Tips for Decluttering During the Holiday Season

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Santa, baby, put something under the tree for me, like my own personal cleaning person and Marie Kondo for a bonus, please. Is that too much to ask? The holidays are the ultimate clutter-creator. The fridge is brimming with leftovers, the playroom is spilling over into every room of the house and coats are piled up everywhere. But, with a little planning, and perhaps a little luck, this avalanche of clutter may not have to befall your home after all. Gretchen Ruben, author of, “The Happiness Project,” talks about the importance of having an empty shelf in your home, because it ignites the imagination thinking of all the possibilities an empty space holds.

Here are some tips for decluttering each area of your home.

The Kitchen

Do you ever look at your kitchen during the holiday season and think perhaps you were a little too ambitious with your cooking and baking plans? There are 45 holiday tins stacked up awaiting your homemade fudge, two free-range turkeys you bought on sale a month ago are in the freezer ready to create the most extra holiday meal ever, and everyone knows your turkey is never dry (queue the scene from Christmas Vacation where the turkey is carved to expose only bones inside). All this not to mention the fact that you have a ton of leftovers in the fridge and your counters are covered in flour from that special pie you tried to make with no avail.

Let’s just stop right here.

It’s time to purge the kitchen. Start with exposing the countertops. Declutter the countertops and throw away anything that you are not really going to use. Disperse items that don’t belong in the kitchen to their proper locations (toys on the counter, I see you). Now it’s time to clutter them back up. Remove every item from the refrigerator, wipe it down, and as you place each item back in determine if it’s something that is really going to be eaten, or if it’s trash. Now rinse and repeat for the pantry. Also, consider donating to a local food pantry if you have unnecessary pantry items that are still good.

If you’re feeling particularly studious in your efforts to become a decluttering guru, take things out of the cabinets one cabinet at a time. You may be surprised to find that pizza maker you asked for on your wedding registry 15 years ago and used once, or a bread maker that you suddenly feel inspired to try out. Get rid of some of these old gadgets that are making your kitchen feel cluttered.

The Bedroom

There are two kinds of people in the world, people who keep every article of clothing they have ever owned since high school (including maternity clothes), and people who call themselves minimalists and have a capsule wardrobe (the people all clothing hoarders roll their eyes at). The holiday season seems to exacerbate wardrobe issues for both camps. Nothing can prepare you for Oklahoma weather. One day it’s 70 degrees and sunny in November, the next it’s pouring down rain, and yet the next you’re wielding an ice pick to break yourself out of your igloo.

Everyone talks about Spring cleaning, but really the changing of any season in general is a great time to go through things, especially clothing items, and determine if those items can best serve you in this season. And when we say clothes, we are talking about shoes too. Yes, this can be a painful process. When considering what clothes to eliminate one essential question to ask yourself is, have I worn this item in the last 3-6 months? Odds are, if you feel like you have nothing to wear, it’s time for a clothing purge. It’s difficult, but it must be done, or you’ll end up swimming around in the laundry to find your bed.

So you’ve identified the biggest clothing clutter offenders, now what do you do with the pile? It’s tempting to walk away and finish later, but now is the time to complete the job while you are in the mindset to clean. There are a lot of options here. If you are tech-savvy and fairly organized, you can make some side money selling your nice gently used clothes on a number of sites like eBay, Poshmark and Facebook marketplace. There are also local consignment shops that you may have success selling to like Once Upon a Child. But if this is not for you and it just sounds like an extra stressor, take it to the Goodwill!

Other things that can be done in the bedroom to declutter include old costume jewelry littering the top of those dressers, broken reading glasses and bits of paper like old mail and notes. Another huge clutter offender that often gets neglected is the sock and underwear drawer. Are you really going to wear that waist trainer that you put on once ten years ago?

There are lots of organizers out there to help you make the most of a small space including decorative baskets, drawer dividers, stacking shoe storage bins with drawers (you don’t have to just use them for shoes), hooks for hangers to make the most of vertical closet space, under bed storage containers and more. Buy one and give it a go! TJ Max is a great place to find items like this for cheap.

The Playroom

This is a tough one, and there is really no “right” way to go about discarding children’s toys, because it is up to the parent whether you include your children in the process or decide yourself what needs to go. Whatever you choose to do, creating a few guidelines for the process will help move it along. Consider if the toy is broken, from a Happy Meal or the dollar store, how long it has been since you have seen your child play with the toy, and how it may or may not benefit them at a learning capacity.

If including your child in the process is a part of your plan, you may ask them some of these questions and then impress upon them the benefits of donating including that their toys get new life and love from another child. Another benefit your child may find even more appealing is that the more toys that are donated, the more space in your home for new toys this holiday season.

Cube shelves are a great way to organize a playroom, and for the smaller toys inexpensive cube shelf bins are a great way to organize them and keep them up off the floor. Cube shelves like the Ikea Kallax can typically be found easily on the Facebook Marketplace. Other easy organizing tactics are 3M hooks to utilize vertical wall space and hang things like play kitchen aprons and dress-up hats. If your kids are particularly rough on things, the dollar store is a great place to purchase plastic buckets for kids’ room organization because even if they sit in one and break it, it’s a dollar and you can easily get a new one.

Artwork is a tough one because you want to preserve all the crafts showcasing their cognitive development, but who has the space for stacks of paper? There are now some innovative frames for kids’ art that open up and hold about 50 pieces of paper and act as an ever-changing decorative centerpiece for your home. Another option is to take photos with your phone of all your child’s artwork and store them in an album on your device and maybe once a year print a photobook from Shutterfly or one of the many other photography printing studios to preserve those memories in a more compact and easily navigable format.