This post is sponsored by Melissa & Doug, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.
It happens to every parent. You spend weeks, if not months, scouring stores and the internet for the perfect gifts to place underneath the Christmas tree. It’s the sweetest feeling watching them unwrap each one. Yet the magic is doused a few days later when you look around your home and witness the absolute disarray it’s become. This was us during our son’s second holiday season before we learned the importance of a pre-Christmas toy purge.
We didn’t make the same mistake the following year, especially since we added another kid to the mix by then. It’s honestly ridiculous how quickly the smallest members of your household accumulate the most crap. And who does it fall upon to clean after every mess? Parents (and really, us moms more often than not). Now we purge toys before every major gifting holiday to avoid the inevitable build-up that new Christmas toys bring.
I’m not gonna lie: it’s rather therapeutic to whip out the trash bags and vigorously stuff them to the brim. And the moment of relief when they’re tossed into local donation bins? Priceless. As aggressive as that sounds, I do, in fact, have a system in place when deciding which toys go and which stay. We’ve never had a child shed tears over the missing ones because they don’t even realize they’re gone. I’ve broken up how we choose what toys are not worth keeping into a few categories—and share which ones have survived every purge.
Poor condition or have missing pieces
This one’s obvious. If a toy is literally hanging on by a thread, it’s not even making it into the donation bin. But this also applies to the toys that generally aren’t well-made. Even if they’re not on the verge of breaking, they are well on their way so what’s the point of keeping? Think of those impulse dollar spot purchases that you got just to avoid a check-out line tantrum. They’re typically forgotten about within a day and they’re usually the first to go in a toy purge.
We also toss the tiny pieces that were once part of a set but the original companion items are nowhere to be found. We used to have so many of these because my kids just leave small items everywhere. This is why I’m not a fan of sets that don’t come with built-in storage. I had to stop hoping that we’d miraculously find the rest of the set because more often than not, it was gone for good.
No longer age-appropriate
Kids grow unfairly fast so it’s no surprise how quickly they age out of their baby toys. That silicone rattle collecting dust in their closet would get far more use in another family. Yes, there are certain baby items that you’ll have a difficult time parting with, but reserve your sentiments for a few heirloom quality toys you can store in a keepsake box—not the flashing, plastic toys that won’t hold up in a few years.
Minimal use or limited playing potential
It’s pretty easy to spot the toys that your kids rarely touch and then quickly shove them into the donate pile while they’re not looking. However, it takes a little more effort to part ways with items that your kids seem to enjoy every now and then. The best way to decide is by evaluating how much playing potential your kids’ toy selection is allowing them.
When kids have an overwhelming selection of things to play with, it ends up restricting their playing potential. My son, in particular, can’t have too many options, or else he will jump from toy to toy every few minutes and then get bored after an hour. A limited amount of open-ended toys with greater imaginative power allows him to play for hours at a time. I focus on keeping those and getting rid of the ones he only plays with for short periods of time then forgets about for weeks at a time.
What’s actually worth keeping
Toys that are long-lasting and encourage imaginative play are the long-reigning survivors of our pre-holiday purges. It’s not a coincidence that every single one of our Melissa & Doug toys are on that short list of picks every year. They’re the first pretend play toys we purchased nearly three years ago and that original batch, along with the new ones we’ve added to our collection, still get played with on the daily. I’m in the camp that believes wooden toys are superior to plastic ones because I’ve seen first-hand how long they last.
My kids are not gentle with these toys by any means and Melissa & Doug’s pretend play sets, arts & crafts, learning toys, books, and puzzles stand the test of time (and tiny hands). Their pretend play sets with multiple small pieces usually come with convenient storage so they’re easy to keep together for future play. And since they’re all open-ended, kids can role-play in unlimited ways. Learning toys promote simple concepts through fun and engaging games that keep kids interested and curious. Melissa & Doug does an amazing job of finding creative ways to advance kid’s developmental skills through play. All of their toys are worth the purchase every single time—shop my kid’s most beloved ones below and use code EVERYMOM20 for 20 percent off your purchase!
This post is sponsored by Melissa & Doug, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend brands we genuinely love.