Learn how to organize, store, declutter, and keep up with all your board games, card games, and tiny pieces with this all-in-one board game organization guide. Updated May 2021
If you’re a mom, you’ve probably got stacks on stacks on stacks of board games in your house. These games are great for kiddos to be creative and build teamwork skills, plus they’re a lifesaver to keep your Littles occupied when you need an hour to catch up on some decluttering projects. But when it comes to storing all those games, we moms tend to take the easy way out. We stack them all up in the floor of a closet and hope that the kids put all the pieces back inside the last time they played.
Here’s your project for the weekend, and the kiddos can even help out with it. You’re going to *finally* go through all those games, downsize your stash, and organize them so you won’t cringe every time your son asks to break out the Game Of Life because setup seems to take thirty minutes of sifting through a hot mess of cards and tiny people.
My Board Game Organization Method
What You Need:
- Zip-top bags in a few different sizes. I used sandwich, snack, and freezer.
- Post-It Notes (this set is SO cute!)
- A cheap box of pre-sharpened pencils
- Packing tape
- A heavy duty donation bin/box
- A glass of wine (optional, but you’ll want it)
Round Them Up
Start by gathering up all the board games in your house and putting them all together in one spot, like the living room floor or the dining room table. Gather the adult games, the kid games, the ones stuffed under the beds, and the ones in that random hall closet that you always forget about. If you come across a game you no longer want or your kids have outgrown, go ahead and put it in your donation bin now.
If a game box has been ripped around one of the corners, tape it back up to prevent further damage. And if the box is pretty much obliterated, pop the contents in a clear lidded container from the dollar store and label the side and top.
Prep Each Game Box
One by one, go through each game box and do these things:
1. Check for missing pieces. If a piece can be replaced with a similar household item, go ahead and do that. If it can’t, and it causes the game to be unplayable, add that game to the donation center bin. People often shop for partial games at thrift stores for cheap replacement parts to games they already own.
2. Put small pieces and cards in zip-top sandwich baggies. This keeps everything separated and makes setup and cleanup SO much easier. Especially if you store your games vertically instead of flat. Nobody wants to bother setting up Monopoly when all the money and cards are in a big jumbled pile inside the box.
3. Add pencils and paper if the game requires them. I like to stock up on those cheap 24pk boxes of pencils when they go on sale in the fall. I keep them inside each game box that needs a pencil so I never have to go search for them before we can start playing. It’s so nice to have them on hand and ready for gameplay.
4. Put a post-it note on the inside of the game box lid with today’s date on it. More than likely, a lot of the games you have don’t even get played. This is an easy hack to figure that out. More on this later. But for now, just put the date on the post-it and move on to the next box.
5. Replace the box if it’s damaged or won’t close all the way. You can buy lidded plastic containers to hold games lacking original boxes. These containers are actually way more sturdy than the box they came in anyway. Just don’t forget to label them.
This is another biggie, especially if you have kids in different age ranges. When I’m working with clients who have lots of board games, I always categorize their games into groups. In my own house, I organize by color and type, mainly because I usually know what color a game box is and this method makes it easy for me to find what I’m looking for. In the past, I have organized games by type, so family games went on one shelf, party games went on another, and card games went in a basket. I recommend experimenting to find out what works best for you and your family.
Store In A Central Location
Whether you plan to keep all the games stored in the same place or in multiple places like playrooms and bedrooms, make sure you keep them in a spot that is easily accessible by everyone in the house. Try to avoid top shelves because if a kiddo tries to get the game down and drops it, you’re going to have a big fat mess on your hands. Especially if the game was Kerplunk and now you’re picking up a ton of skinny sticks and marbles that somehow rolled down the stairs and into the bathroom.
More On Missing Pieces
If you love the game but are missing pieces, don’t trash it and buy a whole new game. Here’s some creative (and free) alternatives you can use:
- Replace pawns with thimbles, lids from dried up markers, expired lipstick tubes, mini action figures, a penny, or even curled pipe cleaners.
- Replace game cards with handmade ones. If you’re missing a character from Clue, let a kid create a new character to take their place. She can draw the character, give them a name, and create a cool new card for it altogether. This is actually really fun for kids, so they may end up wanting to replace ALL the characters.
- Buy a $3 10 pack of dice from Amazon to keep on-hand just in case one gets lost. It’s always nice to keep some extra. Plus they’re really cheap.
- Scorecards can be downloaded for free online and printed at home. If you just used up your last Yahtzee card and don’t want to drive to the store at 8pm on a Friday, just print a few copies for now until you can restock.
The Post-It Note Method
Remember when I said to put a post-it note with today’s date in the lid of every game? Here’s the hack:
Every time you play a game, you’ll cross out the date on the post-it note and write the new date underneath. After a full year has gone by, go through your games again and check the post-its. If you find a game that has only been played once, or not at all, you’ll have a clear indicator it’s probably worth just giving away.
As soon as you finish adding all the post-it notes to your boxes, go ahead and set a reminder in the calendar in your phone for one year from now. You’ll definitely have forgotten by then, so when your phone pings, you’ll remember to do a quick little check-n-purge.
Speaking Of Donating Games…
Before you load up all your unwanted board games and ship them off to a thrift store so they can resell them and make a profit from your donation, consider taking games that are still in good condition and fully stocked to a local facility that could really use it.
Here’s some “better” places to donate board games:
- Nursing Homes
- Daycare and After-School Care Centers
- Senior Centers
- Homeless Shelters
- Rehabilitation Centers
Board Game Storage
When it comes to finding places to store board games, sometimes this can get a little tricky. Game boxes are pretty awkward, and usually they’re all different sizes. You can stack them on shelves or stand them up vertically to make them easier to grab and go (just make sure the contents are all in zip-bags).
We keep our games right out in the open on a hutch in our basement “man cave” now. But at our old house we kept them inside the hutch (photo above) in our living room. A lot of my clients end up choosing to keep their games in a hall closet or playroom, which also works great. If you’re short on space, it’s totally okay to keep them under a bed, too.
Time For A Challenge!
Now that you’ve got tons of inspiration and you know exactly how to organize your board games, it’s time to put your new knowledge to the test. Right now, I want you to go grab any board game you’d like, and a handful of plastic baggies, and separate the pieces and cards into categories. Then put them back in the box neatly and add a Post-It note in the lid with today’s date.
Whether you organize one game or all of them, just taking that first step is going to make you feel SO good! And you’ll feel even better when you break out Monopoly and it doesn’t take you 15 minutes to sort through that jumbled mess. Ready? And… GO!