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Games of all sorts are a great source of entertainment!  I think many of us have forgotten this with the popularity of video games, texting, social media sites and endless channels of nothing on TV.

Board and card games are great for young and old alike.  Besides having fun,  kids can learn skills such as concentration, focus, patience, taking tuns and math to name a few.  For older folks, we keep hearing medical reports stating how important it is to keep the mind active so to avoid cognitive issues.  Games can help!

Ok, here is the organizer in me coming out…

  • Regularly review what games that are played.  Especially if a child has outgrown it.
  • Donate or toss ones of little interest.  If you donate, make sure all the pieces are there — the charity will check!
  • Store all games together.  In some cases by child in their rooms makes sense.
  • Ziploc bags can be great to use inside a box to keep small the pieces contained and organized.
  • Store smaller games and playing cards in clear containers.

Having difficulty storing because of the game box sides are broken?  Hard to stack because they are different sizes?  Check out the Game Savers Box!  Created with just these challenges in mind, these plastic boxes come in various sizes to store the board and pieces to our most popular games such as Monopoly, Risk, Colorforms, etc.  These sturdy boxes close tight and make it easy to stack and store.

Have fun organizing the toys and next time when you are with friends or family and think “there is nothing to do” pull out a game and have a blast!

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I see you

Donating, consigning and buying second hand children’s items just got trickier.  We are going to have to pay closer attention to how these items are distributed once they are no longer needed in our homes.

There is a new law that anyone selling children’s clothing, toys, accessories has to qualify that the any lead content is within legal limits.  For seller’s of  new items this can be easily determined from manufacturers.  For folks selling second hand, it makes it impossible to do so.  Boston Globe article

There still seems to be some confusion between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and store owners.

“The National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops said the commission’s attempt to clear up questions only caused more confusion. Although the commission ruled that resellers don’t have to test products for lead and other chemicals, they “cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit,” the commission said. Since many items found in consignment and thrift shops have never been tested, business owners are left to operate at their own.”

Many stores are closing. Many charities that operate thrift stores are taking children’s items off the floor in fear of breaking the law or being sued.  I know we want to keep our kids safe, but there also a lot of families that need these discount shopping venues with the economy the way it is. All or nothing can’t be the answer.

  • Before you donate to a “thrift store” charity such as Goodwill or Salvation Army call to see if they are accepting children’s clothing.
  • Before you head out to consign at your local kid’s clothing store, call to see if any policies have changed.
  • Charities that give items away for free to needy kids should be unaffected.

In a recent post I spoke about the need for donations for children is spiking.  Don’t let this stop you from donating, you just need to make a quick call to make sure your donations will be accepted.

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Oprah Organizes – Again

February 18, 2009

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O is for Organizing

Set your DVR for Oprah for tomorrow (Thursday.)  Her guest will be organizing expert Peter Walsh.  It is part of their road show series.  You can get some excellent tips from Peter and if you feel that you are disorganized you will also see that you are not alone!

The Container Store is a sponsor.  You can check out their site for air time and also, check back after the show or on the Oprah site.  Last time they offered 20% coupons for the store.  Not sure if they will this time  Now remember, only buy what you NEED.

The Container Store – Clean Up Your Messy House Tour

Have fun watching and saving…and look for a fellow New England organizer Elizabeth Selders in the audience.  She was there an spoke on camera, hopefully she makes the final cut!

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You Give, You Get

February 6, 2009

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I have the pleasure of regularly making donations to a number of charities on behalf of my clients.  Unwanted household and clothing items are donated in the process of de-cluttering a home or office.

This week I went behind the scenes with some fellow organizers to a Boston children’s charity Cradles to Crayons. Cradles to Crayons works to provides, free of charge, low-income and homeless children from birth to pre-teen the basic essentials they need to be safe, warm, ready to learn, and valued. They also set a foundation for lasting change through the meaningful, tangible volunteer opportunities  provided to thousands of youth and adults each year.

Here are some great take-aways from my experience:

  • Requests for assistance have DOUBLED since the economy tanked.  They generally service 300 children per week.  They are currently getting requests from 600!
  • They spend $50,000 (yes thousand) in trash disposal every year.  Rule of thumb –if you would not put in on your own child or have your own child play with it, do not donate it.
  • When donating toys, games and puzzles make sure they have all the parts.  They check!
  • Charities such as Salvation Army are partners.  Attempting to “trash” as little as possible they work to find other charities for items that may not fit their criteria.

These can be translated to any in-kind donation organization.  In the Boston or Philly area?  Learn more about Cradles to Crayons.  In other areas,  find a charity that is close to you.  What is no longer serving a purpose in your life can make a meaningful difference in someone else’s.

Remember….”you give, you get.”

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Tax Tip Thursday – Week 3

January 29, 2009

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As an organizer, I am regularly recommending that folks donate unwanted goods to charity.  Not only will it help clear the clutter and  help those in need but they can also get a tax receipt.  This week’s Tax Tip Thursday is dedicated to information on just that!  You give…You get.

When donating goods to charity, make sure the items are something that someone else would want.  They need to be in good working order.  Charities spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on trash disposal — items people donated that are really trash.  So if you really want to help a charity, be selective on what you donate.

The good rule of thumb for donating goods is to keep detailed record in case of an audit.  I suggest (and do for my clients) the following:

  • Document what is donated
  • Take photo of the items donated
  • Donate to an organization that is an official tax exempt charity
  • Retain a tax receipt from the charity

How do you “value” what has been donated?  There are many sources that give you fair market value.  This is a start, but then it is best to consult with your tax professional.

  • IRS info on donating goods (IRS)
  • Workbook – “Money for Your Used Clothing” (Workbook)
  • Bankrate.com valuation worksheet (Worksheet)

If you didn’t keep good records in the past, now is a great time to start.  It is easy, and worth it to all.  You benefit and so do many needy charities.

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And now a word from my lawyer….you should consult your tax professional or irs.gov for any rules and/or tax laws. Atmosphere does not represent itself as a tax professional.