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Tips from the Trade: How to Store Hand Me Downs

Parenting is a learning experience, and one that takes time and practice to figure out. For example, when you have your first child, no expense is spared. Outfits are bought for every occasion; you think nothing of spending a small fortune on a wardrobe that will fit for a solid four weeks (they'll never be that age again!). Then child number 2 comes along, and jumping on all of those new outfits seems, well, frivolous. And every subsequent child that arrives? Forget it. You can consider the day a success if you manage to throw together a summer camp t-shirt, some neon leggings, and a pair of mismatched socks.

There is another option, though. And it's one we can really get behind. Instead of slowly going broke on children's trend fashions, stock up on children's classics that won't ever go out of style like traditional girls' smocked dresses and boys' shortalls. That's right, we're talking about hand-me-downs.

But like with any brilliant idea, hand-me-downs sound great in theory, but take some work in mastering. Because let's face it - it's not super easy to keep clothing in like-new condition through the years. Luckily, we've got some tips.

1. Start by Washing Everything. Never ever put any hand-me-downs away for storage without thoroughly washing all articles of clothing beforehand. Stains - even tiny ones - can set and become impossible to get out if left for too long. Washing also helps prevent moths and other types of pests.

2. Fold and Stack Clothing. Once everything is freshly laundered, fold clothing and stack to flatten clothing. If you prefer, you can also add a sheet of acid-free tissue paper in between each piece of clothing. This also helps ward off moths, and if you use them between the folds in the clothing, it helps get rid of creases.

3. Get Organized. In order to store hand-me-downs in a way that won't make you want to pull your hair out when you're looking for a specific piece of clothing, start by splitting clothing into four groups: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. If you have a large amount of hand-me-downs in each category, further break down the groups by size. Use small plastic boxes (these are better at keeping mothers away) to organize the groups of clothes by size. Once each box containing similar sized clothing for each season is grouped together, label the boxes with the season and size, like this: "Spring - 3T". Then, use larger plastic boxes to store all of the smaller boxes. These should be labeled by season.

When you finish, you should be left with four boxes: one for each season that holds all of your organized-by-size hand me downs for your little ones.

4. Seal and Store the Containers. Before popping the lids on the individual boxes, place a piece of acid-free tissue paper on top of your stack of hand me downs, and top it off with a small bag of cedar chips as one last barrier against pests. Clothing should always be kept away from sunlight and extreme heat, so leaving in closets and packing boxes under a bed are generally good ideas.

And when Springtime finally rolls around, pop open your box full of Spring hand me downs, and let your little one pick out their new wardrobe.

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