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How to organize videos and DVDs

Organizing your videotapes and DVDs can be a real challenge. Expert organizer Debbie Williams offers you some proven ideas to get it together!

The question:
We have a lot of videotapes and DVDs, and the kids take them all over the place, and we even lose the boxes. How can we organize them and keep them safe? – Kirsten, Florida

The Organizing Expert Answers:
Dear Kirsten,

This is an excellent question, and one that is shared by many a frustrated parent. There are several ways to keep your tapes and DVDs safe and sound, and even have a record of what you have. Use the 5 C’s to help you remember a few quick and easy organizing tricks to maintain your family’s video collection:

Consolidate: Call the kids and have a video-gathering party. Keep all your videotapes and DVDs together rather than spread out so that you can find what you need when you need it.

Containerize: Make a home for your video collection, preferably in a cabinet with doors. Keep your videos near your VCR/DVD player so that you don’t have to waste time searching for movies when the kids are getting restless for a movie.

If this is not possible, buy an inexpensive rack from a discount store to store your family’s videos. Or make one from a bookcase or scrap lumber. Paint to match your room’s décor, and you now have a custom video cabinet! Create a door by hanging a shirred curtain on a tension rod. Clearly Label: Try to keep all videos and DVDs in their protective sleeves or plastic cases. It protects the tapes and disks from dust and busy fingers. To supplement your missing cases, you can buy plastic cases on sale from discount or video rental stores. They’re well worth the small price you pay to preserve your collection. Use a marker or labels to put the title of the movie on the spine or edge of the VHS tape. (If your disks are not labeled, use care when writing on a DVD — both the upper and lower surfaces are important to it playing correctly. Don’t write with a sharp pen, or a solvent-based one. Use special DVD/CD pens or special self-stick labels.)

Categorize: Although it sounds like a fairy tale, you really can set up and maintain categories for your tape collection that can be used by the smallest of users. Sort your family’s videos by categories: cartoons, Disney movies, educational tapes, etc.

Until your children are able to read, use color to label the tapes or DVD boxes. Colored permanent markers, dots or stickers denote video genres: RED for adults only (PG & R ratings), PURPLE for cartoons, BLUE for Disney features, YELLOW for educational films, ORANGE for home movies (I added this one because inevitably a movie is left in the VCR and recorded over!). These color categories are just an example — get the kids to help you create the colors and help with the sorting. They’ll never know it’s a math lesson in sorting and classifying while they’re having fun.

Create an inventory: Your collection of videos has rapidly grown to include quite a number of costly tapes. Make a handwritten list or use a computer spreadsheet to log each video you own: title, purchase price, and date of purchase. Store this in a safe place with your insurance records, and update on a regular basis, perhaps each quarter. The inventory not only provides you with a household record of your collection, but also helps at birthday and Christmas time when Grandma asks which Disney film to buy the kids this year.

In summary, by creating a home for your movie collection, you will diminish the clutter in your home, save time searching for a favorite tape, and reduce the risk of little hands unraveling shiny film or scratching the silvery surface of a DVD. The kids will help you with the clean up and maintenance of their videos, taking pride in the care of their belongings. But best of all, you won’t be in a frequent state of panic when the baby’s screaming, Sissy needs quiet time, and Bubba refuses to potty train.

I’m not recommending that videos should replace quality time or parental supervision, but in the course of a parent’s busy life, they sure can help in a pinch.

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