I only bought a couple small gifts for my son this year, but he’s the only little one on both sides of the family. In spite of restrictions my husband and I placed on gift numbers, some years we ended up driving home for an hour with a carload of stuff jammed between our legs and over our knees, me generally trying not to have a major panic attack from claustrophobia.
Like me, you’re probably wondering where you’re going to put all this new stuff from Christmas, and you’re eyeballing the old stuff. Like me, you may have a spouse that would rather make a pile to consign to the landfill than be bothered to have a garage sale or donate things to charity. It’s become my job to get rid of everything, otherwise he will have it dumped.
I ask you, my readers, to also look for new homes for old electronics, toys, board games, and clothes. There are still many places willing to take used items.
I also ask you to ask your children to participate with you in sorting. As much of a battle as it might be to get them to part with old items that they don’t play with any more, kids are never too young to learn organization and to consider the feelings of others. Ask them to help you pick out items a few at a time, so that purging doesn’t seem so dire. Remind them how they felt when they opened their new toys, and tell them that their old toys will make other kids feel just as happy. Even the littlest ones understand “good” and “bad” feeling, and they are surprisingly eager to help others feel good.
Old TVs, Gaming Consoles & Games, Board Games
Check with your local children’s hospital and/or Ronald McDonald House. You hate hospitals? Doesn’t everybody. These kids need the gift of distraction more than anybody and they’re more than happy to play your old PS3 or XBox rather than stare at four walls. Not every hospital is kitted out.
Nursing homes, women’s shelters, general hospital wards, and palliative care centres may also be more than happy to rehome your old TV sets.
Old Clothes & Children’s Furniture
There are second-hand stores that sometimes will take these items off your hands and give you cash to boot, but they are frequently really fussy. I try to hand down clothing to a friend with a smaller child. If neither of those are an option for you, there are many charity stores like Value Village and Goodwill that will take your items. Personally, my favourite charity is the Salvation Army, because they only keep 10 cents of every dollar they make for administration.
Old Books, Cars, Board Games, Flash Card Sets, Stuffed Animals, Dolls, Outdoor Toys & Equipment, Lego, Wooden Blocks, Puzzles, & Other Random stuff
I used to take old books to the library, but they’re downsizing their collections everywhere. My new favourite places to donate these items are women’s shelters and schools.
My son’s school had almost 90 kids enrolled in full-day Kindergarten, and as a former volunteer there and a parent on the council, I know how there’s only so much cash to go around. I took a whole carload of items to the elementary school here, and they were pretty well received and divvied up between the classes.
Even miscellaneous items may find a second life re-purposed or paired with something new. If you find a couple random items for your long-gone toy kitchen set, doll clothes without dolls, or a few pieces of Duplo that escaped a previous purge, odds are that they’ll be united with new owners. Or it might be added to the bin in Creative.
Some items will fail to find a new home, but every item that can be diverted from the landfill is also an item that may bring joy to another. Please consider this when you clean out your closets this break.
Joy and peace this holiday season!
Suzy Smith says
A lovely write up and great suggestions as always Anne. After my last hospital visit I was gobsmacked that the electronics were so old and generally lacking on my ward. So that is a great place to begin!
Food Retro says
Always open to more suggestions too if you have any! 🙂
Kyla @ Mommy's Weird says
I wish I was this creative. This year it was all about the dollars.
Sarah (est. 1975) says
When I put away my sons’ old toys and clothes, I divide them up between “Keep” (for future generations, or sentiment, or whatever) and “Can Give Away.” Then, as my sister’s children get older, or my friends’ children, I bust out the “Can Give Away” stuff at regular intervals and fling the contents at them willy nilly.
One rule though: THESE THINGS MUST NOT RETURN. Pay it forward, or give them to Goodwill. Just don’t bring ’em back here. XD
Food Retro says
Haha! Ditto on the no return!
Leanne O'Rourke says
I love purging as I am an ocd declutter bug but my husband and his kids hang on to everything! What I can’t understand is why we need to keep the paper with the game scores on it from the game you played 3 years ago? I don’t have the time to find new homes for most of our stuff so I do just donate it to charity, though I only donate to the Diabetes association cause my son and father both have diabetes. I figure I am helping them out some how.
In our city, the high school for teenage mothers takes a lot of donated goods from diapers to baby clothes to furniture for moms apartments.
Laureen @ Tempered With Kindness says
I love this post. You know, when you re-share it you are also practicing what you preach. How awesome are you?! 😀
We have a Family Activity Advent calendar and on at least one day there will be a tidy up and give away activity.
It allows the kids to pare down without guilt because they know their gently used things will make someone else happy.