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How to Declutter Your Playroom and Kids’ Rooms Before Birthdays and Holidays

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Jamie, my dear friend from college, has two adorable boys who both have birthdays right smack in the middle of the holiday season. Here’s her dilemma:

“I need some help. The boys are going to get a ton of new toys for their birthdays and Christmas, and while our playroom can hold all of our stuff now, I know it’s going to be overflowing (and a mess!) come January. What should I do to prepare? And what kind of toy storage options would you recommend I buy, even though I am not sure exactly what size and type of presents they’ll receive?”

And here’s a glimpse of what her playroom looks like today:

Girl, I am right there with you. I, too, have two kids who have birthdays right around Christmas, which makes for a crazy and present-filled couple of months. Here are my recommendations for how to prepare for the influx of toys while still keeping your space organized, several of which I’ve implemented in my own home.

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Have your children select toys they no longer play with, and make it a point to donate them before the holidays. This is a twofer, you guys! Step #1 allows you to not only clean out your play areas to make space for new items, but it also teaches children about being compassionate and caring toward other people, especially those who are less fortunate. I realize this sounds like a no-brainer — “Well, of course we should donate some of our stuff we’re not using!” — but often times the to-dos and other commitments pile up and then activities like this get demoted on our list. So make this a priority before Santa visits your house this year.

Walk around your play areas with a trash bag when no one is looking, and toss any of the low-value items that your kids don’t use regularly. At first glance this may sound harsh, but I do this periodically and I have to admit: It brings me so much joy. (Is that weird? Don’t answer that.)This is your opportunity to toss all those low-value items that are taking up valuable real estate in your playroom, yet don’t meet an unspoken quality threshold to be donated. I’m talking about cheap-o tchotchkes from birthday parties like plastic yo-yos and bouncing balls, board games and puzzles that are missing pieces, the box of Crayolas in which half of the markers are dried out, and so on. I know that I don’t do this often enough, but when I do I am so pleased that I’ve taken the time to streamline the junk and make room for the quality items that my kids love and use regularly. I can also assure you that my kids have never noticed when a plastic harmonica purchased at Five Below has mysteriously gone missing.

By the way, if you want a FREE printable checklist with 39 things in the playroom that you can toss RIGHT NOW, then go snag it via this post!

Use your vertical wall space wisely. Most people have some solid storage solutions like baskets and short shelving units, but there’s potential to use vertical space to your advantage. One of my personal favorite pieces is the IKEA Kallax shelving unit, which is affordable, highly versatile, and durable. We have one in our playroom, which you can check out here. Don’t have room for a large shelving unit like the Kallax? No worries. There are plenty of great options available. Here are a few that I love:

Metal Wall-Mounted Organizer with Chalkboard Label, $17.99, Amazon

Use several of these to provide a home for coloring books, card games, books, boxes of crayons and markers, and more.

Keypad Storage Hanger
, $29, Land of Nod

I love the versatility of this. A great catch-all for everything from art supplies to action figures.

  1. Wood Magazine Rack with Baskets, $39.97, Amazon

    These baskets are large enough that they can hold a variety of items, and the espresso wood and natural cloth bins can coordinate with just about any decor.

    Take Five Wall Bin, $59, Land of Nod

    Stash anything and everything in this metal wall bin. Bonus: Kids will be able to see toys peeking out over the top of each bin, so they’ll know exactly what they can find in each one.


Harper Over Door Storage, $39, Pottery Barn Kids

Designed for a nursery, there’s no reason why this preppy over-the-door canvas storage option can’t do duty (See what I did there? My husband is so proud right now.) in a play space. Personalization is optional, and this comes in three different colors.

Make sure you have some “catch all”-type storage options available that can hold toys of all sizes. Yes, ou can always purchase a basket or floor bin to serve the “catch all” purpose, but my favorite option? A storage ottoman! I can’t tell you how much I love the one we have in our playroom. I purchased it a few years ago from The Land of Nod and it still looks like new (you can see our ottoman over on Instagram). It not only corrals toys of every shape and size and hides them, but it also doubles as seating. In fact, it’s the only seating we have in our playroom. Choose a neutral color or pattern so that one day when you don’t need it for toy storage, you can easily move it to another room in your home. Here are a couple great options:

Clare Tokatli Upholstered Storage Ottoman, $133.99, Wayfair

Hamilton Rectangular Storage Ottoman Bench, $146.99, Amazon

Upholstered Storage Bench (multiple fabrics available), $349, Land of Nod

Lattimer Upholstered Storage Bench, $120.99, Wayfair

Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite toy organization solutions? Tell me in the comments.

P.S. If you want a handy checklist to guide your decluttering, check out this post — it even includes a FREE printable version of said checklist with 39 things to purge right now. Enjoy!

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Bethany Crisp

Tuesday 13th of December 2016

All great tips!! Love the storage options!! Definitely need to purge before Christmas over here!!


Tuesday 13th of December 2016

Thank you, Bethany! I just purchased the keypad storage hanger from The Land of Nod for our play area in the basement. I also purged some toys about a month ago but now need to go back for round two!

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