If you have more than a couple of board games, board game storage eventually becomes an issue. No matter how many games you have or how much space you have, storage solutions are available.
I have a ridiculous number of games. I started my collection back when I was a teacher and had to learn how to keep them organized in a small classroom. Now, I’m married with kids and run a regular Saturday night game night with my friends and their kids. My wife is a stickler for making sure our game collection stays neat and doesn’t showcase worn corners.
Maybe she’s right. When this was left to my kids–well the less said the better.
I’ve collected numerous game organizational ideas over the years from other teachers, board-gaming friends, and the internet.
Organizing board games doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive. You can use items you already own, spend a few dollars at the dollar store, or go all out purchasing better game storage organization containers and furniture.
I’ve tried to list several ideas, such as storing games that don’t come in a box, using containers for game and piece storage, storing games in ways that don’t involve stacking, labeling, and shelving systems.
I’ve used a number of these game storage ideas myself, have seen them in action, or have aspirations to use them in the future. I’m sure you will find one or several ideas that will suit your game storage needs.
Board Game Storage Ideas
Game storage depends on your storage needs, available space, and aesthetic tastes.
How to Store Board Games That Don’t Come in a Box
When I used to teach I sometimes made games to help with learning. At first, I just stuffed the games into a vinyl sleeve in my class three-ring binder, but I kept losing the pieces.
Eventually, I realized that I needed a better system. Here are some ideas I’ve used over the years or seen other teachers use. Once contained, you can put the games in a desk drawer or organize them in a closet or on a shelf in crates, baskets, or containers.
Large Ziplock bags
Large ziplock bags can be a step up from manilla folders since you can see the contents through them.
Manilla envelopes are handy for games that include full-sized paper instructions.
Zipper pouches are more reliable than press-to-seal Ziplock bags and can be a more durable long-term storage solution.
Pencil Bags for Three-Ring Binders
You can place multiple pencil bags with three holes in large three-ring binders and then store them vertically on a shelf.
Small Matching Containers or Drawers
Small matching containers or drawers with matching labels can hold loose game pieces and look sophisticated on your shelves.
Matching containers are your friends for board game storage. Whether your games are already in a box or not, containers can keep games organized, in better shape, keep all the pieces together and help keep similar games together.
You can find cheap containers at the dollar store or a container-specific store. It’s even better if your matching containers can stack together or look nice lined up next to each other on a shelf, in a closet, or cupboard.
Some useful storage containers for games include:
- Stackable plastic storage boxes with lids
- Shoebox-sized plastic boxes
- Stackable crates
- Food storage containers
- Photo boxes
- Game card cases
- Small bins
- Magazine holders
- Slim file/document/project cases
- Pencil boxes
- Zipper pouches
Plastic drawers come in different sizes and look neat and tidy on a shelf or in a closet. Each drawer can hold one game or similar categories of games (for example, card games).
I’ve found this to especially be a good solution for kids’ games because they are more durable than boxes. Some people just toss the original game box out and put all the game components into drawers. You can pull out the entire drawer when you want to play a game. You can organize small pieces within the drawer in ziplock bags or other containers.
Of course, game boards won’t fit into smaller drawers, so a solution can be to collect all the game boards, label them on the back, and store them alphabetically in a larger drawer or standing up vertically.
Labels help keep your containers looking classy and make finding games easier.
I like to use the same font and style for all my labels, but some people mix it up to make each label look unique. It’s also helpful to add an image to the label to help with visual recognition.
Some label ideas include:
- Writing or typing on blank mailing address labels with a word processing program or free online label program
- Label-making machine
- Chalkboard labels with chalk markers
- Sharpie directly onto the container
Board Game Piece Storage
Let’s face it. Board game boxes don’t always come with efficient board game piece storage.
Custom Game Organizers
Some board game boxes come poorly organized, and organization can be even more complex after adding new expansions to a box. Various companies and individuals create custom board game inserts for popular games from balsa wood, foam, or 3-D printing. You can also make one yourself.
Plastic organizers can either fit into the game box or accompany a game separately.
Some helpful plastic organizers include:
- Adjustable divider organizers
- Plastic photo box
- Film canisters or pill canisters
- Board game piece storage containers
- Mixed size plastic boxes
Game Card Storage Boxes
If you enjoy deck-building games, a game card storage box can keep all your cards in one place.
Folded cardstock paper can be an inexpensive insert to help organize the various regions of your board game box.
Small Ziplock Bags
Most game stores stock small ziplock bags that you can buy in bulk to help organize your game components.
Rubber bands keep like cards together and easy to access.
How to Store Board Games Vertically
I like to store my board games vertically on shelves so that the spines read like book spines. (i.e. the board games are on their sides.)
In fact it’s exactly how you would store a book.
Storing games vertically gives the advantage of not having to dig games out of a stack, which can cause a Jenga-worthy cascade of falling games.
It can also put less stress on the board game boxes than just piling them together. These boxes are not meant for supporting the weight of a pile of board games above them.
To keep games from falling over in a partially-filled shelf, add a bookend or stack a couple of games to fit the space.
Wire Pan Rack
A wire pan rack can hold games and keep them from falling over.
Storing Boxes Horizontally
If you must do a pile of board games, then I would suggest trying to store the same size and shape board games together. This looks much neater and puts less stress on the boxes.
If you just pile on on top of the other, that might not work so well!
Rubber Bands to Hold the Boxes Together
When you store games vertically or horizontally, the pieces often shift and work their way out of some of the boxes. Large rubber bands or thick hair bands help to keep them together. My daughter likes to color-coordinate the bands with the box color.
Kallax or Other Cubby Shelving System
IKEA Kallax shelves are the most popular shelving system in the board-gaming world. Any cubby shelves also work well. I recently bought Kallax shelves because my wife wanted a uniform aesthetic for our board game collection. Plus, adding doors to some of the shelves hides away games with heavy wear.
BoxThrone Shelving System
My local game shop uses the modular BoxThrone shelving system to display their free-to-play games. I like these because they adjust to fit any game box size and allow you to store your games horizontally so that none of the pieces get jumbled.
Games as Art
One interesting idea, especially in a kid’s room, is to frame game boards as art for storage. There’s no need to unframe the art to play, and the game components hang from command hooks in a bag behind the framed game board.
Places To Store Games Out of Sight
Some people like to display their games, but you can keep them out of sight in a drawer, cupboard, closet, or sideboard.
When my home game collection was still small, I kept them all in a couple of drawers in my chest of drawers.
In a Cupboard
Kitchen cupboards aren’t just for food and cooking utensils. If you have extra space, why not store your games in a cabinet close to your kitchen table?
In a Closet
Closets have space on the shelf above clothing racks and on the floor to hold game boxes and game storage systems.
One clever way to keep your games organized in your closet is to use a hanging closet organizer.
Keep in a Sideboard (Next to the Dinner Table)
Some people store china in a sideboard, buffet table, or credenza, but there’s no reason you can’t use one to store your games instead. Credenzas provide one of the most tasteful ways to store games away from sight and keep them easily accessible.
After reading through these ideas, you’re probably feeling more inspired to do some deep-level game organizing. You can spend just a few dollars at the dollar store or invest more in a more extensive board game storage strategy.