Christmas Kids Toy Purge

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If you have followed this blog for a while, you know…I can’t stand clutter!

Clutter is both my constant companion (I have 2 grade school kids!) and a threat to my peace of mind.

I am always looking for new ways to control the clutter in my home, and this Christmas Kids Toy Purge has been a real winner for our family!

Clutter is both my constant companion (I have 2 grade school kids!) and a threat to my peace of mind. I am always looking for new ways to control the clutter (toys, games, clothes) in my home, and this Pre-Christmas Purge has been a LIFESAVER for our family! I swear organization is my love language!

I have read more blog posts than I can count about the holiday season and all of the gifts children receive.

There are endless debates about whether or not to request fewer gifts from grandparents, tell aunts and uncles to give our kids “experiences” rather than gifts, or give up on the idea of exchanging gifts all together.

My husband and I have always been frugal when it comes to holidays and birthdays. Our kids don’t expect elaborate or expensive gifts. 

But because we choose not to dictate to our extended family what they can or cannot buy for our kids, by the end of December we are literally swimming in new stuff!

So, I choose to use the expectation of new things to motivate my children to do a Christmas Kids Toy Purge. 

I have been doing this for the past 3 years, and it has worked exceptionally well for my family.

Unfortunately, if you have young children, you will find that you are doing the majority of the purging.

But you are setting an excellent example for your kids, and you are teaching them a habit that will benefit them for the rest of their lives!

Clutter is both my constant companion (I have 2 grade school kids!) and a threat to my peace of mind. I am always looking for new ways to control the clutter (toys, games, clothes) in my home, and this Pre-Christmas Purge has been a LIFESAVER for our family! I swear organization is my love language!

Here are the steps we follow in our home to accomplish the Christmas Kids Toy Purge!

Step #1: Make a plan & set up some guidelines

You know your kids the best.  You want to do this close enough to Christmas that they are super excited about it, but you don’t want to be thinking about this on Christmas Eve-Eve either!

I find that the ideal time to start is the second weekend of December.  We always start with the bedrooms, and then we move to the playroom.

We have a standing rule in our home: When we move something from the bedroom to the playroom, we must also move something from the playroom into storage (more about this later!). 

My kids are 6 & 8 and I have found that they can only work for about 1 hour at a time before I start losing them.  I have also discovered that I cannot expect them to do this task without parental guidance. 

So we usually pick 2 separate days to do the work (one day in their bedroom, and 1 day in the basement/playroom).  We set aside  2 or 3 one hour chunks of time and generally rent movies to watch in between.

Slow and steady wins the clutter clearing race!

Step #2: Keep, Trash, Move

The first thing we have them do when they go through a space is an initial keep/trash/move cycle.  I like to set up a keep laundry basket, a move laundry basket, and a trash can in their room and help them go through all of their toys and papers.

You will find that kids first instinct is to keep everything, it is important that as a parent you help them to make good decisions. 

Once we have removed the trash, we take the move basket down to the basement, and find new homes for the keep items in their bedroom.  When we progress on to the basement playroom, the method is the same, except the items in the move basket get boxed up and put in storage.

Step #3: Promise to keep items in Storage for at least 3 months before selling/giving-away.

Notice how I have used the word “move” rather than give-away or sell when I am communicating with my children.

I have found that the fear of making a mistake or changing their mind about something is truly crippling to my kids.

I am a big fan of selling old stuff so we have room for the new stuff, but my children are in the process of learning this skill and I find that this middle step is crucial.

My kids know that mommy won’t get rid of any of the stuff in our “move” box for at least 3 months.  I promise them that if there is something they miss, we can take it back out during that time.

Once 3 months has passed (and they almost NEVER miss any of it), I either give it away, put it in my garage sale pile, or trash it.

ONE LAST THING:  When you do decide to go through these boxes a few months later, don’t you dare do it when your children are around!  They will want it all back if they see it, kids are funny like that.

So that is our Christmas Kids Toy Purge! 

My kids are so proud of themselves when they are done, and the whole process of receiving gifts is a lot less stressful for this clutter-hating mom!

More Holiday Inspiration from HappiHomemade:


  1. I love that you use the word move. Such a good idea! I used to do this the best I could with my oldest. Then over the summer we lost literally everything we owned to toxic mold – so there was no choices, it all had to go. That being said, it’s been amazing how having very little has had on my kids. They are still just as happy and get more creative when playing. Having a clutter free life is pretty freeing and feels so good. My husband and I plan on moving forward in a minimalistic way because we never want to go back to having so much “stuff” … and this will spill over for the kids too. Valuing what they have and what is truly important. The rest of the stuff will use this method for. Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Savoring Saturdays linky party. Hope you’ll come back and join us this week.

  2. Very nice idea, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop.

  3. Thank you ALL for entering! Jazzy is our winner 🙂 We SO appreciate your comments and support of our blog. Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Toy Purging. 😉

  4. That’s great how you have involved your kids! I usually just do this myself. I’ve tried to ask the kids, “What things do you not play with that you want moved up to the attic?” and it’s usually not that successful, because all 5 kids rarely agree on the same things. They pretty much share everything.

  5. Thanks for linking up at Bloggers Spotlight, I pinned this post to our group board.

    I seriously need to work on this. I do a toy rotation every month, but I think I need to add another box for all the extra Christmas toys we will get. This is a great idea!

  6. Great tips that will stay with them for life!

  7. I need to learn how to be clutter and minimize, help!

  8. We have done the declutter for birthdays and plan to do it this Christmas as well! With two kids in one tiny room the toys are insane!! Even after they tidy up it’s a disaster in minutes. So our plan is to try to stay away from small accessory items that get lost in the toy box in a day, and get rid of those kinds of toys we have already. Stick to the ones with less pieces, and the ones they absolutely must keep (like the Mr potato heads) keep in a gallon zip lock in the top of the closet and they can only play with one bag at a time, and put it all back in when they are done.

  9. wow

  10. We don’t have any pre-holiday routines, yet! (my boys are almost 2 and almost 1), but we have been clear with the people who want to give them gifts what we want them to have (no toys that make a lot of noise, but they’d love books, clothes, and blocks), so that helps us keep the holiday stress and mess contained.

  11. Dawn Dockter

    We tend to donate a lot of warm clothes and coats that we have outgrown this time of year and we donate to Toys for Tots as well in hopes of providing a child in need something special to open on Christmas. I love the pre-Christmas purge idea because clutter just overwhelms me and I actually start to sweat thinking of more stuff being added to our home with all of the new gifts. I think this pre-Christmas purge could apply to all areas of the house and adults too and I like the notion of “moving” it out for 3 months because I find MYSELF crippled with feeling like I will make a wrong decision or need something I got rid of. Great idea!

    • Dawn, I am so glad you stopped by for this article! Donating items to families in need brings purpose to the purging process, that is for sure. Indecision is the thing that cripples us more than anything else, I hope the 3 month “hold” helps you through the process.

  12. We do a pre-Christmas purge but I don’t hang onto stuff for three months. I LOVE that idea though! Maybe that will entice them to purge more 🙂

    • I am so glad to hear it! It is amazing how much more you are willing to “set aside for 3 months” than if you were giving it away tomorrow. Us humans really do fear making a mistake……

  13. Kelly Davis

    I need this soooo very much!! It seems like there is never enough time to get it done! I look forward to reading this book and getting new ideas of how to get this done.

  14. I don’t really do anything like that before Christmas. Usually I just do a purge when I feel like clutter has taken over 🙂 I really liked this post, and I love that you use the word move Instead of give-away or sell. I’m pretty sure I’ll be coming back to this post after the holidays and put these steps into action!

  15. We try and do this each year before Christmas as well. It is so easy for the toys to pile up, especially when the kids find all those “deals” at thrift stores. I love the idea of keeping things for 3 months to see if they will miss them. I never thought of that before. I always try and get rid of it as fast as possible. Maybe trying it your way, might get them to be able to release their grip on those long forgotten, beloved toys. Thanks 🙂

  16. We have started this purge at our house. I did the little ones’ room, but your point about doing it with the older kids an hour at a time is a good idea. I think we’ll start that as soon as I can find an hour with them at home!

  17. I love this idea of a holiday purge. We do this periodically throughout the year, but just before Christmas is a perfect time! Our pre-holiday routine for the past 3 years has been the Jesse Tree. We do the daily reading and use ornaments from Ann Voskamp to place on the Christmas tree. We found that this is a great way to get our kids to focus on Jesus and wait for his coming. It helps them (and us) focus more on Jesus and less on the holiday madness.

  18. I love the idea of a pre-Christmas purge. My two oldest are borderline hoarders but my youngest is quick to give or throw away anything he doesn’t use.

  19. So good- I love purging things! Toys can get to be so cluttered. I feel like I am constantly trying to eliminate the clutter in this area.

  20. Sarah Brincks

    What a great idea! I will have to try this with my kids. We are just inundated with stuff!
    We don’t have any pre-holiday traditions other than baking. Christmas is a hard time of year for us. My father passed on Christmas day almost two years ago. We just try to chat a lot with our kids about him since they were both very little.

  21. After several years of adult led purging, my son is beginning to go through his things and set aside those that he no longer plays with or wants to keep. It is so gratifying to see him taking this lesson to heart.
    Our favorite pre-holiday routine is one of three activities from our church – a daily scripture reading and placing of an ornament on the Jesse Tree; a daily opening of a gift that asks us to read a scripture/do a charitable task/have a fun activity with other family members; or opening a slot on a pop up Nativity scene.

  22. We do a pre-holiday de-clutter routine as well. I go through all of the toys and get rid of a lot of their extra toys. I do let them help me. Most of the time they will lose interest half way through. I donate a lot of the newer and nicer toys to our local homeless shelter – which is also a shelter for mothers and children.

    I’d love to read Ruth’s book. It looks so good!
    -Sarah (

  23. I just did this yesterday! Great ideas!

  24. Hi. I love this idea and will be doing this. My house I feel could use this idea:). One tradition I’m trying to keep is not being super committed or overwhelmed during holiday time. Don’t want to be so busy that the holiday time just flies by;).

  25. This is SUCH a great idea! My husband and I are also frugal, but I always find things in my home I can give away. I love the idea of getting the kids involved! (I’m pinning this for when my baby girl is old enough 😉 I also love that you “move” the item and not give it away. Sometimes when decluttering, I too get worried I’ll make a mistake and miss something (so I can totally see how it’s extra with kids!), so I like the idea of saving it for 3 months before giving it away!

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