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Can I display my stuffed animals as a grown up?
September 5, 2010 11:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to move out of my parents house into my first apartment post-college, and I intend to take all of my possessions with me - including a decent amount of stuffed animals. Is there a way to store/display them in my new place that is not completely childish, creepy, or ridiculous?

I've done the googling thing, and all I've found so far are nets, posts and chains, and assorted storage type things...

There may not be a "grown up" way to display them, and I can accept that...and will store them in a box in my closet if it comes to it, but I thought I'd check with the hive first as my creativity is lacking.

At present, they are in my room at home sitting on top of two book cases.

Thanks!
posted by firei to Home & Garden (79 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
One, maybe two stuffed animals perhaps. More than that, it's childish sorry.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:54 AM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Keep them in a closet or keep somewhere out of plain sight. Better yet, just leave them at your parents house and visit them when you go over there (that's what I do). I think it always, always, always looks childish and unbecoming when a collection stuffed animals are displayed in the home of an adult. Maybe one or two on a reading chair or something but definitely not a whole collection. Although that's just my personal opinion.
posted by ad4pt at 11:55 AM on September 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I agree with Brent, a couple of childhood mementos are basically okay, beyond that it's creepy, childish and / or ridiculous.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:56 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


My roommate has a select number (I think this is the key--you really, really can't except to keep/display all of them in a way that looks even remotely adult) of stuffed animals displayed on shelves and hung on walls, either directly or in shadow boxes. It looks...childish, yes, but it's not so overwhelming to make someone question her sanity.

How many stuffed animals are we talking about here? If it's enough that you need to talk about them in terms of cubic footage, you should seriously consider editing your collection.
posted by phunniemee at 11:57 AM on September 5, 2010


A large and nice looking chest of some sort. This is what we do for our daughter, and it looks pretty nice.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:01 PM on September 5, 2010


Nthing one or two and then it's both creepy and childish.

Anecdote: I have an aunt who has an entire closet full of stuffed animals and dolls, and more on the bed she and my uncle share. They, in fact, used to bring dolls and stuffed animals with them to family gatherings. It was cool when I was, like, three. Now it is just weird.

I personally have two. I keep them on a bookshelf near my bed -- only someone lying on my bed can see them, and I figure that if someone's lying on my bed, they probably already know I have two stuffed animals.
posted by shamash at 12:03 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Depends on who you are. I can see where the other posters are coming from calling it childish, but on the other hand, I don't think childish is such a bad thing to be as long as you are also a stable, responsible adult. Bringing all of them might be a stretch, but I still have a number of special ones, some not so special ones that recently arrived after my parents cleaned their place out that I still haven't decided what to do with, and even some new ones (mostly dorky video game ones that reflect the dorky but awesome person that I am!)

Take the things you want, and listen to yourself. I value the childlike qualities I possess, and I think it would be a shame to lose them. I probably wouldn't get along with people who find such things to be always, always, always unbecoming, but then again they wouldn't get along with me either! Be true to yourself.

As for display, are you going to have bookshelves in your new place? That's where mine are, and I'm an almost 29 year old guy ;)
posted by yellowbinder at 12:05 PM on September 5, 2010 [17 favorites]


I came in here thinking of the net, because it's out of the way, but I like phunniemee's idea a lot. It also lets you add a little bit of that color to each room.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:05 PM on September 5, 2010


One or two on a bookcase is sentimental. One in your bed is endearing. A whole bunch of them scattered around the house is childish bordering on arrested development. A meticulously displayed collection is weird in a completely different way that is equally offputting.

Look, it's okay to be weird. But if you intend on having houseguests, dates, et. al. come over, you may not want their first reaction to be "boy that sure is a lot of stuffed animals everywhere."
posted by griphus at 12:05 PM on September 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


On non preview, yellowbinder pretty much has it. That's the way I feel too.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:06 PM on September 5, 2010


Friends of mine (both reasonable, smart, well-educated adults with a childlike senses of humor) organize their stuffed toys in something like this. Now, granted, they have more of the Uglydolls/designer toys sorts of stuffed pals, but something like this would still work for you. Just don't make it the focal point of your room.

I would, absolutely, pick your favorites and let your parents hang onto the rest. And keep the stuffed toys limited to one area of the house -- one shelf, one hanging rack, whatever -- and not all over the place. And definitely not on the bed.

I think, done correctly, a stuffed toy collection can be sweet and charming. But I do echo the other sentiments that this can cross the line into creepy pretty quickly.
posted by darksong at 12:07 PM on September 5, 2010


This is what your parents' basement is for.

I had a few in my college and immediate post-college apartments. Once I hit 25 it looked silly.
posted by k8t at 12:08 PM on September 5, 2010


I agree with Brent, a couple of childhood mementos are basically okay, beyond that it's creepy, childish and / or ridiculous.
I humbly disagree. Granted, my situation is a bit different from the OP's. I have always had a love of stuffed animals as a kid, but my Mom thought that they were "dust collectors" and a waste of money, so I only ever had just a few while growing up. I happened to mention this to my husband once, and that combined with another comment I'd made about "fresh flowers are nice, but then they die and it makes me sad" inspired him to present me with a cute little stuffed animal on random "I'm-thinking-of-you" occasions. I have quite a collection now, and even though I'm approaching menopause I still proudly display my "critters" on a set of pre-fab plastic-y shelves Mr. Adams assembled for me along the wall nearest my desk (we both work from home). Just glancing at them reminds me of him, and it also gives me some sort of inexplicable snuggy comfortable feeling. So maybe I'm just weird, but I think that if you enjoy having your stuffed animals in view, there's nothing wrong with displaying them no matter what your age. When you get right down to it, what's the difference between displaying your stuffed animals versus your collectible spoons or Precious Moments figurines?
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:08 PM on September 5, 2010 [10 favorites]


You can display a couple of them and keep the rest in a box in the closet, but rotate the ones on display occasionally for variety. I think you'll find that you never do that, though, and you may as well just throw away the box you never open.

When you move out of this apartment, that's when you will wish you didn't keep so much junk.
posted by ctmf at 12:09 PM on September 5, 2010


Hi, my wife and I are childish and creepy. We keep a bunch on the top of a bookcase in our living room. Somehow we still have friends, jobs, and healthy, normal lives. You're, what, 24? It's fine--and it's your house, anyway.
posted by liketitanic at 12:10 PM on September 5, 2010 [25 favorites]


Boy, do I disagree with most of the posters here. I put some on the sides of the bookshelves in a somewhat hazard fashion. It looked really cute without being creepy. I suggest using smaller stuffed animals for this.

My husband and I also have a china cabinet that in addition to our wedding china and inherited Waterford crystal holds his action figures and my collection of dolls from other countries. It's an odd mix that works quite well together. So maybe something similar would work for you.

Also, I once visited a girl whose father was avid Pezz dispenser collector. The dude had upwards of three digits and encroaching on four in Pezz dispensers from every era. He even had labels and dates displayed with them. People collect weird things. If a boatload of Pezz dispensers can manage to look a bit classy, then I'm sure stuffed animals can certainly. Regardless, I don't think displaying stuffed animals is a reflection of childishness as much as it is a reflection of one's childhood. I have a bear from my grandmother that came as part of nightgown one Christmas. The bear matched the picture on the nightgown. Dr.E. still has his bear that he had from ever since he can remember, complete in its original clothing. And, quite frankly, we don't care what other people think about our home as long as we keep it the way we want to keep it.

The fact is, we are adults and behave as such -- pay our bills on time, look after our pets, take good care of Baby Zizzle, work full-time jobs, etc.. If someone suddenly decides we're not adults based on stuffed animals that happen to be visible, then the problem lies with them rather than us.
posted by zizzle at 12:16 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Childish and creepy.

That goes for action figures too.

There's a little tatty teddy bear on the bed, though. But it belongs to the cat.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 12:20 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmm, seems the general consensus is that holding on to all/most of them would be childish and or creepy...which is what I was afraid of. But I'm not surprised!

(It's not a huge collection, and I weeded it down a year or so ago. I'll have to go through it again before I move and get rid of ones that I don't need/love anymore.) (And I'm 22! So maybe there's a little bit of leeway, but...I have enough other quirks that I think the stuffed animals would probably push it into the creepy territory...)

I'll probably bring the favorites with me and stick 'em on a shelf, and the rest will be boxed up and stay at my parents.

Thanks all! I appreciate the feedback. :)
posted by firei at 12:21 PM on September 5, 2010


This would be a good time to take care and store all stuffed animals properly, that is in airtight bags (and possibly with bug killing stuff) in a box. By all means, drag your sentimental favorite or the coolest looking one to your post-collge home and put it on a bookshelf. Your twenties will fly by, you'll grow from young adult to married adult and suddenly there will be children. Being able to give your stuffed toy, still in pristine condition because you stored it right, to your own child rocks. Trust me on this, my daughter loves my Raggedy-Ann & Andy lots, and as she drags Ernie from 1974 around as her bestest friend. I get a kick out if it.

For a splash of color that doesn't steal space from the room, the corner net works well and can be fun.
posted by dabitch at 12:21 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another good thing to do with stuffed animals is to donate them to young relatives of an appropriate age, on the understanding that the animals will come back to you or to other young relatives when they grow out of them. At some point maybe you'll have kids of your own and the animals can then be put cheerfully on display again!
posted by emilyw at 12:22 PM on September 5, 2010


Too much can be too much, like wall to ceiling displays of all your stuffed toys. But if you enjoy them a box in the closet is no way to keep them.

My sister has put up shelves in her daughter's room just above eye level for her child's stuffed ones.

When I saw that I brought my old teddy bear over put him on the shelves and said "now you have new friends."
posted by Max Power at 12:22 PM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


A nice, dark wood, adult-looking, antique curio cabinet could turn that "childish and creepy" stuffed animal assortment to a charmingly eccentric and sentimental collection. Here's a small one on NY Craigslist, but people sell them all the time. There are a lot of nice-looking curio cabinets out there.

If you have a whole lot, or want to display them with more space between them (or with other charmingly eccentric items), then maybe a china cabinet would suit.

We have a few among the books on our bookshelves, and it's understated and fine (some of them are characters from books, most not).
posted by amtho at 12:29 PM on September 5, 2010


My mother has a small assortment of dolls and stuffed animals that she keeps in an antique cradle. I keep my very modest collection of sentimental stuffed animals in a large basket.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:35 PM on September 5, 2010


Goodness gracious, I feel judged reading through this. Many of my stuffed animals from childhood were donated to charity when I left for college some years ago, but several went to college with me. I've since graduated, and I now have those several in my real grown-up apartment. I do keep them restricted to my bedroom, though. The way I see it is, if someone is in a position to be in my bedroom, they probably know me well enough that they will not judge me for my toys. Some are on my bookshelf, and I will admit to having a large octopus-shaped pillow on my bed. If that's creepy, well, then I'm creepy, but I would think it's OK to do what you like in your own room. Someday when I have young relatives of an appropriate age, they will find a new home. Until then, they stay with me.

To answer the question, I think a good option would be to dedicate the top couple of shelves of a bookcase to the toys. At least in my case, I'm short enough that I don't relish getting books off the top shelves anyway, so it's a good place to put things on display. I think some mounted corner shelves would also be good - nice and out of the way.
posted by pemberkins at 12:40 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agreeing with Yellowbinder and Oriole Adams here. I don't see what's so terrible/creepy/childish about a stuffed animal collection. "Creepy" is a Jeffrey Dahmer-type human body collection, public display of porn, thinks that make one think of serial killers or heartless womanizers. A stuffed animal collection is quirky at worst. JMHO. (Besides, being a sophisticated grown-up is way overrated.) I have a collection of plush kitties and a Fawkes the Phoenix and I don't care who knows it. (And it's a great way to weed out the overly anal, demanding and idiosyncratic from the dating pool. Again JMHO.)

Display them neatly - not in a heap in the corner or on the bed - think shelves or nets, or else in a chest if you want to hide them away. And vacuum them regularly so they are dust-free.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:44 PM on September 5, 2010


I'll out mrs. mmascolino and I as childish and creepy although the collection has come more on display as we have gotten more nephews. It is absolutely endearing to see our old toys being played with and cherished again.
posted by mmascolino at 12:45 PM on September 5, 2010


When I had a big bed, I had about a dozen on the bed. Now that my bed is smaller, I have two - one given to me by a very good friend of mine, and one made for me by a very good friend of mine. The rest have been lost to the world (it's a long story). Anyway, mine have always been on the bed because, I figured that by the time I invited someone into my bedroom, they knew I'm never gonna grow up so they could expect stuffed animals on the bed.

I'm not creepy, but I guess I'm childish...
posted by patheral at 12:54 PM on September 5, 2010


I don't know the answer to this question but how about the guys who have those collector's edition figurines of characters from comic books or anime? If that manages to be adult enough I'd expect that stuffed animals would too. I don't have anything like this myself but it wouldn't bother me, personally. Some of the people commenting here perhaps take themselves too seriously.

As far as displaying them I was thinking of a floor-to-ceiling pole with the animals stuck all along its length. That seems more clearly like a decoration and less the way a pile of toys on a bed would look.

The suggestions for a cabinet sound good too, maybe one of the glass ones that they make for sports memorabilia. (Maybe you could find some way to affix signatures to them or make up fake certificates of authenticity. 'Cause y'know, then they're all valuable and they're an investment, and it's stuff like that which really makes you an adult. Call it "adultiness.")

(Or here's another idea, how about fake science exhibits in a glass case?)
posted by XMLicious at 12:57 PM on September 5, 2010


I understand people who say you should preserve the child-like aspects of yourself. The exciting part of being an adult is that preserving those aspects doesn't have to be literal. Now, there are happy healthy adults with extensive toy collections, and they accept that many other adults might look at that with askance, and they're okay with that. People who raise an eyebrow aren't worth their time. That's a fair choice to make.

I'm 30, and still display my bunny from when I was six with a few pictures from growing up. This bunny used to go to surgery with me when I was a child (well, until I was induced). There will come a point when even Bunny moves on. 'She' isn't attached to me. I have two or three action figures out as well. The rest I've given away or boxed for future generations.

Think about why you're saving them or want to display them, and whether they as things are adding meaning to your adult life. For many people, the memories of the toys are what make them special now. Take pictures if losing the memories concerns you, but if you're not genuinely keeping them for your own reasons or hobbies as an adult, you might consider passing the ones in nice condition on to others, or storing some to pass along to your own relatives/children in the future. (I have my great-grandmother's china doll and my grandmother's tea set, for example. And I used to play with a few of my parents' old toys are their parents' houses.)

Toys didn't define who I was as a child and don't define the childlike aspects of who I am now. Having/not having them or displaying them/not displaying them--these choices are actually irrelevant to my values and memories and appreciations. I am the one who ascribes memories and meaning to my surroundings and life and possessions, whether those objects are books or toys or silverware or clothes or photographs.

on preview: if I had a large enough place and were settled more permanently, I would totally make a 'science exhibit' cabinet, because that would be hilarious.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 12:59 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you have room in your bedroom, a few grouped cozily together in a small chair would be cute (IMO). Individual animals peeking out from random spots on the bookshelves, likewise. I personally wouldn't display a whole bunch together like a collection, but then I'm not a collector in general so that's probably just my preference. I'd use a few of the cutest, most beloved, or most unique as accents here and there, and put the rest in a convenient bin where visiting children and playful adults could pull them out and give them a little loving (and I bet they would!). I don't think it's childish at all; having those kinds of things around is part of the transition from childhood to adulthood, and there's a lot of overlap. It's not like one day a switch flips and boom! you're a grownup.
posted by not that girl at 1:05 PM on September 5, 2010


I love my childhood stuffed companions, but I would think twice about keeping them in a place where they could be in the way of a wild moment of impetuous passion. Meaning, not on the bed, if you hope to have adult activity there. One or two posed near your favorite books is charming.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:07 PM on September 5, 2010


My wife and I have a medium-sized collection of stuffed animals which we display on shelves that are built into our upstairs hallway (cellphone photo, and not very organized right now, sorry). She collected a full set of Australian wildlife plushies while she was visiting there as a teenager, and I won a lot of prizes while doing field research on crane games and redemption games. Depending on what kind of plushies you have, this could be a good option for you. I also have a few of the quirkier ones on my desk.

Guests have generally been intrigued, and not creeped out, but then again, we're not in college anymore.
posted by Maximian at 1:15 PM on September 5, 2010


Can I display my stuffed animals as a grown up?

No. And being grown-up is *not* over-rated; your question shows you are interested in it--good. Arrested development isn't cute. There is a huge difference between child-like and childish. Childlike is wonderful at any age, and does not have to involve displays of what you loved when you were missing your front teeth . If you were missing front teeth now, people would not think you were cute....they would feel sorry for you.
And whatever you decide to do, please, not on the bed. Not even one on the bed. There's one arena where being grown-up is certainly not over-rated.
posted by uans at 1:21 PM on September 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Okay, totally different viewpoint here... and you may very well desire to go with the majority here, but gonna share it anyway.

I LOVE my stuffies. Always have, always will. I had tons of them. My first adult home had a walk in dressing closet with shelves, so I stacked them in there (my adult daughter currently uses this same strategy).

Then I got rid of them all as I began to build my family and felt that I was being childish, and putting the stuffies behind me seemed, um, logical. Well, within a few years I had collected more, because it's just part of who I am. I NEED a few stuffies in my life for comfort and softness and whatever. Every home since has had a place for them, usually in my computer room.

Now I live in a one room RV ... I have about a dozen small stuffies in out of the way but visible places, and my hubby recognizes it's part of who I am, and doesn't mind. Occassionally other people may think it's odd ... but we are old enough now to not care, and to appreciate being the free spirits we are (I am over 50!)

Bottom line ... box them for now, or put up a shelf in a discreet but cute place in one room, and as you grow into "feeling" adult (we all go through that stage of having to transform into adulthood) and 10/15/20 years from now, they will likely find a prominent and totally appropriate place in your home and you will be glad to have them.
posted by batikrose at 1:23 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've kept a fair amount of mine, but the vast majority of them are in storage rather than on display. A few in a bookshelf or something is cute, maybe a bit quirky or weird, but not to the point that everyone's talking about childish. I'd love my future children to have my stuffed toys, so I'm not going to get rid of the ones I particularly love (that's why they're in storage).
posted by asciident at 1:24 PM on September 5, 2010


Everyone freaking out about stuffed animals on the bed - seriously? It's one thing if you sit on the bed and start talking baby talk to them and take 20 minutes to relocate each one, but if your reaction to the animals on the bed is to fling them on the floor, I can't think of anyone who will actually care that there were teddy bears on the bed.

Do what you want to do. I'm really not sure why stuffed animals are bad but Star Wars or anime would be considered okay. I've been in people's houses where that stuff was overkill to the point where I felt like I was sitting in a store. That also goes for sports memorabilia, music memorabilia, or any type of collectible.

Be who you want to be and don't worry about anyone else. I do, however, love the idea of putting your toys away so that your kids (or kids you're close to) can use them later.
posted by micawber at 1:28 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there a way to store/display them in my new place that is not completely childish, creepy, or ridiculous?

No.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:35 PM on September 5, 2010


My girlfriend keeps hers well-organized on a shelf in her room. We (and the others in the house) are in our late 20s/early-to-mid 30s and no one here seems to find it creepy or childish. We also have all our collective Star Wars and Star Trek memorabilia prominently displayed on the mantle above the fireplace, however, so make of that what you will.

I don't really know anyone that finds stuffed animals in the possession of adults to be particularly creepy or childish.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:45 PM on September 5, 2010


I realize you asked for opinions so people are free to respond with "creepy!" and "incompatible with Real Adulthood!" Still I am shocked that people are so vehement about their anti-stuffed-animal feelings. Guess I too am creepy and childish and overflowing with arrested development.

ANYway I agree that bookshelves and computer desks are good places for much-loved stuffed animals to live out their retirement years.

Personally I'd avoid displaying them in a heap or in
any configuration that seems too collectiony. Make each one "count" I guess rather than appearing to just have a big stuffed animal collection for the sake of having a big stuffed animal collection.
posted by Neofelis at 1:51 PM on September 5, 2010


and keep in mind, they're lovely to have to give to your own kids. I've always taken care of mine, and it was always fun to sit and be able to tell him the story behind this bunny or that bear.
posted by lemniskate at 2:02 PM on September 5, 2010


I'm with those who recommend cubbies/bookshelf space in a dedicated but non-spotlight place in your new abode for the ones you really love (especially those you can tell good stories about).

I'm not with those who suggest leaving a bunch with your parents. One thing that was made clear during my re-training versus hoarding is that other people's things left behind are problematic and don't help anyone on either side of the storage equation. Once you make your selections, do a second cull that pulls out a few for any future sproglets if you plan on having any, then box or chest those up in a place where only you need to worry about keeping track of them. Take everything that remains to a donation center of some sort and let them find new homes.
posted by batmonkey at 2:05 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


It would be creepy to date a girl who still cares so much for her childhood stuffed animals.
posted by nomadicink at 2:17 PM on September 5, 2010


Whether or not you display all or some of your plush toys, and how, really depends on where you are in life and how much you care what other people think. My husband and I are weird, and we don't really give a fuck what others think. We have a collection of plush toys on top of a bookcase and covering an entire small coffee table. We are also responsible adults in our 40s with paying jobs who can carry on interesting, adult conversations, and have other, more mature interests. If someone were to see our collection and be creeped out by it, or think we're childish (and hold it against us), well, we figure that's their problem.

That's easy for us, though, because we're settled. You might not want to "hang your freak flag" so proudly yet, and that's ok too ... until then, one or two in the bedroom, and the rest in a box, as the others have said. But when you want to put them all out, I'd suggest a nice set of shelves. That seems a bit classier than a net or cage or trunk, I think.
posted by Koko at 2:19 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I'm really not sure why stuffed animals are bad but Star Wars or anime would be considered okay."

Actually, a lot of people would think that being obsessed with Star Wars or anime is *not* okay.

Not that's I'm fine with that. Tbh, I get really annoyed with people who would presume to judge based on someone's "non-mainstream" hobbies and interests.

OP, you SHOULD NOT care what people think with regards to you keeping your stuffed animals or anything else you'd care to keep from your childhood/teenhood/collegehood/whatever. Obviously, those stuffed animals means something to you since you didn't automatically chuck them in the trash.

Seriously, I'm really surprised at how many "that's creepy" comments have been left here. As long as you are a fully-functioning adult, who pays your bills on time, has a decent job, can hold intelligent conversation, why the hell would it matter if you also happen to keep a number of stuffed animals in a non-in-the-way place in your house?

Honestly, people need to allow themselves and others to be a little more whimsical.

Oh, and with regards to this: "It would be creepy to date a girl who still cares so much for her childhood stuffed animals.", that girl probably wouldn't want to date a guy with a mentality like that.
posted by joyeuxamelie at 2:49 PM on September 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


...that girl probably wouldn't want to date a guy with a mentality like that.

This is where I disagree. Every couple has interests that the other does not share, or even that the other person finds offputting. However, that interest does not necessarily have to be shared, nor have to even be brought up. If I really liked putting together model train sets and my girlfriend thought it was weird but was cool with it because she doesn't have to share in it and I do not impose it on her, that would be perfectly fine. However, if I were dating someone, to bring them home to an apartment stuffed with model trains it would indicate that they are a BIG part of me. Even if they are not and I just happen to have a quantity of train-related things. The other person would find this otherwise innocuous and personal interest being prodded in their face the whole time they were there. That is off-putting and it does not have to be.
posted by griphus at 2:54 PM on September 5, 2010


Whoops. Itchy trigger finger. Anyway, the mentality of the people she chooses to date should not be put to the test by the presence of a stuffed animal collection. Unless of course she identifies this collection to the extent that she is alright with that being the case.
posted by griphus at 3:00 PM on September 5, 2010


I'm going to assume that "creepy" means "awesome" in this thread.

Which is to say, display as many as you'd like. If you can't enjoy your stuffed animal collection in your own room, where can you enjoy it?
posted by yaymukund at 3:11 PM on September 5, 2010


No. You're an adult now. It's time to grow up, and give up your childhood toys. Seriously.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:14 PM on September 5, 2010


I think you should store them while you are at college - it is a time to begin anew and store all your valuables and sentimental stuff for later. You can break them out again after college.
posted by meepmeow at 3:17 PM on September 5, 2010


Another angle on "being an adult": I consider getting my crap out of my parents' house to be a big part of becoming an adult. My parents have limited storage space and lots of kids, so even though none of us live at home anymore a substantial amount of their real estate is taken up with our old stuff. They don't mind storing our stuff, but I know I'm depending and imposing on them unnecessarily. Certainly there are things of ours they want to keep- school stuff, drawings and art projects, etc. But my stuffed animals don't mean anything to them. Those that still mean something to me are my responsibility, not theirs.

As a practical storage solution that honors your independence from your childhood toys but also your acknowledgement of their power, get a storage chest coffee table like this (an expensive example but you can find cheap ones). Keep the stuffed animals smack in the middle of your living room. They'll be right there, working their comforting magic, but it'll be a secret between you and them.
posted by doift at 3:30 PM on September 5, 2010


Gosh, there are a lot of judgmental people here that I wouldn't want to be friends with. Stay out of my house (although I don't have a stuffed animal collection) and my friends' houses, please, you sneering types. And giving your opinion is one thing, but do look into your own issues before you go name-calling. (Arrested development? Creepy? Childish? Heavens. Actually, I see a couple of stuffed animals in my living room after all--I'd better make sure I really do have that graduate degree and that people do really come over to my place without shrieking in horror and that I really can cook for myself and that I really am married!)

A couple who are good friends of ours, and who are around 40, have a collection of clean stuffed animals in good condition on top of their bookcases. They don't let them get dirty or dusty, and I doubt most people notice or are bothered by them. If your toys are battered and worn, I wouldn't display them outside your bedroom. I've seen a hammock that can be hung from corner to corner in a room, which could be good for your bedroom (but if you are going to have dates in there, maybe put it where it can't be seen from the bed). I don't think that's an especially childish way to display them, but YMMV.

Also, a lot of people actually seem to support keeping them--look how many people have favorited supportive comments.

Anyway, good luck with your decision.
posted by wintersweet at 3:37 PM on September 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think what some people may be reacting to isn't the adults who are like 'yeah, my stuffed animals are totally out, and I'm cool with it and my life.' It's not even hoarders, which is a host of tangled mental health issues. It's two general groups of people, and I don't think the OP or anyone in this thread falls into these categories, but this might be where some of the animosity and 'be an adult!' snark comes from:

(a) encounters or relationships with younger, insecure people who display things like stuffed animals in an attempt to appear whimsical/quirky, rather than because it's their thing, and they're just doing their thing. This is a gendered group, because with stuffed animals, that's more something you see with young women, especially if they've been sold the Manic Pixie Dream Girl image.

(b) encounters or relationships with people whose collections represent an unwillingness to move forward in life or deal with themselves and their lives as they exist now. It's the representation of time-freezing that some people are reacting to; not ownership of toys in and of itself.

Part of that is shaped by how people who keep toys are represented in pop culture. For example, I think it's safe to state the couples in the thread who have toy collections aren't exactly The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but that's how pop culture represents it. I have met people who seem to be using the trappings of childhood either to demonstrate their sense of whimsy, or to escape 'being an adult,' because they don't realize yet that adulthood contains a lot of responsibility, but you also have the privilege of deciding on what 'being an adult' means in many other aspects of life.

firei, just remember: if adulthood encompasses any toy, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. (Did they still have those when you were in elementary school?) The rest of us can tell you what choice we'd take or took when it comes to our possessions and stuff and tell you about our experiences or opinions, but it's your book.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 3:38 PM on September 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Because we're grown-ups now, it's our turn to decide what that means.

Your home/apartment is a space for enjoying things that you enjoy. It's not supposed to be for anyone else.

Decorate accordingly.
posted by SNWidget at 4:26 PM on September 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


No. Let your childhood be.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:27 PM on September 5, 2010


You could embrace the creepiness that people here seem to be convinced of, and smush them faces outward into a fish tank.

I have a few on top of one of my book shelf, and two that poke out of vases on my mantle piece. Oh, and a giant bear that sits in a childs chair in my lounge room. And a puppet that hangs from a book shelf. If anyone wants to judge me for saving presents from friends, well, that's their loss. I think it's nice to have some whimsy in my life.
posted by kjs4 at 4:56 PM on September 5, 2010


Unless you are a collector of stuffed animals, more than one or two is creepy.

If they are a thing that you Collect, not unlike other people might collect records or antique cameras, by all means, display them in an adult I Collect This manner. Which, to me, means shelving, shadowboxes, and the like.

If they are a thing you had when you were a little girl, and you simply still have them, because, like, they are a possession that you own - they should go to goodwill now. Your parents will not want to store your musty old stuffed animals for decades simply because you are attached to the notion that you own them.
posted by Sara C. at 4:58 PM on September 5, 2010


It is childish, but hey, you're still pretty darn young, and with some things it takes some time to grow out of. When I was in my 20s I took all sorts of things with me whenever I moved--not to display necessarily, but just to have--when I could've just kept it at my folks' house instead. Or, perhaps better yet, given away or sold. I remember one friend who had a massive book and comic book collection taking boxes upon boxes of them when he moved across the country to L.A. And the boxes took up half his floorspace in his tiny apartment. But he just wasn't ready to let go of them.

When you get older, you'll feel less and less attachment to material things (and perhaps new attachments to new things, but that's another question).

If you're still displaying those things when you're 30, take a step back and see if you really need them.
posted by zardoz at 5:07 PM on September 5, 2010


I want to come back to something because I think it's important.

Dr.E turned 30 a few months ago. He still has the numerous action figures he collected. He has several boxes of comic books. He still buys comic books. He plays Magic. In fact, he goes to Friday Night Magic a bunch --- something he just started a few months ago that he hasn't done for a long time. He enjoys all these things. He derives pleasure from them.

He also holds a Masters degree in Organic Chemistry, will shortly embark on a second Masters degree in secondary education, teaches honors and AP classes in a rural school district. Some of his students, knowing he played Magic, asked if they could use his room to play Magic once a week after school. Sometimes he play with them if he doesn't have a student come in to finish a lab or needing extra help. In other words. Dr.E's childishness is doing a really good thing for some of his students who all live in different towns, do not have driver's licenses, and attend a school where all card games are banned (for fear of gambling) unless somehow supervised or approved by a school employee. His students approached him precisely because they know he plays a game that it seems many MeFites (and I'm really disappointed in MeFi with this thread) think he should have given up about 8 years ago.

I have a stuffed bear I got for my 5th birthday from my uncle. That bear went everywhere with me. Sleepovers. Summer camp. College. Russia. It's a very special bear. It is now Baby Zizzle's bear, and I am so thrilled that he's able to enjoy my bear as much as I did. As someone who had, at times, a very lonely childhood, my bear provided me a lot of comfort I didn't get elsewhere. And I'm glad I was able to find that comfort somewhere, and my heart just melts whenever Baby Zizzle's face lights up when he sees her and shouts, "Bawwww!"

I also have a turtle that Dr.E won for me from a crane machine the day before we got married. We named in Sleepy. I have a little one that came from my grandmother as a part of a Christmas gift one year. I have others, too, all with their associated memories. To me, it's the same as with books. Dr.E and I have a huge book collection. I have a lot of books with inscriptions in them. I have a lot of books from my childhood. My mother, apparently, has done me a great disservice by keeping so many of the books that she read to the four of us as kids. It's going to be absolutely terrible and childish of both of us to take them off the shelves in her bedroom where they are in full view, dust them off, and read them to Baby Zizzle when he is old enough for them. She also did me a great disservice by keeping our baptismal clothes and digging them out for Baby Zizzle's baptism. He was too big to wear the gowns, as he was older than we were when baptized, but one of the hats fit well enough. That was truly disturbing and creepy to me --- what's more, one of those outfits was the one my aunt, mother's sister, was baptized in. How terrible!

The point is, lots of people keep lots of things. Some people will think keeping such things is childish, overly sentimental, trite, or a sign of being unable to move on. Some people will think keeping such things is sweet, sometimes possibly kind, and wonderful. People have different tastes. Decorate your apartment to your taste with whatever you feel like, be it stuffed animals, posters, balloons, modern art, or original renaissance paintings. Your tastes are likely to change -- whether more "grown up," or just different. And then you'll change how you decorate your home. But it's your home. You are the one living there every day. You are the one who will come home from class or work or the gym on good days and bad days. When you walk in your door, what will help assuage the cares of the day away? What will say to you, "Ahhh. Hooooome," when you slump in a chair after a terrible day?

That's how you should decorate your apartment.
posted by zizzle at 5:44 PM on September 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think the correct answer depends heavily on your gender. There is simply no non-creepy way a grown, single male can own 25 stuffed animals.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:49 PM on September 5, 2010


If you're possibly going to get bodily fluids other than tears on Teddy, you might want to think about a display case. To my mind, there's a certain manic pixie dream girl aura around oodles of those beloved lionsandtigersandbears.

But why are people dragging out their advanced degrees and credit statements to defend their displays of toys, etc.? If anything, that's more off-putting than a heap of animal-shaped polyester fuzz on the bed.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:53 PM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Zip them inside an empty beanbag cover. It doesn't have to be this one. A nice pleather one would be even better.
posted by Knowyournuts at 5:58 PM on September 5, 2010


In the next few years, you'll probably accumulate some more from significant others. Don't get rid of any of them until you are ready to or you'll end up re-buying them on eBay a few years from now. I like the idea of taking funky photographs of each of your childhood "friends" and displaying that collection, perhaps in a digital photo frame. The actual artifacts can live in plastic bags in your closet.
posted by Morrigan at 6:06 PM on September 5, 2010


Wow - thanks for all the support! It's nice to see that a lot of you don't think I'm a creep if I choose to keep them. :) But thanks to everyone, because both points of view are useful.

I do plan to cull them again, because looking up at them on my bookcases now there are definitely ones I don't want or need (squeaky Pikachu, I'm looking at you!), but the others I will hold on to, even if they go in a tupperware under my bed for a while.

thanks again. :)
posted by firei at 6:06 PM on September 5, 2010


Originally I had said it was creepy to keep them, particularly with the links you provided about how to display/store them. I say this as an adult male with 8 boxes of comic books, a model of Star Wars ship, a really cool looking retro laser gun and boxes of Legos from when when Lego's were really cool and didn't come with many prefabricated parts.

But the comics are tucked away in boxes and I really wish I could digitize them all. The Star Wars ship (a B Wing) and the laser pistol are setting in my office and the Lego's are stored away in a box. So yes, I have a geeky childish side, everyone does to some extent, but the question is how do we display it as adults? You're 22, just moving out and you're probably still sorting out the answers to that question and that's fine, it may take you a few years.

But consider this: What would you think if you went over a guy's house. whom you were interested in. and he had bunches of toys displayed in a manner similar to the links you provided? Would it be an attraction?

If you went over a friend's house and they had toys displayed in a way similar to the links you provided, would you think it was weird and would you think it was cool?

The answers to those questions should determine how you display your stuffed animals, both to be yourself and to surround yourself with the kind of people you want to share your life with.
posted by nomadicink at 6:26 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think that you can do a bit of transformation work with toys. I often rework childhood favourites into new 'pieces' such as framed children's book covers or dress-your-paper-doll cut outs in double glass mounts. Or use pieces of material from childhood frocks in t-shirts, new dresses. You want to find a way to create an adult piece out of your childhood materials.

I remember seeing a pic of Rachel Griffiths' mid-century LA home in which she has all kinds of wonderful mid-century collector's items. But she also has small children and wanted a family home. Her take on the Bertoia chair makes me think that you could work some transformation magic too. I can't find the pic of the chair she created. But in summary, she used ties to attach the toys to the wire to make a big, soft, chair. [nb. looks WAY better than it sounds, if done well] Maybe, in a similar vein, you could get a wire rack to mount onto a wall and do the same? It could be a funky head board and wouldn't transmit that needy teen aura of toys on the bed.
posted by honey-barbara at 7:10 PM on September 5, 2010


One of the awesome things about getting your own place is that you can decorate it any way you damn well please, and if someone is going to judge you for what you like to have kicking around the place, they can stop accepting your hospitality and go back to their own boring home. Personally, I'd try to arrange them in a amusing way, like tie them onto a long rope and hang hem on the wall like a garland, or in a curio cabinet looking like they are trying to bust out of it. The zoo storage thing you linked to is neat - it could be painted to match your decor, and you could put up different signs on it to amuse your friends like "stuffie prison"
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:01 PM on September 5, 2010


I assume that when you're adults you are expected to exchange the transitional objects of your childhood for $295 cashmere sweaters or those frightfully expensive bed linen sets which include, yes, pillows of various shapes and sizes.

(apologies for commercial link but it needed a picture)

This is irony; I am on the side of the keepers of stuffed animals, as long as they aren't Tickle Me Elmo or the new stuffed toy that laughs hysterically when you touch it.
posted by bad grammar at 8:40 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


My daughter's friend nails hers to the ceiling. Weird but a great conversation starter. Or ender.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:22 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The key to collections not looking creepy is quality over quantity. You should display only the nicest looking ones. You might be really attached to that rattyass Carebear, but people visiting your house only see the mange. Put the ugly sentimental favorites in a nice closed chest or something.

Also, put some thought in the display. A pile of plushes in a corner is kind of off-putting, but a few here and there on shelves can still look grown-up. One of my friends uses his uglydolls as throw pillows on his couch, and it's super cool. I have a lot of vinyl figures and I find that keeping them all on one shelves is nerd city, so I scattered them around my place, hidden in plants, holding books, in the spice rack, staring at you in the bathroom... They blend into the rest of the grown up decor and people really have fun looking for them.

Basically, you want to emphasize what makes each toy special, rather than the fact that you have a million of them.
posted by Freyja at 9:39 PM on September 5, 2010


my immediate thought when reading this was that you could take your stuffed animal toy collection to a friendly local avant garde artist and have her/him turn them into some kind of crazy striking modern conceptual art installation for your house, maybe as the centerpiece of your living room, dining room or the first thing people see through the front door.
posted by Bwithh at 10:54 PM on September 5, 2010


I know who's not getting party invites this year, and it's not those who are now sober, Spock-like adults. Embrace your inner Shatner!

Display as many stuffed animals as you like, where you like. On top of dressers or bookcases is choice. If you can't fit them on the flat parts of a couple of pieces of furniture without making that furniture useless for its intended function, stash some in a storage box and rotate them every once in awhile.

This is creepy: "And here are my little friends. They are named Abby and Babby and Cabby and Dabby... They're always here for me, always have been and always will be my best friends in the whole world. DON'T TOUCH ABBY! She doesn't like it!"

This is not creepy: "Yeah, I've had these since I was a kid, and they bring back nice memories from the good times I had growing up. They make me smile. Besides, I find Pottery Barn-style rooms antiseptic and unimaginative."
posted by maxwelton at 12:17 AM on September 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Skin them and sew the patches into a floor rug or beanbag cover. ;)
posted by springbound at 3:41 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Lady Gaga jacket?

(hey, it's an idea for some of the more...umm...under the weather ones that will allow them to take up less space AND give you quite the conversation piece)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:23 AM on September 6, 2010


You already got some good bookshelves suggestions. My friend R has a huge stuffed animal bird collection and she has high shelves near the ceiling on all of her bedroom walls that are filled with these birds. I think the effect is rather nice.

I only kept one stuffed animal (my first) which I keep socked away in my mementos box under the bed, so I don't consider myself an enthusiast. We do have some kids' books in the house even though we have no kids, though, so ymmv.

I don't think that keeping your plush toys is creepy
posted by kalessin at 6:44 AM on September 6, 2010


Coming late to the party, with a slightly different perspective.

I'm a fairly serious toy collector. I specialize in vintage Fisher Price but I do have other sorts of toys in the collection (and on display) in my home, including a small collection early 20th century Steiff which are displayed along side my childhood collection of Winnie the Pooh toys.

Sections of the collection are on display in a more private (ie: upstairs) part of my house. (Some of the FP toys are also now loved and played with by my son; sections of the collection that I don't want him playing with or touching are currently stored away out of sight - it seems cruel for him to see toys but not be able to touch them). Virtually all of my friends know of my collection - I've never had anyone react anything other than positively to it ("Wow that's cool" "Hey, I had one of those!").

Because of dust issues, stuffed toys are best displayed in an enclosed case. I use a glass-fronted, three shelf barrister's bookcase that doesn't take up a lot of room and fits nicely with the Victorian furniture in much of the rest of the house.

I'll also strongly endorse how wonderful it is to be able to give your child toys that were meaningful to you as a child.
posted by anastasiav at 8:26 AM on September 6, 2010


Oh, BS to the people saying this is creepy. My significant other had a half dozen plus ornamenting his tiny studio when we first met, our combined collection (a solid dozen) has moved with us ever since. We currently have them perched atop a double set of lawyer's bookcases. We spread them out so they're all sitting straight forward and peeking down at us. We took two special guys (one a stuffie I'd made for him, and one a old, very careworn animal puppet he'd had since infancy and put them in between books, peeking out.

Our place looks like the home of adults, who like nice furniture, old, classic, pieces. I have NEVER thought our animals made us look "unique" or "quirky" (though we certainly are both), they are just part of our home, and they look just fine.

We've never gotten comments on the animals other than positive ones. For our close friends and family, the older animals given them a glimpse into our childhoods, and the newer ones give them a glimpse into our life together (the adorable guy purchased on our first vacation together at a national park, the cute little guy who reminded him of my first well-loved dog, etc).
posted by arnicae at 9:51 AM on September 6, 2010


I have to ask, are you going to have roommates, now or in the future? I'm the type of person who finds stuffed animals really creepy in general (whether owned by kids or adults), and a past roommate is the kind of person who loves them. I didn't care what she did in her own room, but when she demanded that one particularly garish one live in our living room, it drove me pretty crazy. Let your freak flag fly, certainly, but only in spaces you have 100% design control over.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:59 AM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I traipsed off to college at the ripe ol' age of 27 and hung about a dozen or so of my fave stuffed animals in a net in the corner of my room. I wasn't particularly girly and was pretty cerebral, so I don't think it contributed to a childish vibe. The location above the bed was too overhead to be obtrusive and no plastic eyes stared at me and my lover while we did adult things on the bed.
Bonus 1: you have a coupla playthings to toss at the occasional toddler some young visiting parent might bring over.
Bonus 2: from what I've read here, you get to weed out the people who think (inexplicably!) displaying stuffed animals is creepy.
Bonus 3: in the times that you might feel lonely, homesick, or down, it's nice to catch the watchful eyes of the familiar faces of the beloved things that once provided you with much comfort. A few smooshy snout kisses, deeply inhaling the smell of home, and you'll be right as rain. (Do this in private; stuffed beasties never kiss n tell.)
posted by Jezebella at 6:15 PM on September 13, 2010


"Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis
posted by stoneweaver at 8:59 AM on October 12, 2010


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