December is a great time to declutter.
Not only can you make room for the tree and for gifts, but you can help the whole family feel less overwhelmed by holiday bustle and stress. A Pre-Christmas Clear Out benefits everyone in so many ways:
- You're free to enjoy the fun of the season.
- You're prepared for guests.
- You're aware of how much you already have, causing gratitude and contentment.
- You're aware of what your family needs, so you can suggest suitable gift ideas to those who ask.
- You begin the new year feeling more in control of your home, already started on the road to less clutter and more freedom.
You're extra busy, so this clear out is not an intense purge. It's a quick, refreshing chance to set the stage for all that the holiday will bring. None of these projects should bog you down or take more than an hour or so; in fact, several can be done in about fifteen minutes.
Feeling ready? Let's begin.
Start with your children's spaces.
Much of holiday gift-giving centers around children, which is wonderful. But even if you're pleading for restraint from family and friends, chances are your kids will receive more than they need. Increase their pleasure for receiving new things by teaching them to clear out some of the old.
- Throw out toys that are broken or missing pieces.
- Toss the freebies that came with kid's meals or as party favors.
- Remove toys your child has outgrown, and let him donate these to a daycare center, preschool, or family homeless shelter.
- Trash hopelessly stained clothing.
- Donate outgrown clothes in good condition.
Streamline your closet.
Simplify getting dressed in the morning or ready for evening activities by paring down your wardrobe to what you actually use and what makes you feel confident and attractive.
- Give away clothing that isn't right for you (not your color, cut, or style)
- Return clothes that still have the tags on, unless you can make a plan to wear them this month.
- Donate clothes that don't fit.
- Toss stained or ripped clothing, or cut up for rags.
- Give extra winter gear to a homeless shelter.
Declutter your kitchen.
This is an area where the unused and unnecessary can really hinder efforts to celebrate the season, since so many holiday rituals and traditions involve food. Make meal and treat preparation 100% easier.
- Clear the pantry of foods past their expiration date, and food you're never going to eat. Toss the outdated, and give usable items to the local food bank.
- Throw away old foods from the refrigerator, and empty it completely. Mix 2 cups hot water, 1 cup white vinegar, and 10 drops lemon essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray inside the fridge, let sit for a couple of minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth. Restock.
- Donate duplicates, such as extra gadgets, novelty mugs, your third set of dishes, and any small appliances you bought during the year (or received as a gift last Christmas!) that haven't become well-used, go-to items.
- Delete the junk drawer. You will never need 59 rubber bands and 48 twist ties. Or Taco Bell receipts. Or power cords and keys for items you no longer own.
Even if you aren't hosting overnight guests, you'll want to be ready when your neighbor drops by and your cousin brings his fiancé to dinner.
- Prepare a hot drinks tray with a selection of tea bags, honey, cocoa packets, peppermint stirrers, a small pitcher for milk, mugs and teaspoons, and an insulated carafe for hot water. Just boil the kettle and serve your guest.
- Inspect the linen closet. Repurpose stained and frayed items (pet shelters welcome old towels), donate duplicates, and wash or air out items you haven't used since last winter.
- Put clean sheets on the guest bed and an extra blanket folded across the foot.
- Remove items stored under the bed. Either donate them or find another place to store them.
- Free up space in the closet for a luggage rack and a few empty hangers.
Refresh your bathroom.
In the bathroom, pristine and uncluttered beats crowded and grungy every time.
- Dump half-used products you didn't like down the drain (where they'd end up anyway) and recycle the bottles.
- Discard unused or expired medications in a sealed plastic bag mixed with coffee grounds or kitty litter to discourage scavengers.
- Toss old makeup and simplify your routine. Do you use three types of foundation or five shades of lipstick? Keep only your favorite.
- Use your nice towels and get rid of the mismatched junk.
- Clear the counter of all but hand soap and maybe a scented candle or reed diffuser. Store products you use every day in the space freed by decluttering.
Live in your living room.
For many of us, the living room has become the place where we watch television. Wouldn't you rather encourage conversation, board games, reading, and listening to music?
- Make space by permanently removing one or more pieces of furniture. Do you need a couch, a love seat, and three arm chairs? Can you wall-mount the TV and remove the entertainment center?
- Move the television to a side wall, rather than the focal wall.
- Arrange seating to face each other, rather than the TV. Place a low table in the center of the conversation group.
- Fill a basket with holiday books, and make it convenient to play music. Keep some favorite board games nearby.
- Remove all knickknacks and dust the tables, shelves, and mantel. Maybe it's time to let go of items you barely notice any more! Leave end tables clear, and choose one item, such as the creche set or a blooming poinsettia, to decorate the coffee table. Display groups of candles or your Santa figurines on the mantel. Decorate the tree and call it done!