Have you ever extracted a promise from your child to clean-up an activity only to come back in the room later to a huge mess with the mess-maker no where to be found? This makes my blood boil, so I'm always looking for ways to avoid this situation since a mama with boilin' blood does not a Peaceful Home make.
All of my children have their special "loves." A blanket, a Barney, a chicken, a dog. Those items that no bedtime can be without. Now when one of my little darlings want to play with a special toy with many pieces, work a puzzle, or do a messy craft, they have to offer their "love" in exchange.
I'll put the sacrificial blanket up high in the pantry to be returned when the activity is cleaned up. It's so cute to see Brigitta walk up, holding out her blanket and say, "May I please play Disney Castle?" Things are more often cleaned up with out reminders.
True confession time: One night at bedtime, we couldn't find Brigitta's blanket. Yup, you guessed it. A couple hours later, Emelie walked in the pantry and came out asking, "Why is Bitta's pinkie up on the shelf?" Whoops!