Donating Stuffed Animals

Donating Stuffed Animals | Douglas Cuddle Toys Blog

If you’re like most parents, chances are you’ve got a pile of used stuffed animals taking up space in your home. Even if your child has long outgrown stuffed teddy bears or a prized cuddly friend, the idea of throwing once-treasured toys in the trash can feel unfathomable.

The million-dollar question then becomes: What to do with old stuffed animals? Donating them is a win-win answer. Unfortunately, many parents don’t know how to go about doing so.

With two young kids of my own, I typically do a closet/room cleanout every three months or so. This is where clothes are handed down from big sister to little sisterand little one’s outgrown clothes are set aside for donation. But my decluttering frenzy also extends to toys, which can be far trickier. (Tip: Take on this task when your children aren’t home. Otherwise, they’ll talk you into keeping everything!)

Before you clear out the clutter, read up on these helpful tips for donating your kiddo’s used stuffed animals.

6 Ways to Go About Donating Stuffed Animals

 

1) Local Schools or Daycare Centers

My little one’s preschool is always itching for new goodies. And, as the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I’ve donated loads of old toys and used stuff animals to the younger classes over the years, and it’s always been greatly appreciated. Before dumping it in the trash can, checkout local daycare facilities, schools and after-care programs like the YMCA. A surprising number will take them off your hands.

2) Official Donation Centers

Look into donating stuffed animals to a nearby Goodwill or Salvation Army center. I’ve donated everything from clothes to shoes to toys to our local chapters. In many cases, you can also deduct these donations on your taxes.

3) Re-gift Them

If you’re mulling over what to do with old stuffed animals, don’t be so quick to dismiss the idea of re-gifting. It goes without saying that worn-out teddies that have seen better days don’t qualify; but gently used stuffed animals that are in decent shape make great little gift fillers. Consider throwing one into a holiday or birthday gift bag along with the main present as a little something extra. Alternatively, you can organize a stuffed animal trade-off night with some friends. Get together and swap out one toy for another your kids will thank you when you come home with a basket of “new” toys!

4) Give Them to a Relief Organization

All it takes is turning on the local news to see that plenty of children are affected by catastrophes. From natural disasters to the recent refugee crisis, there are little ones all over who need our help. In addition to the obvious things like funds, food and water, stuffed animals also make for worthwhile donations. Displaced children or those who’ve been through a tragedy of some kind would likely appreciate something to cuddle.

5) Hand Them Down to your Pets

My miniature Dachshund was always a sucker for stuffed animals, especially when she was a puppy. Before chucking out ones your kids have outgrown, consider handing them down to your family pet. Just be sure to check for buttons, plastic pieces, or other accessories that could be hazardous to your furry pal.

6) Repurpose Them

If you’re a crafty do-it-yourself type, you might want to consider repurposing those old stuffed animals. A quick Pinterest search reveals tons of related DIY projects. This includes transforming an old teddy into a kid’s backpack. You can even create your own Easter baskets. Apartment Therapy also has no shortage of creative home decor projects you can whip up out of unused stuffed animals. The possibilities are endless.

The Benefits of Giving

Instilling generosity in our children is one of the most powerful things we can do as parents. And modeling this goes a lot farther than simply talking about it. It’s also something that comes naturally to kids. In fact, experts say that children have an innate desire to help others and show compassion. Why not nurture this impulse through active charitable giving?

When asking yourself what to do with old stuffed animals, look at it as an opportunity to make a difference in another child’s life. Make your own child part of the process by having them actively participate in the donation.

On the other side of the spectrum, children receiving a much-needed donation will benefit as well. Stuffed animals can help kids (especially infants) cope with difficult emotions. They also encourage self-soothing behavior and have even been shown to relieve trauma for kids who have been exposed to terror or war.

And the benefits don’t stop there. Experts say that playing with stuffed animals helps support the development of speech and language, as well as social skills. At the same time, they encourage empathy and compassion.

What will you be doing with your used stuffed animals?

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10 Ways to Celebrate Baby’s First Christmas

If this holiday season is also baby’s first Christmas, you’re in for a treatthere are tons of creative ways to celebrate the special occasion. Looking to commemorate this time of year as a family? Here’s a roundup of 10 imaginative ways to do just that.

Family Christmas Movie Night

For some, Christmas movies are the best part of the season. Gathering the family and snuggling up together to watch your favorite one is a great family tradition that can grow with your child through the years. For little ones who aren’t exactly movie-ready, use the opportunity to just be together. While mom and dad sip hot cocoa, baby can keep cozy on a soft stuffed animal mat as you make new memories.

Select a Special Stuffed Animal

From providing much-needed comfort to helping to develop blossoming social skills, stuffed animals are important companions for little ones. To celebrate baby’s first Christmas, mark the occasion by bringing a new cuddly friend into the family. Stuffed teddy bears are a great choice because they aren’t holiday-specific, which means that your baby can love on them all year long.

Create an Annual Ornament

In our house, decorating the family Christmas tree is a long-held family tradition that my 4- and 5-year-old daughters always look forward to (even if it usually means one or two broken ornaments!). Get baby in on the action by creating a special handmade decoration. Capturing their little footprints on a beautiful Christmas ornament is a lovely way to both decorate the tree and celebrate the occasion.

Create a Christmas Memory Book

One of the most special gifts I’ve ever received was a photo book my husband had custom-made for me. Inside were dozens of snapshots of our children growing through the years. Put a festive spin on the idea by creating a “Baby’s First Christmas” photo book. In addition to pictures, you can also include keepsakes like handwritten notes of your favorite memories.

Make a DIY Christmas Stocking

What’s Christmas without a stocking? Instead of going for a store-bought option, opt to create your own. From traditional to funky, there are endless creative ways to go about it. To dial it up, you can even make your own one-of-a-kind stocking hangers that can be switched out every year.

Take a Family Photo

Snapping family holiday photos is an amazing way to celebrate the season, especially if it’s baby’s first Christmas. It’s also a great way to show off your family’s unique personality. (One quick search on Pinterest reveals a treasure trove of photo optionsfrom super traditional to offbeat and out there.) As your child grows, these pictures can also be compiled into one big photo book that spans the years.

Pick Up Some Christmas Jammies

One of my favorite Christmas activities revolves around pajamas. Every Christmas Eve, my brother and sister and I round up all of our kids in matching Christmas pajamas for a group photo. It’s gradually become a quirky family tradition that we all love. If it’s your little one’s first Christmas, splurging on a special holiday-themed onesie or PJ set is a fun way to celebrate.

Choose the Perfect Christmas Tree as a Family

Selecting the best family Christmas tree doesn’t have to mean venturing out into the wilderness to cut one down yourself. Instead, visit a local farm or even a hardware store to choose your favorite tree. Baby can take in all the sensory detailsfrom the scent of fresh pine to the sparkle of twinkling lights.

Stock Up on Christmas Books

Interactive board books are a fantastic way to engage your little one while teaching them new things. One of my favorite traditions is taking my daughters to the bookstore to pick up a new Christmas book each year. For babies, consider creating your own book that features photos of family members.

Play in the Snow

Making a snowman from scratch is a surefire way to spread Christmas cheer. For babies, playing in the snow is also a wonderfully rich sensory experience. If you live in a warmer, snow-free climate, consider making your own.

Happy holidays!

 

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Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, many families (mine included) are starting to prep for the big day. But in between meal planning, figuring out seating arrangements, and finalizing travel plans, don’t forget that the holiday marks a wonderful season for hands-on activities with children.

Looking to keep your little ones entertained and engaged all season long? Here are a handful of Thanksgiving activities for kids that’ll teach them what the holiday’s really all about.

Family Volunteer Day

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than by giving your time and energy to a worthy cause. Children learn best by doing, and jumpstarting an altruistic tradition allows them to feel the joy of giving firsthand. A family volunteer day can be approached in a number of ways.

This time of year is especially known for toy drives. Since helping a child in need is a great way to teach your little one about empathy and generosity, let your kid take the lead. Invite them to select a special toy (either one they’ve outgrown or a new one) to be given to a less fortunate child. A stuffed animal blanket, like one of our Lil Snugglers, makes an ideal gift for infants and toddlers because they’re often adopted as “lovey” objects (also known as soothing transitional objects). If your child is big enough to say goodbye to their Lil Snuggler lovey, letting them pass it onto someone who needs it can be a powerful moment of growth and generosity.

Whip Up Some Thanksgiving Treats

Thanksgiving is a time when families pull out all the stops in the kitchen. Get your child involved by having them prepare an age-appropriate part of the big dinner. In our house, no-bake peanut butter pie has been a big hit with our 4- and 5-year-old little chefs. This year, I’ve got my eye on these turkey Rice Krispie treats.

For after-dinner coffee or hot cocoa, your child can also easily create their own Thanksgiving-themed mugs. This is a fun and easy craft we’ve done in the past for Father’s Dayall you need are some Sharpies and an oven. Just one word of advice: if you don’t trust your kiddos with permanent markers, do this project one-on-one style to avoid a mess.

Create Seasonal Crafts

No home is complete without some Thanksgiving decorations! Getting crafty is super-easy, especially with kids. Take a nature walk, collecting fall-colored autumn leaves, pinecones and acorns. With the help of some googly eyes and glue, these free supplies can be transformed into pinecone turkeys. Another great (and educational) Thanksgiving activity that drives home the holiday’s message is to make gratitude trees. Making a tree of thanks is an excellent way for your child to identify and share the things for which they’re most grateful. To spruce up your dining table, kiddos can also easily create their own Thanksgiving-themed centerpieces.

Play Interactive Family Games

The holidays are a time to come together as a family. Take advantage of it by encouraging some interactive family fun! Animal puppets are a unique way to dial up the imaginative thinking and dramatic play. Families can create their own kid-centered Thanksgiving stories with these cuddly guys, getting everyone in on the action.

In our house, seasonal bingo is another popular game. Print up some Thanksgiving-themed cards and have at it. You can even use candy corn as the bingo tokens, which will definitely motivate the kids even more. To put an educational twist on it, create cards that emphasize the beginning sounds of Thanksgiving words, or cards that spell out the words instead of using picture aids (whatever’s appropriate for your kids).

Another way to get the whole family moving after dessert is to play a round of gratitude scavenger hunt or a quick turkey baster relay. What counts is making fun memories together as a family.

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It”s that time of year again; the kids are heading back to school! If you”re a seasoned pro with older children, you know the routine. But for younger kiddos who are heading off to school for the first time, kicking off the school year can be a scary transition. With one daughter entering pre-K and […]

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What to Pack for a Family Road Trip

Heading off on a vacation this summer? For most families, skipping expensive airfare and opting to drive makes a lot more financial sense. In addition to keeping more cash in your pocket, road trips are also an opportunity to create new memories together as a family (while making pit stops at cool destinations along the […]

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5 Fun Summer Activities for Children

Temperatures are up, barbeques are out, and beaches are packed—in other words, summer is in full swing. It also means that the kiddos are out of school and home all season long. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or you work full time, keeping your kids both entertained and stimulated during the summer months can be […]

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5 Easy DIY Pet Costumes for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching! Are your furry family members ready for the big day? We’re not sure how you feel, but to us there’s not much cuter (or hilarious) than a pet in costume. I mean, if they’ll cooperate with the shenanigans of dressing, staying still for the perfect photo op, why not? The cuteness […]

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