Board game clutter

Some people have closets full of board games. My wife worked with a board gamer who had a closet literally jam packed full of board games and some of the boxes were in pieces. He would receive a new board game for every birthday and Christmas.

The board game itself isn’t really the space hog. The box the game comes in is the culprit. So what does one do to remedy the space that your board games eat up? The solution is rather simple.

First, take each game’s loose pieces and instructions and place them into a ziploc bag. Label each bag with the name of the game. Try and store all your different bags in a large box, but be sure to sort them in some kind of system so they are easy to retrieve. (Alphabetically, seems to make sense.) You may want to use file marking labels for the tops of the bags.

Second, stack all the boards together and label them accordingly. You may want to label the edge of the board as if it were a book in the library. Simply use a piece of masking tape and stick it on the fold. This will make finding the board you need very easy. Note: Some board games don’t fold neatly. So you may want to leave them in their boxes. (e.g. Life, Trouble, etc.)

This solution is quite simple and it will save you tons of space if you are a hard core board gamer.

22 Comments for “Board game clutter”

  1. posted by Yehuda Berlinger on

    Works well, until you want to sell your vintage games.

  2. posted by Erin on

    If you can put each game’s pieces and instructions in a single ziplock bag, then you are not a hardcore boardgamer.

    We have about 1100 boardgames, and none of them are Life or Trouble. We typically sort the pieces into 5 or 10 small ziplocks, so we don’t have to do it when setting up the game, but hardcore boardgames require small tackle boxes.

  3. posted by molly on

    I love board games and could never part with the boxes! It seems wrong. I also loved the closet in the movie, The Royal Tenenbaums where the family kept all their board games and puzzles. It was so cool.

  4. posted by Gamermk on

    I’m sorry, but if you have children this is about the worst system I’ve ever heard of.

  5. posted by Melinda on

    yeah, that’s not going to work for us. Sorry. Try this.

  6. posted by PJ Doland on

    You could get a little plastic case for each game’s pieces and instructions instead of a Ziploc bag. You would still save considerable space.

  7. posted by Erin at Unclutterer on

    I consider myself to be a hardcore board gamer. Most German board games come in “bookshelf” boxes, and I wish that American producers would jump on that bandwagon. My German games, in their boxes, fit neatly on my bookshelf. I love Matt’s idea, though, for all of our American games. Their packaging is ridiculous and a large ziplock freezer bag with smaller ziplock bags inside of it is a great idea. Thanks, Matt!!

  8. posted by Anonymous on

    I don’t really understand why this seems to be such a poor system of organization. –especially for kids.

    When my brother and I were younger, we kept the game pieces in zip lock bags, to keep every thing separated. That way when it was time to play, the boards could be set up quickly. We didn’t actually throw out the boxes, but if a box eventually broke and couldn’t be used any more, everything was already bagged up and it got tossed up in the closet with the rest of the games. Worked fine for us.

    And I like the link that Melinda provided, to the storage containers. But those kind of defeat the purpose of this article, to save space! They are just as large as the boxes the games come in to begin with.

    Either way, I think it’s a good idea. And the stacked game boards could look really nice on an open shelf!

  9. posted by Minnie on

    I have been decluttering and selling games I never use. I couldn’t be HAPPIER to have them complete with original boxes. They are selling at nice prices at my garage sale, because they have all their pieces and a shiny box to match…try that with a ziplock bag and the results will be different.

  10. posted by Eric on

    I echo the sentiment of others… don’t organize what you don’t need. 1100 games… at one per day it would take you over 3 years just to go through them all. Limit your game obsession to a reasonable number and be happy with your space savings.

  11. posted by Mags on

    Alternatively, start asking people to buy you games from Cheapass Games. Their simple principle is that the majority of games use standard things, so invest in a good set of standard things and just buy the game-specific stuff when you need to. Little men from ‘Escape from Colditz’ will work just as well in ‘Cluedo’ etc.

  12. posted by Don on

    Thats more hard core organizer type A than board gamer. LOL

  13. posted by Stephanie on

    A box full of ziploc bags seems disorganized to me…

  14. posted by Heather on

    Ditto that, Mags. Those are some fun games kept inexpensive because they don’t double up on pieces you’ve already got. I enjoy their games immensely. I’d give them more often as gifts, if only they didn’t say ‘CHEAPASS’ on them. The parents of my nieces and nephews aren’t going to go for that.

  15. posted by Richard on

    We did something similar with our computer games, which are much worse offenders on the space vs. contents ratio. (At least they used to be, before DVD cases became standard.) We have a 4-ring binder filled with plastic pockets. Usually the contents of a dictionary-sized box would fit in one pocket. Occasionally there was a hefty manual as well, and those would go on a nearby bookshelf. We only kept the pretty boxes, for display.

    A nice side benefit was that some of the games had a thin cardboard cover wrapped around an unmarked black box. We re-used those boxes for a variety of things.

  16. posted by Kathy on

    I have kids beyond the toddler stage and leave my games in boxes. We put them on their sides, like books on a bookshelf. As long as only 1 or 2 games are removed at a time, all of the rest of the boxes stay closed and you can fit 10+ games on a shelf. For extra security, put the small pieces in a ziploc so if the box opens up, nothing gets lost.

  17. posted by Bill on

    Fifty years into the future. Your grandkid clutches the game board and an ancient plastic bag with the gamepieces and stands before the appraiser on the nationally televised “What’s It Worth?” The appraiser says something like “Twelve dollars. But last week I sold this very game with the box for $375,000.” The kid goes home and scratches your name out of the family bible.

  18. posted by kris on

    We put all the game pieces in small tupperware containers that are labeled on the top and the sides. They stack nicely into a small shelf in the closet.

    I have two small sons. We took all the game boards, affixed velcro to the back, and decorated the boys’ room with them. They’re all up on the wall and are an easy and inexpensive way to make a kids’ room look fabulous. When we want to play that game, we take the board off the wall and find the corresponding tupperware container. Now we are not hardcore gamers. We have 24 games and that’s the limit I put on the house. If a new game comes in, one must leave.

  19. posted by Carrie on

    I came up with a great idea to organize board games a couple of years ago.

    I bought ONE flat Rubbermaid container. All the boards went in it.

    Then I took the pieces for each game and put them into a small Ziploc bag.

    Works perfectly and yes the boxes are what take up so much room.

  20. posted by Nikki on

    One New Year’s we made a resolution to play all our games once in the year. We kept track with a small chart taped to the inside of our game cabinet. We’ve repeated this for several years. One side effect of this “system” is that we have realized which games we don’t really enjoy, and those go to Goodwill.

  21. posted by Unclutterer » Archive » Monopoly: The uncluttered edition on

    […] wrote a piece in August suggesting ways to get board game clutter under control. Since that time, a new version of Monopoly has been released that takes this concept to […]

  22. posted by A Small Victory « Little Wonders on

    […] was this post on I remembered thinking that it was a great idea and so true, and I filed it away […]

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