I got so sick of this. I'm kind of suprised because NO ONE ever offers to help me clean it up. And seriously no one invites us over, I think because my kids have more toys here I always make good lunch and snacks fro everyone and they don't have to clean LOL! I have ONE good friend and we swap.
I have a play room downstairs. It used to be the crafts room/toy storage, and my room upstairs was the play room but i just can't keep a handle on it them. The kids each have their special things in their bedrooms, and a tall bookshelf they keep organized. They really don't use their rooms for "play" though, more like storing/arranging because I really do think they value their things. When friends come over, we DO NOT play in bedrooms. I am incredibly strict about this. Both my kids have been in tears over broken things, etc. DS has a huge collection of legos which he displays and the swipe of a hand one time and they are gone. It happened with his lego agent command center and it was sad. He literally cried half an hour in front of people and I don't blame him. Someone broke my DD's special umbrella that was in her room....so we just don't go there.
So, downstairs in our play room we have one wall of deep bookshelves floor to ceiling. We keep all the toys, games, puzzles, joint craft supplies, etc. there is a table in there, a wall of white boards. In the living room we having the same wall floor to ceiling of bookshelves and each kid has one tall unit for their school stuff (we homeschool) and all the toys that can fit in them. The rest go in the play room. I just flat out stand right in the middle of it, and whip out my emergency bribe if it is getting out of hand. I save the snack time to this. "Ok, clean up, then we have the cookies," or whatever. Kids love it here, and I love having them but I just will not be disrespected and some of them honestly have NO order at home. I think they like it here because they have some structure. I love them all, and teach them to play together and clean up their work. I told one 5 year old I love you and I love that you play here but these are our nice things, and I would like you to use them wiht respect and leave them the same way and place you found them. He actually pouted for a while, but he came back to our house to play and is much better.
What drives me nuts is the kids who live in houses that are totally a disaster ( I know a few) actually come here and think it's fun to arrange, stay after to help tidy. Two kids I know, one girl is 8 so totally knowing better here.....TRASHES mine and my mom's house within minutes, and her mom has the most emaculate house I know.