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Melissa Schmalenberger, Published December 23 2012

Make room for presents before they’re even opened

You know it’s about here: the opening of the presents from the overzealous-but-well-meaning grandparents. They always tend to buy the really large toys. Or maybe you yourself are buying a gift this year, and you aren’t sure where it is going to fit in the house. Maybe the space underneath your tree is already overflowing with gifts and it is stressing you out.

This year, as I bought gifts, I forgot that my son will have to carry them back to college on the bus with him. I hope he likes holding a Panini press on his lap! But don’t be like me and forget. Now is the time to get the game plan ready to go. Take some time and de-clutter, before the new gifts are unwrapped.

When my kids were younger I would always think ahead about where we were going to store their toys. Now that they are older, the gifts are smaller in size but larger in price. I don’t worry about the space problem as much.

But what do you do if space is an issue, or maybe just excess toys are an issue? Take action now to make room. Make an action plan and plan ahead. Put aside that little voice in your head that says, “But grandma’s feeling will get hurt if we get rid of it,” or, “I paid good money for that.”

Here are some tips to get you on the way:

• If you have young children, I have found that now is a great time to get them involved. Have a conversation with your children and talk about getting rid of the toys that they have outgrown or simply do not play with.

• You can visit with your children about leaving presents under the tree of books and toys in good shape that they have outgrown for Santa to take back with him up to the North Pole. Santa can then give them out next year.

• Or have the discussion about donating some of the toys, books and outgrown clothing to a local women’s shelter. I don’t believe a child is ever too young to begin talking to them about helping others. You may even be surprised to realize how generous your children are. It may even be contagious and carry on for years to come.

• Pick a certain number and have each member of the family find that many items that they are ready to part with. Sometimes it is easier to put that left brain to work with a number in mind and silence that right brain of sentimental attachment to items. You could even make a game of it and see who can find their items the fastest.

What is really important is to get the whole family on board. It is an important lesson for all of us to know when it’s the proper time to let things go to another home. The change can start with you and your family, or even just you.


Melissa Schmalenberger is a professional organizer. She blogs at mssimplicity.areavoices.com