Toy Decluttering Made Easy


9 plastic bins holding a range of small, colorful toysBetween holidays and birthdays, parents of young kids can always count on certain times of the year to bring an influx of toys into their home. Without a little planning — and purging — you can find yourself swimming in a sea of primary-colored plastic. With the holidays around the corner, here’s how to prepare your home for the onslaught of gifts.

Quick Tips for Decluttering with the Kids

When it comes to tossing old toys, there are two schools of thought: Declutter with the kids or behind their backs. For very young children, an out-of-sight-out-of-mind approach is fine. Decluttering with older kids takes a little more prep.

Begin by setting an expectation about the what, when, why, and how of going through their toys. Explain what it means to donate belongings. Model it in other parts of the home, so it doesn’t appear that their toys are the only items under attack.

When the day arrives and it’s time to declutter, give your child room for decision making within clearly defined boundaries. For example, “Let’s choose four of your favorite dolls” or, “This is your basket for blocks. Let’s see how many fit in this basket.”

After a decluttering session is a great time to start new practices like a toy rotation and a one-in-one-out rule. Rotate toys based on the seasons, themes the kids are covering in school, or current interests. Store extra toys out of sight.

>> RELATED READ :: Monthly Declutter Schedule :: One Space a Week <<

shelving unit with 4 blue bins and an assortment of toys

Where to Donate Toys in Dallas

There are countless charitable organizations in the Dallas area that accept used toys. In many cases, they even pick them up from your front porch. Here are a couple that I particularly like donating to:

  • Genesis Women’s Shelter
    Serves victims of family violence.
    3419 Knight Street, Dallas, Texas 75219
    Donation hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Sunday, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • The Family Place
    Serves victims of family violence.
    11722 Marsh Lane, Suite 354, Dallas, Texas 75229
    Donation hours: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

In addition to donating the toys your children no longer use, consider starting a tradition of donating new toys around gift-giving holidays. For example, select a child from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, and work together to choose gifts for them. Alternatively, visit the Amazon Wishlists for local organizations and purchase items they have identified as most needed:

Donation Etiquette

As you gather toys to donate, here are a few guidelines to ensure that your donation is doing the most good.

  1. Make sure all of the toy’s pieces are present and corralled into a bag or box.

2. If the toys or books are not in good enough condition for you to consider buying them, they are probably not good enough to donate.

3. Think seasonally. Try to get your donations in early enough that they can be processed in time for parents to gift them to their kiddos for the holidays.

The Generous, but Unwanted Gift

How do you handle the gift that is not age appropriate for your child or simply doesn’t align with your parenting approach? Remember that the purpose of a gift is fulfilled in the giving, not the keeping. Don’t feel any guilt about passing an unwanted gift along to a family in need.

If the gift is too old for the child, consider stashing it for a while. If it’s something like a tablet that you want them to have limited access to, communicate a guideline for when, where, and why they are allowed to play with it.

>> RELATED READ :: 15 Non-Toy Gifts for Dallas Kids <<

As an organizer and a mom of two girls with a small house, I’ve become ruthless about what gets to stay in our home. Without my gatekeeping, we would be waist deep in tutus and dolls. While gifts for our girls are never expected, I’m not shy about communicating what we want and don’t want — and donating things that fall into the latter category. Here are some ways to gently guide well meaning friends and family:

  • Distribute an Amazon list for each child with some ideas at different price points. I know I appreciate a starting point for all of the kids I have to buy for, and your relatives likely will too.
  • For birthdays I suggest everyone contribute a small part to a bigger gift or a theme. For example, outdoor toys for spring fun in the backyard or gear for a new hobby.
  • Lastly, suggest experiential gifts like a trip to the Dallas Zoo, Dallas Museum of Art, or Perot Museum. The memories from experiential gifts have a much longer shelf life than the blocks that end up at the bottom of the toy box.


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