I've worked on a few children's play areas recently and I'm reminded of what I learned from Paige Trevor years ago -- you think kids want Filene's Basement, but they really want Henri Bendel's. If you don't get the reference, Filene's was an over-crowded department store and Bendel's was a luxury store that had a sparse amount of merchandise. Trevor was referring to clothing, but would probably agree that the same goes for toys.
If toys are a problem in your house, you probably realize that problem is about to get worse. NOW is the time to think about how you will manage all of the stuff that is likely to try and come into your house this holiday season.
To stay ahead of it, here's what you can do:
Gather all of your children's toys into one place and decide what to donate, toss and keep. If they are too young to help, you can do this without their participation. And if you're concerned about your kids missing a particular item you want to purge, gather those items into a box, place the closed box somewhere they'll never find it, and make a note to purge its contents if nothing has been requested after a period of time (typically 1 - 6 months).
If your kids are old enough, invite them to join you in this process and take the opportunity to teach them the skill of decluttering. Challenge or, if needed, require them to fill a certain number of bags of donations.
Do what you can to request specific items from well-intentioned family members who tend to go rogue -- and overboard -- in the gift-giving department. Encourage experiences and perishables or maybe one big-ticket item that everyone will enjoy.
Remember that your kids don't need so many toys. It's way more appealing to see what you have than feel overwhelmed by the choices and the mess (this applies to toddlers through teens...and even adults!).
Control the chaos by minimizing your own shopping these next two months, for yourself and for others. Clutter = mess = stress, and it would be better to have less of all three!
If and when something new does come in, make sure you have made room for it by donating something that it will replace. That's the "one in, one out" guideline -- or "one in, two out" for extra credit:)
And just because you receive a gift, doesn't mean you need to keep it. Be picky with what takes up precious space in your home!