Santa has come and gone, and while he may have left unbridled joy and squeals of delight in his wake, the jolly man in red probably also left you with a serious storage problem. Where, oh where, to keep all of the new LEGO/Frozen 2 dresses/Nerf bullets/LOLs/stuffed baby sharks/slime? Well, no need to panic, for I have rounded up 10 totally cute and practical ways to organize all of those new toys.
I reside in a two bedroom apartment, so toy storage is not something I take lightly. I am forced to stay on top of it (or attempt to, at least) lest my family be buried alive in rubber spiders and wooden trains. My strategies are constantly evolving — I've tried plastic bins, fabric bins, drawers, and tubs. I've shoved mini-rubber lungs into baggies, balanced a collection of tiny plastic toilets on shelving, and kicked ukuleles into closets. It can sometimes feel like a Sisyphean task — particularly after Christmas. No sooner have I found a spot to store the Hot Wheels Ultimate Gator Car Wash, when I am faced with where to put the Imaginext Transforming Batbot.
Fortunately, there are lots of tidy, Type A parents out there who have come up with some very clever storage solutions. All of which are far better than my "can we somehow just shoot Hungry Hippo and all of his accompanying marbles into space?" ideas.
1. Bins, Bins, & More Bins
But not just any bins. You don't want to get a heap of clear plastic and then feel like you live inside a dollar store. There are all kinds of cute storage bin options out there now, like these animal-themed bins from The Container Store, or these whimsical unicorn bins from Pottery Barn, or this pricey but totally cute monster-eating-the-toys bin.
2. Shoe organizers aren't just for shoes.
House Beautiful has a rather genius idea for repurposing hanging shoe organizers. The plastic pouches are the perfect size for stowing things like Transformers or Barbies, and have the added bonus of making Barbie look like she's trapped inside the Matrix. (Which she totally is, of course... the matrix of 4-year-old Maddies' mind.)
My own shoe organizer is actually a wooden wine rack, though now I'm thinking I should pull out my Skechers and fill it with my kid's Tonka vehicles?
"Ikea" is of course Swedish for "where to stow your child's random crap." They offer loads of cute storage solutions, the best of which may be the beloved Kallax bookcase. These things are essentially 16 tiny cubbies for your kid's slop. You can fill them with brightly colored bins, prop stuffed animals on shelves, and still have extra shelves for books. You will have to give a short speech entitled "Why We Never Climb the Kallax" (which will promptly be ignored), but the amount of space this thing provides is hard to beat.
4. A place to hang the tiara.
If you're drowning in Elsa and Anna gowns, you might want to consider a costume closet. Apartment Therapy has a great suggestion for converting a dresser into a little closet. Or you can snag one of these super cute ready-made "dress up centers" from Amazon, which even come with some handy glass slipper/wand storage.
5. Managing the LEGO nightmare.
I own one of these LEGO storage mats, and I think there should be a shrine to the inventor in every town square. Sure, it's basically just a blanket attached to a bucket, but the brilliant part is that the kids play on top of the blanket, so when they're done you just dump the blanket back into the bucket, and there is no crawling around on the floor picking up wheels the size of Cheerios whilst choking back an existential scream.
6. Knife holders. Yes, knife holders.
OK, I know one doesn't typically think of "knives" and "toy storage" in the same train of thought, but here's what you do: you get yourself some of those magnetic knife holders (from Ikea, of course) and you line them up on your kid's bedroom wall. Then you take your kid's 8 million metal cars, and voila! You have just created an amazing vertical garage. And if you're feeling fancy/enjoy projects that are destroyed moments after you complete them, you can even line them up by color!
7. A wall for all the Mo Willems.
The trouble with kid's books, is that kids have a hard time locating their faves by glancing at the spines. They need to see the whole cover, which is why forward-facing shelving is ideal for displaying picture books. I absolutely love this library wall from Project Nursery. But if you don't have that kind of wall space, even just a few forward-facing shelves gives kids the chance to spot their favorite Olivia or Pete the Cat.
8. Make use of that bottom bunk.
Have a bottom bunk sitting there empty? Well, that there is some prime real estate for toy storage, so get that bed out of there and invest in some shelves or a low cabinet, or just use it as a space for large, awkwardly-shaped toys, i.e. the Hot Wheels Ultimate Gator Car Wash.
9. Somewhere to stuff the stuffies.
If your kid likes stuffed animals, you may have secret fantasies of incinerators filled with melting glittery TY World eyes, because finding ways to store mountains of stuffed animals is maddening. Which is why I really admire this DIY stuffed animal zoo made of bungee cord and a wooden frame. Will your child's Elmo look as if he is serving time in prison? Possibly. Will he be off the dirty floor? Most definitely.
10. The under-the-bed train depot.
Why not make the last stop in Sodor be under your child's mattress? Train tables are great and kids love them, but they are also enormous and take up loads of space. Storing the table under their bed is a great way to keep the floor clear, and also keeps the child interested in this very expensive toy that you argued with your spouse about purchasing. Nothing makes a child tire of a toy faster than a toy they see every day. So put the train table in a drawer, or invest in one of these rolling versions, and that table will last you a long time.
11. Storage masquerading as a dollhouse.
While this one probably isn't going to make a huge dent in the toy pile, it's so cute I couldn't resist including it. It's basically little shelves shaped like a little dollhouse (and which you can snag from Target). It's mainly good for tiny or oddly shaped toys. It also provides a very cute splash of color to a kid's bedroom, which may help distract visitors from the snarl of fabric unicorn horns and American Girl detritus scattered across the floor.