Although this is her third Christmas, this is the first that our daughter, Lina, is old enough to revel in the magic. She finally knows who Santa is, and she talks about him every day — even though she shies away when we pass by him at the mall. When I ask her what she wants Santa to bring her, she immediately responds, “A Barbie! A purple one!” With careful plans not to overdo it, my husband and I cannot wait to see her face on Christmas morning when she sees the gifts that Santa has brought.

However, one look at our overflowing playroom makes me cringe just a little bit at the thought of adding to it. With Lina’s help, we have slowly but surely begun to weed through her toys and pick some to share with other kids who might enjoy them, too. As packages begin trickling in from friends and family, now is as good a time as any to start organizing and planning for their replacements.

Mind your bin-ness


Kids’ toys rarely come in neat, stackable forms. They come in a million pieces that come apart into a million more, and they never seem to go back into a nice package. Bins allow you to gather them up into one container. Opt for a variety and include some clear bins so that you can see what is inside at a glance. And do yourself a favor: When you see one that you like, buy more than one. Bins look better when there are several of the same kinds stacked or stored together. Get a variety of sizes, but make sure you have at least two of each one.

Go low

Place large toy bins low enough so that kids can reach toys when they want them and clean them up when they are done.

Go high

Keep once-in-a-while toys, like tablets, puzzles or bubbles, stored up high and out-of-reach. This way, kids will have to ask permission to use them, which will limit their use and also help prevent them from breaking them or losing accessories.


In another room, whether in the garage, the storage shed or bedroom, create a shelf strictly for toys that is out of sight from your kids. This will allow you to rotate toys throughout the year, adding space to your playroom and making “old” toys new again later.

Change it up

Get the bins, but don’t forget about other forms of storage, too. Tables, chairs, benches, and baskets all conceal the stuff — and can add some style to your playroom while they are at it.

Have a comment or question for Joanne? Email thefi