some toys in the kids' room, most of the toys are on the main level of our home. In general, it's best to keep toys where they are used. For example, store card and board games in a buffet if your family plays games at the Dining Room table.
2: Tuck Board Games and Puzzles under Furniture
Most furniture, such as Sofas and Dressers, have several inches of space underneath. Tuck large flat toys like Board Games or Wooden Puzzles under the furniture. It's out of sight yet within a child's reach.
3: Switch Games from the Box to Plastic Baggies
Some games are best stored in the original box, but other games can be stored in a more compact container. For example, if there is a big board (such as Monopoly) or large stacks of cards (such as Apples to Apples), keep it in the box. Otherwise, consider moving the game into a plastic baggie and toss it in a basket. Travel games and card games can go in the basket, too.
4: Use Big Baskets and Fabric Bins to hold Large Toys
Trucks, Balls, and other bulky toys fit well in an open-top basket or bin. Fabric bins are a great choice because the kids can easily pull the bin over and empty it. We have three of the blue and white bins sitting around our Living Room.
5: Fill an Old Trunk with Big Toy Sets
An old steamer trunk is a great option for storing big toy sets such as race tracks or baby dolls. We use our trunk as a coffee table in the living room, but it also holds all of my son's train and car tracks. The big trunk makes toy cleanup easy–and it serves a purpose when it's closed, too.
6: Store Lightweight Toys in an Ottoman
Dress-up clothes and stuffed animals are lightweight enough to be placed in a storage ottoman. The ottoman can still be moved around and used as a footstool or extra seating since the toys inside don't add much weight.
7: Vintage Suitcases are Attractive Toy Storage
Find vintage suitcases at flea markets to store toys inside. Vintage suitcases can fit under the bed but also look nice sitting out. Stack several to use as a side table when closed or set them atop an armoire.
8: Use Clear Bins for Collections of Small Items
Legos, doll accessories, and other tiny items are easy to find when stored in a clear bin. On Black Friday, I picked up three clear scrapbook cases to hold Legos and Tinker Toys. Plastic shoe boxes are another affordable choice for collections of small toys. Most of these bins are stackable, which means they will store easily on a shelf.
9: Don't Go Overboard with Labeling
I do like to label. However, there are times when labeling isn't beneficial. For example, if you can see the toys (clear containers or open-top bins), skip the label. Also, if the container is large and is general purpose (such as the big fabric bins), skip the label.
10: Keep Cleanup in Mind
Complicated systems don't work well with kids because it is too difficult for them to clean up. So when deciding what container to use, where to store the container, and how to label it (or not), don't forget about the kids. Make sure it's simple for them to pick up the toys when they are done, which will create good habits of play and organization.
If organizing all those new toys from Christmas is on your to-do list, keep this list of tips handy. Walk from room to room and get creative with toy storage. What do you already own that can be re-purposed as a container? What areas in the home aren't maximized for storage? Is the current toy organization working for your family?
What is your best tip to organize toys?
My name is Lora Green and I blog at Craftivity Designs, where I document how we are creating our home. I believe that a home is about much more than design and decor – it should tell the story of a family. Our home must fit the needs of two small kids, a work-at-home mom, and a youth pastor dad. I want it to be a beautiful space, but it should be functional and meaningful, too. If you are trying to meld function and beauty, join me over at Craftivity Designs to share in this journey of creating a home.