Too much kids’ stuff! Where to donate/how to refuse

I have two young kids who have several aunts and uncles and several sets of grandparents (through divorce and remarriage). My husband and I are the only ones of our generation who have kids so our kids are the only children in the family. Our family generously and lovingly lavishes gifts on our kids - we are so lucky as to have tons of clothes, toys, books, blankies, etc for our kids despite having bought almost nothing. However, it’s getting to be too much! We live in a small house with very little storage, and we generally try to live an anti-materialist, make-do-with-what-you-have lifestyle (nothing extreme, but, like, 5 stuffed animals are probably enough for a two-year-old).

We’re not sure what to do with all the gifts and extra stuff we keep getting. Whenever anyone asks what the kids need we say, “nothing, we barely know what to do with what we already have!” But the stuff keeps coming in anyway. We had planned to just accept the gifts and then donate what we don’t need/want, but I’m realizing how hard it is to get rid of kids stuff! All our friends have too much already, and we’ve tried three separate second hand stores that have taken a tiny fraction of what we’re trying to get rid of. Even Goodwill was refusing donations when we tried to take them there. I’m certain someone could use these beautiful clothes, toys, stuffed animals, etc, and am really resistant to just throwing them away, but meanwhile they are slowly taking over every corner of our house. Any advice, either on politely and gracefully turning away gifts for the kids, or on what to do with the stuff we don’t have space for? Anyone here need kids stuff or know someone who does? 

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I have had good experiences getting rid of things in the Buy Nothing groups on FB, as well as a couple of family themed buy/sell/trade groups (one in Oakland and one for Berkeley/Oakland). There is also a group related to The Mamahood on FB called The Giving Circle, and I've found lots of folks who need baby and kids items on there. 

We have the same problem with the accumulation of stuff, and I sometimes tell people that we do need to give things away if they get things without consulting us first. I also have ongoing conversations with my kid about him choosing old toys to give away to make room for the new ones, and he participates in that process. 

Preschools! Especially ones in underserved areas that rely on donations to supplement their budget. And depending on the age range of the toys, elementary classroom teachers. You can post in the marketplace section.

There is a great group on Face Book called Buy Nothing East Bay where you can give away anything to families who are looking for what you post.  It is very easy and a great community to be part if. 

There is a relatively new organization called ToyCycle that might work for you. They will pick up kids items in bulk. I believe they operate out of Oakland. You could give them a try. Good luck!

We have struggled with the same problem on and off over the years. I have never asked family members to stop giving gifts (though, like you, when asked what they need/want I say “nothing”). What I have learned is easy and effective is to “disappear” some gifts before they are opened. So if a grandparent sends two boxes, I give my kids one of them and put the other one immediately in the donation pile. When toys and things are unopened, there is no end to the ways to donate them - everyone will happy take them. As my kids get older, my plan is to let them open all the gifts, then immediately decide one to keep and one to donate to other kids who don’t have as much. Hope that helps. 

Hi, I have a friend who teaches in north Richmond, one of the poorest areas in our Bay Area. Her families can use clothes and toys for any age, so just email me and I will get your much appreciated donations to her. Thanks, Josie 

For toys, Habitot, the hands on children's museum in downtown Berkeley, can take them for the toy lending library. They don't take stuffed toys, gun toys, violent toys, etc.

For clothes, I post on BPN or for free that I have a bag or two (sort by approximate size), and someone usually will come pick up.

For toddler knick knacks, same thing, post for free, and there are always some family who needs it.

I don't know how to go about selling stuff, seems more trouble than it's worth.

quarterly, at the dimond branch library in oakland there is a children's clothing, toy, and equiptment swap. you can take everything there and there is no expectation that you have to take something back in return.

Hi there!  If you have clean clothes in good condition please consider donating to one of the Lifelong Community Medical clinics that have a pediatric clinic-West Berkeley and the San Pablo site for sure.  Parents are always interested in free clean good to excellent clothes/shoes/jackets.  You may have to do a google search and make some phone calls to find the pediatric clinic but I know parents have happily accepted clothes I’ve brought in the past.

Hi, There are Buy Nothing Facebook groups by neighborhood where people offer items for free to neighbors. Also you can offer things for free on the Nextdoor app.

Hope this helps.

There is a wonderful resource for low-income families in West Oakland called St. Vincent's Day Home, 1086 8th St.  They will accept drop-offs during business hours.  They will make sure your donations get to very grateful families in need.  

Also, on the border of Oak/Berk is Oakland Elizabeth House, 6423 Colby St.  They are less convenient because you have to call to set up an appointment to donate and they don't always get back to you in a timely manner:  (510) 658-1380.    They support mothers & children who are in recovery and working hard to get back on their feet after substance abuse or domestic violence.  

A few ideas. Set up a college savings plan (529?) and ask people to donate to that instead of bringing things. Ask for things that are small. Ask for things you actually need or want. Rain boots? Watercolors?Ask for consumables like coloring books or work books. You need to have a list at the ready, because saying you need need nothing is not working. 

For the toys (and maybe clothes) try toycycle. It’s a newish site where you can post toys for free, or have them pick up your stuff and sell it (consignment). Other that that I get rid of kid stuff by posting it for free on nextdoor or the local Facebook buy nothing families group. Those options are easy bc you don’t have to go anywhere - people come pick up. 

Try the Buy Nothing East Bay Families group on Facebook! 

I’ve found Facebook mama groups to be a helpful resource for donating and receiving child-related items! I recommend joining your local “Buy Nothing” group (depending on your neighborhood). There are a couple of general ones as well, like “Buy Nothing East Bay Families.” Other donation groups: “TM: Giving Circle” (must be a member of The Mamahood group first) and “Heart of Solidarity.”

That said, our family is looking for gender-neutral clothes in 18 months and up, wooden toys, and children’s musical instruments! Let me know if you can help. Thanks for your generosity!

Hi,You can contact David at the Gabriel Project. They collect donations of baby and children's items to help pregnant and new moms in need. I'm sure he'd be happy to accept donations from you.David Zarri
Program Coordinator - The Gabriel Project of California
The Gabriel Project of the Diocese of Oakland
davidlzarri [at] (davidlzarri[at]earthlink[dot]net)
925 686-9277

TVMOTC is mothers of multiples group that holds a twice a year consignment sale at the Alameda County Fair Grounds. You can try selling your items there. Here is the link for more information

Next one is in October. I would read the FAQ and the attached PDF within the FAQ to get yourself familiarized with the process. It's a highly organized event; down to the issuing of online barcodes and seller ID numbers to individually tag your items for sale. So reading up and experiencing the sale first hand will help tremendously in setting your expectations for the sale of your items.

Hi there, 

I recommend offering things on the Buy Nothing East Bay Facebook group. It's a little work to post photos, but otherwise really easy and convenient. 

Or call/email a couple domestic violence or homeless shelters in your area. I donated a lot of clothes to the Elizabeth House (on berkeley/oakland border). Not sure if they take toys but they took all my maternity clothes. 

There is also the prenatal homeless program in San Francisco. 

Finally, you could sell a lot of those things back to a 2nd hand or consignment shop like Childs Play in Oakland or Mommy's trading post. Not sure where you live, but I'm sure there is a second hand shop near by. 

Good luck!


We have the same problem, and beyond firmly telling the grandparents that we do not want to receive gifts at holidays (it doesn't work), we've also tried to redirect them to things that we would prefer (for us, this means books - they don't take up a lot of space and they are actually used and enjoyed). We say thank you for all gifts, but save the enthusiasm, photos of our daughter using the gift, etc only for the gifts that we actually want to continue receiving.

For donations, have you tried BANANAS?