Five years ago I wrote an article on what to do with old toys. Now that the holiday season is here, I’ve decided to revisit it. For many, the holidays means the acquisition of new stuff, and that can lead to clutter, especially if you have young children. Here’s another look at what to do with old toys, with a few updates for this year.
Donating is a fantastic option (for clothes, too).
- Charities are always looking for new and gently used toys. Many deliver toys directly to those who are in need while others may sell them in a thrift store. In either case, your donation can make a child’s day. Just make sure toys are undamaged and in good working order before going this route.
- Doctor’s offices. Many pediatricians have a “prize box” to reward their younger patients for getting through an unpleasant appointment. Books are often welcome as well, so give them a call to see if they accept donations.
- Daycare centers. Good luck finding a daycare that doesn’t want donations!
- Military families. Operation Homefront knows that military families are move frequently, and not every toy can necessarily make the trip. This great organization can help welcome the children of military families to a new city with toys just for them.
- Local fire department. Firefighters and EMTs often keep stuffed animals around to give to children they must transport to the hospital. Call the department in your area to see if they have such a program.
Repurpose Old Toys
As I said last time, “repurposing is where it gets fun.” Repurposing lets you get creative and even offers a way for kids to hang onto a toy (or part of it at least) they’ve grown attached to. Here are a few fun options.
- Animal head toy coat rack. I’ve pointed this out before and I still think it’s absolutely adorable. A very clever and useful project from Make: Craft uses the heads of discarded plastic animals to make a good-looking coat rack.
- Make something functional, like this Playmobil clock. It’s cute, useful and a great way to keep these adorable, vintage toys around without generating a mess.
- Unwanted LEGO bricks can be turned into just about anything, like this clever charging station. When they cease to be appealing toys, consider them building material.
- Brighten up the fridge with these great-looking puzzle piece magnets
- Create some art for the playroom or kids’ bedrooms.
Honor the Memory
We often fail to part with things not because of the item itself, but with the memory or emotion it represents. This is especially true as kids grow up.
My wife and I have two shadowboxes in our home: each with two or three items from when the kids were newborns. They are decorative, provide a nice memory for us and most importantly, do not waste space. Kids’ toys can be made into memory display boxes too.
You won’t be able to sell all of your old toys, of course. But some vintage toys and collectibles can attract buyers. Before you list your treasures online, you will need to take some photos. A good photo can make or break a sale. Here is a fantastic tutorial on how to photograph your items for auction sites like ebay.
There’s a lot that can be done with old toys. If you can, have your kids take part in the process you choose. They will feel a part of the decision and enjoy seeing the toy’s new role.