Yes, even those of us who try to minimize consumerism during the holidays will likely be deluged by presents from well-meaning relatives and not-so-secret Santas, making our homes crowded with toys, plus decorations, family and food.
Now is your chance to take charge before the cardboard boxes, wrapping paper and packing peanuts flood every corner of your house.
Do it now. Don't be a hoarder.
Figure out which toys your kids haven't touched in months or years and give or sell them to someone who will use them more often.
Some parents sneak toys out of their kids' collections. Others ask their children to choose what they want to donate, perhaps, adding: "Santa doesn't bring presents to kids who have too many already."
Depending on your kids' ages and maturity levels, you might want to involve them in the process of charitable giving.
Though it can be hard to part with toys, letting go of stuff and sharing things with others can be great life lessons for little ones, especially during the holidays.
Here are some options for the toys your kids have outgrown.
If you have toys in reusable condition, take them your neighborhood thrift store, day care center, school or other organizations that serve families and children.
Goodwill and other local donation centers usually accept toys that are in good condition and have not been recalled.
Donate only toys that can be used as they were originally intended. Replace batteries, when necessary, and make sure all the relevant parts are included. Otherwise, throw them out. No one wants a puzzle with missing pieces.
Donate toys with cords and small pieces in zip-close bags to keep everything together.
If you're donating stuffed animals, make sure they're clean. Tumble them in the dryer with a damp washcloth to freshen their fur, if necessary.
Though many organizations are asking for toys this time of year, most of them want new toys in original packaging.
Before making a donation, ask what is accepted. Don't saddle your charity of choice with the cost and labor associated with safe toy disposal.
Electronic toys, broken or working, should not be thrown away because they contain heavy metals and other materials that can be harmful to the environment.
Lynnwood-based E-Waste LLC recycles various electronics.
TVs, computers, monitors and laptops are accepted for free.
Electronic toys and other miscellaneous e-wastes cost 40 cents per pound to recycle at the Lynnwood location, 12424 Beverly Park Road, Lynnwood (425-239-4118).
E-Waste's other two drop-off sites, both Pacific Power Batteries locations -- 3729 Broadway, Everett (425-259-9260) and 107 E. Cedar St., Mount Vernon (360-419-3190) -- charge miscellaneous recycling fees of $1 per item under 3 pounds, $5 per item 3 to 10 pounds and 40 cents a pound for items heavier than 10 pounds.
See www.e-wastes.com for more information.
Some toys are worth selling, especially collectibles. Legos, for example, last forever and have relatively high resale values. See sites such as bricklink.com or www.toybrickbrigade.com to sell or buy used Legos.
You might also check with local toy shops. BobaKhan Toys & Collectibles, at 2916 Hewitt Ave., Everett, for example, buys and sells second-hand toys as well as new.
BobaKhan specializes in movie, TV, cartoon and comic-related toy lines such as Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe, ThunderCats, LEGOs, Hello Kitty and My Little Pony. See bobakhan.com or call 425-258-3582.
Ebay and other second-hand sites also offer guides for selling your toys online, including action figures, board games, stuffed animals and trading cards.
If you've spent hundreds or even thousands on expensive Thomas & Friends or PlayMobil loot over the years, it can feel like a tragedy to just give it all away.
Ask friends and family if they'd be interested in taking on your collections.
Some toys are so costly when purchased new that it's actually worth it to ship them parcel post across the country to another family looking to save money.
Toss: When a toy is no longer useful, throw it away.
If you know a toy is unsafe because it has been recalled or contains lead, put it in a plastic bag and toss it.
Don't donate toys that have bite marks, chipped paint or broken parts.
Think gently used, not used up.
Sarah Jackson: 425-339-3037, email@example.com.
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