Games are a fun, interactive way to spend time with family – especially during this season of social distancing at home. However, they also take up a lot of space and have parts that can go missing or become disorganized. Today, I’m sharing one of the organizing projects I completed while quarantined at home: how to organize your family’s collection of board games in a way that saves space and is easily accessible.
Why I decided to organize games using zip pouches
I don’t know if you feel the same as me, but it feels like I have more time than usual and less time than usual – all at once. On days that the kids are happily occupied with an independent activity, I’m feeling energized and I feel like taking action on something! So, I’ve taken full advantage of those days and worked on a few organizing projects around the house during the quarantine.
One of the projects is tackling our collection of board and card games. I actually started this process last Christmas, but with the busyness of the holidays and the new year, I didn’t prioritize it and never finished it. Then I saw my friends Brittney (@homegrowntraditions) and Rìa (@riorganize) post their game organization using the same method, and they gave me the motivation and push to finally get it done. Thank you, ladies! (PS make sure to follow them both for major organizing and homemaking inspo.)
The idea of separating games into more user-friendly and space-saving bags is not a new idea – and I certainly am not the first to do it. Through talking about this on stories I found that people like @hello.happy.home and @simplify_in_style have done it before and influenced others, and I also got messages from people who did this when they were kids using ziplock bags. Point being, is that when a common problem (games) can be solved with a simple solution (bags) there will be lots of people doing the same thing because it just makes sense!
This quarantine has highlighted the need and use of family game nights (and days!) so naturally, many of us are turning our attention to how to organize them. America is going to end up with lots more organized game closets, drawers, and cabinets after this – and I love that! 🙂
Here’s how I did it for our game collection – and how you can easily do it, too.
The Best Way to Organize Board Games
What you will need to organize your game collection:
- Flat surface
- Garbage bag
- Donation box (if needed)
- Zippered pouches in assorted sizes (see links below)
- Label maker or something to label the pouches
- Box cutter
1. Take a “before” picture
Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a “before and after” of any project, especially organizing ones. When I used to organize for clients professionally, I would want to jump right in and sometimes I would forget to take a pic. Don’t forget this step! Sometimes we forget quickly how bad it was, so seeing a pic is a great reminder and proof of your progress. It will sometimes take you by surprise to see the difference side-by-side in photos!
2. Take everything out
Take all the games out of wherever they live, whether it’s a cabinet, drawer, closet, shelf, etc. We have our games in a bench built into our breakfast nook. We did that purposefully knowing that this table is where we would play games as a family most often. It really is convenient to have it right there, however, the boxes piled on top of each other made it hard to see the games underneath and pull out what we wanted without messing everything up.
“Take everything out” is a key first step to organizing anything, because it lets you truly see everything that you have and place items back into a blank space. If you try to just pick things out, there will inevitably be things that you will miss.
So use a counter, a table, or even the floor to take all the boxes of games and lay them all out so you can see everything.
3. Set aside games no longer used or with broken/missing parts
As you are taking boxes of games out, you will come across games that you know your family either outgrew or never was really into. Set those aside to donate or pass along to someone else. No need for it to keep taking up space if it’s one you know you probably won’t use.
You will also come across loose parts and broken boards and boxes and pieces. Set those aside, too, so that you can match them up to the games as you take everything out. And if it’s truly broken, then set that aside to toss. I had a garbage bag nearby so that I could toss as I sorted. Pretty crazy how much random pieces I found in there!
I also found crumbs and dirt in there (gross) so I used my hand-held vacuum and cleaned it all out.
4. Take inventory
I always suggest taking everything out and taking inventory of the items you are organizing so you can get the right fit, both in the size and quantity, of products you purchase for any project.
If you don’t want to have a pile of games and boxes sitting there as you wait for the pouches to arrive, I understand, so feel free to order a bulk order in advance. Just try to do some sort of “headcount,” and since you will likely add-on more games as time goes on, having extra isn’t a bad idea. But you will want to know a ballpark amount of what you will need so you don’t get stuck mid-way needing more and have to put your project on hold!
5. Purchase pouches
I knew my numbers, so I ordered several packs of pouches off of Amazon. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you probably know just how much I LOVE zippered pouches for organizing everything, especially for travel organization (like kids’ snacks and everything in my carry-on bag.)
These pouches have always been my favorite for their sturdiness and quality – but they often sell out or are not as easily available. So a backup I had been using were these pouches from Amazon. However, I didn’t love the way that those wrinkled, so I tested out alternatives and came across these which are a more rubbery material that seem sturdier than the previous Amazon ones.
I purchased several packs of both the letter size (A4) and a variety pack (which I used for small games and cards.) Letter size will be your most versatile one being able to fit most games and puzzles.
Note : I cut off the “SUNEE” label just to make it more streamlined and clean-looking.
6. Larger pouches
For the larger games like Othello and Sorry, I used legal size pouches I already had on hand (I’m telling you, I love these pouches so I stock up on them throughout the year!) As an alternative, this pack has the larger sizes mixed in. It’s not the thicker material as the pouches I used for our games, but if the wrinkly-ness doesn’t bother you then you might want to go for these packs to begin with so that you have those larger sizes.
The tricky sizes are the REALLY big board games like Candyland that need an even bigger bag. Thanks to Brittney for finding these, here is a pack of all A3 sizes. These are blue, though, so if you want all black zippers then you might want to get the packs above.
All that to say, you will have to do a little bit of mixing and matching. There are a lot of zipper pouch options on Amazon, but you will have everything you need with all the options above!
7. Place games in bags – and cut out any instructions or puzzle pictures
As you place games into the pouches, you will instantly start to feel more streamlined and organized! Toss and recycle those game boxes BUT before you do, make sure you keep any instructions you need.
For instructions, all of our games came with paper inserts, so I placed those inside the bags.
For puzzles, I started to cut out the pictures of the cover of the puzzle box with scissors but the thickness of many boxes made it hard. So I used a box cutter and that made it easier. Just watch your fingers! I think this was actually the hardest part of the whole project. But it wasn’t bad at all.
8. Label the bags using a label maker (or other label)
Once I placed all items, instructions, and puzzle pictures in the bags, it was time for the finishing touch : labeling!
I have this label maker which is super handy. I prefer the Brussels font, all caps, with simple white label tape. It seems like it easily peels off, but if you just leave it alone it stays on pretty well.
Other alternative label ideas :
- Chalkboard labels with chalk marker
- Blank mailing address labels with pen or marker (or you can type it in and print!)
- Taping the name of the game directly onto the bag with shipping tape, cutting it out from the box
- Sharpie directly onto the bag
I typically label these on the top left side of the bags, so that’s what I did here. You can place them anywhere you’d like, but I’d recommend somewhere towards the top, so that when you line them up, you can more easily see the names of the games like a filing system, of sorts.
Your kids might play with games more now
Since organizing our games this way, I have found that our kids play with them more! Even though Paige can’t read the labels, she can see the contents and she can pull items much more easily. I have actually found her playing quietly by herself with some of the games, stacking Jenga blocks or playing the fishing game. Kids getting games on their own and playing independently and quietly??!!! Sign us up, right moms???!! LOL.
Enjoy a more user-friendly, space-saving, organized game collection!
I love that all of our games are neatly organized and easily accessible since they’re “filed” all in a row. And there’s room for more in a second bench, which is now completely empty.
This has been such a game-changer (PUN INTENDED!) for our game collection. It’s pretty straightforward and easy, and you can adjust it to however works best for you and your home. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can organize your games, too!
Good luck, mamas – and happy organizing!
S H O P T H E P O S T