Free Your Space: Beach toys and other seasonal stuff

My family and I just returned from vacation. We had packed well yet there were still some items that we found ourselves wanting. For instance, although we brought several bottles of sun lotion, we decided that a higher SPF was required than we had originally planned. Also, we didn’t realize that the mosquitoes at our destination would be quite so voracious.

Conveniently, our host resort knew exactly what we (and every other family) would be needing and carried it all right there on the premises… for extremely over-inflated prices.

We decided that it was worth taking a short taxi ride into town to purchase the extra supplies. What we found was that, not only did the items cost less than half the resort prices, but also that some were bundled with other goodies – like a pail and shovel that came with bottles of sun lotion. The savings was so great that my 23-year-old daughter and I left with our supplies, happily swinging our new toys beside us.

Before we left the resort on our last day, I took what was left of our 3 bug spray bottles and strolled by the information desk as, coincidentally, 3 people were making inquiries. I interrupted to ask if anyone needed bug spray and laughed as a resounding chorus of “yes!” erupted from all three. The little girls to whom we gifted our pails & shovels seemed delighted by their unanticipated new toys.

The experience reminded me of the little trays that can be found at many convenience stores. The ones that recommend “Take a penny, leave a penny”. Sometimes you need just a little extra and, at other times, you just don’t.

There are many various similar opportunities that you can look for throughout the year to share or pass-on occasionally used items. Here are some ideas:

Beach or Pool: Have you ever gone to the beach and forgotten to bring toys for the kids? Visit the Lost & Found. There are always items that have been left behind. Let your kids know that you are “borrowing” them for the day and will return them when you leave.

Prom: Prom dresses can be so costly and are worn a handful of times at most. Encourage your daughters and granddaughters to pass on their dress and make room in their closets for what they love to wear every day. Visit to find a location to donate.

Weddings: similar to the prom dress. If you know that the bride or bridesmaid gown is not something your kids or you would use ever again, while it is still in style and in good condition, consider either consigning it or visit and donate it so a U.S. military bride can get a free wedding dress!

Power Tools: Wish you had a power-washer, table saw, leaf blower or snow plow? Consider teaming up with neighbors to invest in one of each for the block. You’ll all save by sharing the storage space, cost and maintenance. Be sure to write out a clear agreement as to the shared ownership, usage and costs, or visit to learn how to start a tool co-op.

Some things we use are only needed for a short while and some others, like the pail and shovel, are bonuses that aren’t needed at all. Instead of filling your home with things that you may or may not ever use someday, make yourself part of the ebb and flow of life. Take a penny, leave a penny.

* To contact Annette Reyman for organizing work, professional unpacking, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements in the Greater Philadelphia area call (610) 213-9559 or email her at Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and President of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter. Visit her website at and follow All Right Organizing on Facebook.



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