Can Collectors Be Minimalists? What I Learnt From Reducing my Doll Collection.

If you think it is difficult to live a #MinimalistLifestyle while maintaining a doll collection, you are mistaken! Being a minimalist isn’t about living with “nothing but the essentials,” but instead about reducing your possessions to “things you love.” Or, according to the Kon Mari Method, things that “spark joy.” Which is basically the same thing!

So yes, you can totally collect something while still being minimalist in other areas. For example, if you are an avid gamer who likes collecting video games, it’s totally fine to keep those games -they’re apart of your personality! And the same goes for dolls, of course.

If you’re looking to reduce your doll collection, you’ve come to the right place! Perhaps you are moving houses, perhaps you don’t have anymore storage space, or perhaps you’ve just realised that you have WAY TOO MUCH STUFF!

Here are my best tips:


1.) Set a limit on body donors

Before I reduced my collection, I had HEAPS of Fashionista bodies in a big box, all with different skintones and varying degrees of flexibility. If you have a similar problem, quickly go through this checklist to reduce the number of body donors:

a.) If you have a doll with a regular body, swap it onto the Fashionista body until there are no more regular bodies left. Still have spare Fashionista bodies? Continue with the checklist!

b.) Go through the leftover Fashionista bodies and check the joints are all in working order. After awhile, joints in the arms and knees sometimes go “floppy” and they won’t stay in position by themselves. If you have any of these bodies, put them on the donate pile!

c.) Set a limt! Perhaps ten Artsy Fashionista bodies is a little “too” many, don’t you think? Set limits for yourself, for example “I’m only keeping two bodies with the same skin tone.” You really don’t need to keep lots of lots of bodies if they are the exact same.

d.) Consider the cost of buying a brand-new Made to Move body, vs keeping a body “just in case.” After all, keeping lots of body donors takes up a lot of storage space, doesn’t it? Perhaps you’d be better off getting rid of ALL your body donors, and just buying a new articulated body when you need it.

e.) On the same note, if you have lots of spare heads, just get rid of them! Nobody wants to buy a floating head.


2.) Don’t keep something just because it’s “rare”

For many years, I kept things just because they were “rare,” “special” or “hard-to-find.” If this is the only reason you are keeping something, and it’s not adding joy to your life, perhaps it’s time to let it go.

An example of this is my old Happy Family Doctor playset. This set is very expensive and rare on eBay, and I often would receive excited comments on my social media. “Oh my gosh, you have this rare playset! You are so lucky!” and so on. This made me feel like I should keep it, even if I didn’t really use it.

I am also a big fan of the Happy Family series, and I thought it would be very nice to have everything from the collection. One day, I realised “how silly is that? It’s just marketing. Mattel wants me to collect the whole set, even though I don’t need it, that’s how they make their money!”

And it’s true. If you are keeping something JUST to complete a set, then you don’t need it! Sure, you can line everything up and say “wow, I bought the whole collection!” but after that? When time passes and everything is packed away in storage, it’s just taking up space!

live in the dreamhouse 055

3.) Throw away old packaging

I’m really into graphic design, and as such, I’m a big sucker for pretty packaging. I used to keep many doll boxes (without the dolls in them!) just because I liked the pictures. If you’re also guilty of this, follow my tips below:

a.) If boxed dolls are taking up a lot of space, consider deboxing them, if you feel comfortable doing so. A fun bonus of this is that you can change their clothes and pose them, and you can display them on a shelf much easier.

b.) If you really like the packaging on the outside of the box, cut it out and stick it into a notebook. You can also include information such as the price, date of purchase, what clothing and accessories the doll came with and whatever else you want to include. This’ll become a handy reference for later, and one notebook takes up a lot less space.

c.) If you like the stock image on the outside of the box, cut it out and reuse it! It can easily become a poster in Barbie’s bedroom, the picture on the TV screen, or maybe an advertisement on the street.

d.) Take a photo of the packaging and then throw the actual box away. This also works for sentimental, human-sized items, like drawings, letters, birthday cards and the like.


4.) How often do you actually use it?

For many years, I kept my doll campervan because “hey, I might want to do a camping storyline one day!” As you can guess, I never ended up doing a camping storyline, so it was silly to keep this for so long “just in case.” The campervan was bulky, broken, faded and in terrible condition! (Not to mention, there are much nicer campervans on the market today!)

To test yourself, move a bag of rarely-used items out of sight for a few months. If you haven’t wondered “hey, where’s that thing gone?” then you probably don’t need to keep it! I have donated at least a hundred times and very often I have completely forgotten what I used to own.

That being said… 

Of course you don’t have to donate things purely because you don’t use them -for example, I never use my Barbie: The Princess and the Pauper (2004) Erika and Anneliese dolls, but they are particularly valuable and special to me, so I am still holding onto them. It’s up to you to make the decision whether something is “special enough to keep” or not.


5.) Be careful about what you buy.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought a playset just for the doll!

This is really bad! You need to stop doing this! Firstly, it’s a huge waste of money to buy a whole playset just for one doll, or one furniture item, and secondly, you are probably going to end up keeping the whole playset, aren’t you?

If you struggle with impulse purchases, try to set yourself a challenge -no buying a new doll for ___ amount of time! This could be one month, or it could be one year, whatever you feel works for you. Instead of buying brand-new items, buy a pack of scrapbook paper, or a hot glue gun, so you can make yourself lots of DIY things. It’s much more fun to decorate a homemade house than to unbox a new doll, isn’t it?

Okay, so that’s my tips! Through minimising my dolly world, I’ve learnt that unless you go overboard, donating things IS GOOD! By having less, I am able to appreciate things more! I am able to create deeper storylines and develop my characters more. I am able to become more resourceful by DIYing clothes and furniture for my dolls. And most of all, I have lots of storage space now!

One word of caution… When selling your dolls, set your expectations LOW! I have sold many, many rare and expensive items for a fraction of their cost. If you are selling things to the everyday consumer, they aren’t going to care about release dates, or “rare” dolls, or anything like that! Please don’t expect things to sell for high prices like on eBay, because otherwise you will be very disappointed. Remember -the goal is not to make a profit, it is to rid yourself of excess things!

What are your best tips for reducing your collection? Is there anything you’re struggling with at the moment?




7 thoughts on “Can Collectors Be Minimalists? What I Learnt From Reducing my Doll Collection.

  1. Interesting post! My husband and I just did a massive clear out of stuff in our entire house. It took months. We donated boxes and boxes and bags and more bags of clothes, dishes, coffee cups (are we ever really going to have several dozen people over for coffee/tea simultaneously?), knick-knacks, books, and a few dolls. I’m always buying two dolls at a time – one that is articulated and one that isn’t but I like the face. I now, for the first time, have a box of body donors that I bought used on eBay and dolls that I will eventually give to charity. But believe it or not – the reason for the clear-out was to make enough room in the house for my doll room! LOL!!!
    PS I was inspired to try doing the opposite of your last post – instead of making a topknot/bun on a doll’s head, I tried to take it down and fix her hair, didn’t like the result, gave her a haircut, butchered it completely, and now have a useless ugly doll. She’s in the body donor basket… I told you I was a lousy dolly hairdresser!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I did the exact same thing the other day! My haircut skills leave much to be desired! I don’t understand how people can cut fringes on dolls and not have the hair stick up everywhere… Congratulations on clearing out all that stuff! I always worry that I might get rid of something important, but honestly, I haven’t missed a single thing I have donated. Bonus: it’s easier to keep clean!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Awesome post! I’ve never actually gotten rid of any dolls. I’m to scared to re-body any dolls, because I bought this super old barbie from an OP shop, but her previous owner(s) had played with her so much that when I washer her head rolled off and I can’t get it back on. I’m scared I’ll happen again and it all seems so hard that I’m not doing it. SO I only have fifty-something dolls, a McDonald’s car. And I don’t have enough clothes for all my dolls, so their are so spares.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that’s happened to me before too! It’s really annoying because their head just wobbles around on top and it doesn’t quite stay still. You have to be really careful when rebodying -I have broken lots of dolls in the past!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Holly! I love Mari Kondo’s book. I am just starting my Barbie collecting in earnest. Over the past year my doll family has tripled! Tidying up my home and my life helped me realize how much pleasure and joy I get out of my Barbies–dressing them up, posing and photographing them. I’ve even dabbled in mini movies 🙂 I am selective–most of the time, in my purchases. I did, however, buy the animal doctor play set just for the tiny laptop computer, LOL. The doll is lovely, but she is not articulated and her arm stays in a crooked position. I could go on and on… I really enjoy your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you! My collection has expanded quite a lot in the past few years, too. If you want to make the arm straight, you can soak it in boiling water until it’s soft and bend it into place. Then, pop it in the freezer for 24 hours and it’ll be straight. It’s not perfect, but bent arms really bother me! Also -Barbie laptops are ridiculously difficult to find, so you should forgive yourself there! I’ve only got three, and I’ve been collecting for years haha 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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