Throw a Packing Party and Gain a Simpler Life Today

So you've decided you want all the benefits of decluttering:  more space, more time, more freedom, and a clearer idea of what really matters to you and how you want to use your energy and money to create your best life.  

But you don't want to spend months slowly paring down your possessions.  Maybe you're afraid you'll get bogged down and sidetracked, or that you'll become discouraged and give up.  Maybe you're just impatient and ready to get on with a streamlined life.

packed boxes stacked to the ceiling

You can do this now.

For more immediate results, follow the example of blogger and motivational speaker Ryan Nicodemus.  He threw a party – a Packing Party.  He and his friend Joshua Fields Millburn (together they're known as The Minimalists) packed all of his belongings as if he were moving.  Kitchenware, clothes, linens, electronics, decorative items, mementos, furniture – everything.  After several hours, it was stacked halfway to the ceiling in his living room.  There were boxes stacked on boxes stacked on boxes.

For the next 21 days, he unpacked only what he needed.

Here's how it works.

I imagine he started with things like personal toiletries, a towel, and a washcloth.  A plate and a bowl and a set of silverware.  His favorite cooking pot and pan, and a few kitchen utensils.  He probably wanted his bed, some sheets, a pillow and a blanket.  A comfortable chair.  A lamp.  His desk and his laptop.  His phone.  The coffeemaker and his favorite mug.  A garbage can and a few cleaning supplies.  A laundry basket.  Some clothes for work and some clothes for play.

Nicodemus spent three weeks unpacking just the items he needed.  If friends came over, he unpacked a few more kitchen items, a table and chairs, maybe a board game or his TV.  Just the stuff that added value to his life.

At the end of three weeks, 80% of his stuff was still packed in boxes.  Just sitting there.  He says he looked at the boxes and couldn't even remember what was in them.  All of the things he had purchased and gone into debt for, that were supposed to make him happy, turned out to be unnecessary to a satisfying life.

He donated and sold all of it.  What a gutsy move!

But he says, "I started to feel rich for the first time in my life.  I felt rich once I got everything out of the way, so I could make room for what really mattered."

Go big or... go smaller.

This is a pretty radical approach to decluttering, but that might be exactly what appeals to you.

Even if you don't think you could go to such an extreme, the concept of a Packing Party is applicable on a smaller scale.  For example:

1.  Pack up your entire kitchen.

Keep out one place setting of dishes, cups, and silverware for each family member.  Then for the next 21 days, unpack only the cookware, utensils, and appliances you need, as you need them.  

It wouldn't surprise me if you find that you use the same tools over and over to prepare daily meals.

At the end of three weeks, donate or sell what was never unpacked.  And don't dig through the boxes before decluttering the contents.  If you haven't needed something, and you can't spontaneously remember a specific item that you plan to use soon (such as canning equipment at the end of summer, for example, or your turkey baster and platter for Thanksgiving), then chances are it's an item that was simply gathering dust before your Packing Party.

2.  Pack up all of your child's toys. 

Leave out the three or four items you've seen him play with most.  Tell him he can ask for one specific additional toy every day for 21 days, provided he actually plays with the toy.  

Don't remind or prompt him to ask for a toy – just unpack it when and if he asks for something specific.  After a week or so, he might not even be asking every day.

At the end of three weeks, donate or sell what's left without digging through the boxes to "discover" items your child never missed.

Keep going.

You could have a Packing Party with clothing, jewelry, games, hobby supplies, or d├ęcor items.  Extend the period of time to three or six months, and you could even experiment with sports equipment, dining room chairs, or guest room furniture.

The Packing Party is a fun challenge for any time.

If you liked this post, you'll love my book, Downsize Now: The Joy of Decluttering for a Fresh Start.*

Whether you actually move from your current home into a smaller living space, or simply undertake a radical declutter like the Packing Party, it's a challenge.  But it's also a chance to reinvent yourself and carry just the essentials into your new life.  By releasing decades'-worth of accumulated items, you can emerge with more energy and freedom.  You're ready to move ahead with: 

  • less stress
  • less housework
  • more comfort and ease
  • more focus and clarity
  • more self-confidence
  • more creativity
  • more gratitude for all you have
  • more time, more room, and more money for what matters most to you.

Get your copy of Downsize Now so you can start discovering these good things today.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you purchase using my links, I may earn a small commission.

Updated July 2022


  1. We did a version of this when we were moving from a house to an RV before Ryan did his packing party. We didn't pack anything; instead we didn't put away the things we used. Kitchen gear we used sat on the counter and we used only from it until we truly needed something else. Clothes we wore moved to a different closet and we only wore those again until we truly needed something else. Toiletries sat on the bathroom counter, etc. It was eye opening! We actually do use 20% of what we own 80% of the time. It was quite a relief to actually move those specific things into the RV and put them away, though. All that clutter during the exercise!!! My way was less intensive than Ryan's but, oh, the mess in the meantime!

    1. A smart way of weeding out what you don't often use, and making it crystal clear which items provide the most value to you! Definitely eye opening, as you say, Linda.


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