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10 Tips for Playroom Organization

Read All About It

Lining up books on a shelf is tedious, and they usually end up in a messy pile ten minutes later anyway; instead, slot them into this sleek canvas rack. He'll easily find all his faves because the covers face forward -- and the handy bins below can hold blocks, cars, action figures, puzzles, whatever he can get his hands on. Sling Bookshelf, $69.95; onestepahead.com

Well Suited

Polly Pockets, Barbie shoes, bead kits -- if the dog doesn't eat them up, then the vacuum cleaner certainly will. Protect her tiny treasures in these sweet three-piece suitcase sets she can also tote along on playdates. Have Star Wars guys to stash instead? Check out the other colors, like green, blue, and red. Pack Your Bags, $19.95 per set; landofnod.com

Inside the Box

These cool modular cubes offer endless possibilities for toy storage and decor -- use just one as an end table or stack six to form a wall unit. In 12 colors. Three lucky moms will each win a set of two toy boxes plus a topper to create a table (value: $163). Go to Parenting.com to enter. See page 128 for more details. Via Toy Boxes, $59 each; viatoybox.com

Hang Time

No more dropping dress-up clothes on the floor! This modern, eco-friendly rack made of sustainable wood is perfectly sized, so your tot will be inspired to hang up all her things. It's a splurge, but it looks so good that you'll keep it around when she's grown up. Also in light green, brown, and natural. Hang-Ten Coat Rack, $120; ecotots.com

Spin City

This multipocketed storage cylinder is made of mesh, so you can easily see inside to find that oh-so-important sparkly unicorn. Suspend it from the ceiling, hang it in the closet, or dangle it from the end of a curtain rod or bedpost. Also in navy and khaki. Bongo Nest Storage Unit, $24.99; itoyboxes.com

Basket Case

Turn your kids into quicker picker-uppers with these colorful and durable baskets deep enough to hold everything from baby dolls to backhoes. Available in four striped color combinations and nine solid colors. Strapping Floor Bins, $14.95 each; landofnod.com

Before You Toss It...

So you've shelved, stacked, and corralled all their favorites. Now what to do with the toys they don't play with so much? Before you ditch the leftovers, or foist them on that new mom down the street, check out these smart ideas:

Get your money's worth

Larger things in good condition may be worth selling online or at a garage sale in the spring; duplicate games or unopened building kits can be saved for regifting at a birthday party (yes, everyone does it!).

Donate books

Local libraries, shelters, and hospitals often welcome children's books. If they're in decent condition -- free of torn pages, scribbles, and the like -- share the love of reading.

Size things up

Dress-up clothes, too-small Halloween costumes, and outgrown sports equipment (like those itty-bitty ice skates or T-ball bats) are always in demand. Dig them out to resell or donate.

Repurpose it

Make a craft box with stacking cups to hold paint; little people, furniture, and cars to add to school projects; and items like beads, fabric, and string for embellishing collages.

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