To tote or toss hand-me-downs?

To toss or tote logo graphic

What do I do with all my hand-me-downs?


This is a question that I’ve been asked probably more times than I can count. It’s taken a few years to finally find a routine that’s not only simple, but works. And with a little added bonus for the ones I decide to ‘toss’.

I come from a large family, with brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews so I’m super grateful that my kids always have clothes. The down side to so many clothes is that they once took over our entire basement, plus an extra room or two. We’re talking Gap, Old, Navy, J Crew, Nike- really, really nice clothes. Having such nice, name brand clothes given to us- for nothing, makes it hard to get rid of them before actually wearing them.

The problem with some of our clothes is that they’re at least 4 years away from some of these sizes. That’s nearly 5 years of having to keep these clothes around. Whether that be in their rooms, our attic, the basement, garage- taking up space basically. And space is one thing that we do not have a ton of being a family of 6 in a four bedroom house.

Aside from the fact that clothes cost money, most of us hold emotion with our children’s clothes. We remember what they were doing when they were wearing them, a birthday, a trip to the zoo. This is a common thing. We love our babies, want to hold on to each and every memory, especially the ones we have of them when they were younger, essentially causing a huge pile up of clothes and us wondering what to do with them when they begin to get out of hand.

Granted there’s usually always a handful of clothes that we refuse to get rid of- the first outfit ever worn, the outfit they came home in from the hospital, first birthday- those sort of things. More often than not though these are kept in a tote somewhere never to be seen or remembered again for years to come.


Pink baby clothes



But what about all the other clothes? And the years and years of clothes after those?


Over the past few years I’ve come to learn the awesomeness of consignment shops and sales. A consignment shop is one that pays a percentage for your articles of clothing or toys or baby gear after it’s sold. Uh, amazing right?

After years of keeping tons, and I mean 10-20 size bags of clothes yet to be worn in my basement, I couldn’t take it anymore. I literally had to crawl over mounds of clothes which truthfully I had no idea what I even had anymore.

Being a minimalist at heart, too much of anything drives me insane and clothes were by far the worst for us. Between hand-me-downs, birthdays, Christmas we had clothes coming out of our ears. I could basically run a store of previously worn clothes in almost any kid’s size available. It was time to start finding a solution.



So, to toss or tote hand-me-downs?


I keep only the next size up of clothes for each child.

For example, my son is currently wearing a size 5- therefore I only keep a box of size 6 clothes for him, both summer and winter clothes.

This leaves only a box of clothes that I don’t have to buy for next year (size 6) and essentially a box of cash, which is his old clothes that no longer fit (size 4) in totes.

It’s really that simple.

These clothes are always being cycled from one size to another. Time for amassing such huge, useless piles of clothes no longer exists in my basement. Praise the Lord!


Hand me down cycle


Here’s how…


Over the past few years I’ve come to learn the awesomeness of consignment shops and sales. A consignment shop is one that pays a percentage for your articles of clothing or toys or baby gear after it’s sold. Uh, amazing right?

My first year I was less than prepared and just kind of through whatever I had laying around and kept way more than I should have. The second year was a different story. Our local consignment sale does a HUGE sale in the spring and one in the fall. The spring consignment sale is where we can sale all of our spring and summer clothes and all of our cold weather clothes at the fall sale and in return buy what my kids may need for that season.

Consigning gives us the opportunity for a little extra cash for anything they may need clothes wise. This is my bonus for sorting and getting rid of clothes that no longer serve us a purpose or are too far away from doing so. Tossing sizes that are 2+ years away from being worn are only in my way for far too long. Once joining a local sale or shop you’ll be able to always stay one step ahead of the game.

Not only are consignment shops great for all the kid’s clothes but most of them accept women’s and men’s clothing as well!


clothes rack



Are consignment shops really worth it?


A common misconception about these sales is the worry of getting ripped off and truthfully, clothes don’t resell all that well anywhere. For instance, a garage sale- we’ve had these before and most people want everything for nothing. I’ve had people turn away from a perfect, nearly new brand name pair of jeans for $3 because they were ‘too much’. Don’t be afraid that if you have nice decent, brand name clothes that you’ll be losing money by consigning them. Most consignment shops offer more money for brand name and newer clothes. They always seem to be pretty fair as far as pricing goes. This is the most profitable way I’ve yet to find. Overly the last 3 years I’ve earned close to $1,500- just by purging my basement of clothes that were just sitting there.

Another common concern of these sales is quality. This was a fear of mine. Was I going to find old, stained, ripped clothes in exchange for my nice clothes and the answer is usually no. Most people are also pretty fair with what they consign and don’t waste their time on organizing, hanging and pricing something that isn’t going to sale. They want to make money just as much as you do. This essentially makes most of the clothes pretty nice and easy to find something awesome for next to nothing.

Maybe you don’t have a local consignment shop in your area, whether it be a goodwill, local shelter, a garage sale- there’s always a better answer than a tote of clothes that are no longer being worn. Hand me downs can without a doubt become out of hand. Keeping only the next size up of clothes for each child has continued to work with success for our family and allows us to invest in any other clothes they may need. No more mounds of clothes and so many bags that I’m not even sure what’s in there anymore. For more ideas on ways to purge clothes and other things, check out my post Purgatory of Minimalism- The fundamentals of decluttering.


The fundamentals of decluttering
Purgatory of Minimalism


Don’t be afraid to toss, or tote hand-me-downs and start cycling sizes. They’ll do a lot more good on someone else’s back.


2 thoughts on “To tote or toss hand-me-downs?

  1. I’m not a mom but i could only imagine what it feels like to giveaway clothes that you’ve seen your child wear often as a little one. Consignment shops and thrift stores are becoming the best places to shop nowadays! Thanks for sharing.

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