There’s nothing better on these cold, rainy fall nights than sitting on the floor by the fireplace and playing a board game as a family. With young kids that are always on the move, it feels particularly special to spend quiet time connecting over a little friendly competition, discussing strategy, and learning about good sportsmanship.
But goodness, board games take up A LOT of space! In a small home, it’s challenging to find a place to store all the different sized game boxes. And let me tell you, I’m just not a fan of looking at mismatched, brightly colored boxes haphazardly piled on a shelf. I’ve been looking for good storage solutions for years.
I’ve seen a lot of professional organizers use zippered bags or pouches to store and organize board games. It seemed like a great space-saving solution, but I had reservations.
Mainly, it felt wrong to take them out of the boxes….and throw the box away. I’m such a rule follower that I just couldn’t do it. What if I regretted it? What if I hate storing them in bags? They were already in nice boxes, did they really need another container?
Since I was so conflicted, I chose to keep them in boxes for many years.
However, this past summer we ended up getting 8 board games from a game shop going out of business and quickly surpassed our available storage space. I either had to find a different storage solution or I had to get rid of some games. We just couldn’t store them all.
I decided I’d rather use (and use up) the games than store them in pristine condition with the thought of reselling later. Because yes, I might be able to make a tiny amount of money selling at a consignment sale, but most likely I’d just donate or give to friends. In which case I’m hoping the labeled bag should be sufficient.
When it comes down to it, if I’m going to keep board games, I want to make sure we actually play them. There is no use storing and organizing things we don’t actually use!
And honestly, I shouldn’t have been worried. It was fairly quick and easy and made a nice box of games for our family to enjoy.
If you are looking to do the same, here’s how to quickly transfer your games to bags:
Choose a location and a basket or bin that can accommodate the games. Check dimensions of your shelf or cabinet and find a container that maximizes the space you have. Decorative baskets can conceal the games while looking nice on a shelf or console table in a living room. These bags would also fit nicely in a cube storage unit in a playroom or closet.
(2) Bags or Pouches
Pick up some plastic zippered pouches from Amazon. I went with A4 letter size at 13.5″ by 9.5″. These are fairly inexpensive and come in all different dimensions and styles.
I’d suggest buying the largest size that will fit in your container. You want the bag big enough to hold the board and all the pieces that go with the game. Bonus points if you take out each board and measure to ensure they fit. I should have done this BEFORE I purchased my bags (as you’ll see later…)
Grab your label maker or scissors and packing tape. You will want to label these as you are placing items in bags so that you don’t forget which game is which.
Any label maker would work nicely, but I chose to use my Brother P-Touch Label Maker PTD600. I wanted larger labels that were easy to see and read, with the option of putting words on two lines.
This label maker allows formatting on two lines, which I took advantage of for this project. I was able to use a larger font for the main game name and a smaller font for additional details. For example, Cranium in large font with “Junior” below in a smaller font.
If you don’t have a label maker, don’t worry! These pouches look equally great with the game name cut out of the box and taped on to the bag. Use clear packing tape to make sure you have a good seal on the label.
Take all pieces, board, and instructions out of the game box and place in a pouch. There may be pieces that go with the game that aren’t essential and therefore don’t need to be included.
Take Pictionary Bend-A-Clues as an example. The giant green plastic piece was designed to hold the cards and the tubes while you are playing. However, it was extremely bulky and not needed for actual gameplay. I was able to throw this away and just keep the tubes, cards, and timer in the bag, which saved a good amount of space.
(5) Recycle & Trash
Now that all your games have been transferred to labeled bags, you will be left with a large stack of empty boxes. Break down the boxes and recycle if possible and throw away any plastic pieces.
Now, I’m not going to lie, this step was really hard for me! Again it felt wrong to get rid of them for good. I actually kept the empty boxes in my garage for 2 weeks before I decided (1) this system will work for us and (2) it is ok to let the boxes go.
(6) Enjoy the games!
You should now have a nice set of board games organized in labeled pouches. I like to file these in the felt bin to make it easy to flip through and find the game we want to play. The whole bin fits neatly on a shelf in our built-ins and is easy to carry around the house if we are looking to play a game in another room.
So now that these are all in bags, what do we think? Is it worth the effort to decant these? Do I regret taking these out of boxes?
Let’s look at the pros and cons.
- I still have more games than will fit in one felt bin. Ideally, I’d prefer to store all games together, rather than spread across the house. Since there is no way I can fit all my games in this bin, I decided to limit the board games to kid games. All of our adult games (like Settlers of Catan) got moved to a large plastic bin in the garage.
- Some of the board games didn’t fit into the pouches. The spinner for Twister and the board for Sorry were just a few inches too long. Some games, like Jenga, need the box for setup or gameplay and are not good candidates for bags. My takeaway from this is 1) buy the biggest pouches you can and 2) expect that some games just won’t fit. I’ve decided I’m just going to accept that some games will be stored in a bedroom closet and some in the felt bin.
- And finally, I’ve noticed that the zippered bags tend to get a bit wrinkled. Structurally, they are still solid, but everyday use leads to a crinkly appearance, especially at the corners. This can be smoothed out, but the bags don’t look the same as they did out of the box.
- As you can see, it allows us to store quite a few games in a really small space. By removing the bulky boxes and plastic inserts, we were able to store more games in a smaller footprint.
- I really like the zippered bags. They are durable, reusable, and easy to see through. The labels stick easily and they file nicely in the felt bin. And at under a dollar a bag, they won’t break the bank.
- I think the games look nicer organized in matching bags instead of mismatched boxes. Some of our boxes were in bad shape and I was happy to tranfer the games into another container.
- The zippered pouches are easier for my young kids to open than game boxes. This also means it’s easier for them to put away on their own (!!!) which is a major win.
- The felt bin is stored in a low cabinet, which puts the games at eye level for the kids. This makes the games incredibly easy for my kids to access and even the toddler can reach in a pull out a game. We now find ourselves reaching for a board game in the evening instead of other activities. And as the kids get older, I can see us adding and removing games as interests and ages change.
When all is said and done, this really is a great solution for storing board games in small spaces. We love having easy access to our games and our cabinet looks much more organized than it did before. It’s honestly the only way I can keep as many game as I have.
What are your favorite board games for family game night? I’d love any suggestions for must-haves that we might be missing!