42 Things to Clear Out and Simplify Your Home Before Christmas

Depending on when you're reading this, there are approximately six weeks until Christmas.  You probably have a lot of tasks and events planned for this time, so decluttering might not be high on your to-do list.  But as with any habit, decluttering consistency can yield more rewards (and longer-lasting results) that decluttering intensity.  If you only remove one of these items each day before the holiday, you'll celebrate with a lighter home and a brighter outlook, and prepare yourself for a New Year of being more satisfied with less!

Find more energy and focus by spending just a few minutes each day decluttering.  Most of these categories and suggestions represent several items, so by Christmas you'll be able to remove dozens of things.  You'll feel buoyant and rejuvenated for your festivities.

holiday home

Start in your closet.

You'll notice a big difference when you remove the following items:

1.  Clothes that are irreparably stained, torn, stretched, and/or faded.
2.  Clothes that no longer fit
3.  Clothes you've never worn (you'll see tags hanging)
4.  Gifted items you've never liked
5.  Shoes that hurt your feet
6.  Pieces you haven't worn in two years or more
7.  Formal items you'll never wear again
8.  Excess outerwear (now's the time to donate)
9.  Clothes you're saving as keepsakes for your children

Remove digital clutter.

Even though you can't see it, digital clutter is still there if you're paying for lots of extra storage space or you can't find or deal with things you've saved.

10.  Email
To help keep clutter at bay, open your email inbox just 1-3 times per day.  Each time, click "select all," then at a glance deselect the items you want/need to keep and act on.  Delete the rest.  This will save you so much time and energy, and let you focus on items that need your attention.

Pro tips:  Unsubscribe from marketing emails to reduce the daily flood.  Automatically delete any emails that are more than a month old. 

11.  Digital photos
If you spend way too much time trying to organize your digital photos, consider my approach.  I save all photos on a thumb drive (or you could use a service like Dropbox).   Create folders labeled by year, and store photos for that year there.  I rename each photo (replacing the meaningless numbers assigned by my phone) with a short tag, such as "Elliot Halloween" before putting it in the 2023 folder.  This automatically keeps all “Elliot” photos together, or all “Liam” photos in a group, and so on.

Unless you're a professional photographer, this level of organization is probably enough.  Simplify your storage process, and you'll have less photo chaos going forward.

Pro tip:  If you like, you can use each folder to create a photo book for that year.  I like Shutterfly, but there are other good options like Zazzle and even Walgreen's.  These photo books will become easy-to-store, permanent keepsakes as technology changes.

12.  Social media
Unfollow people and accounts who make you feel inadequate or unhappy, or that drive you to desire and purchase more and more.

13.  Screen time
Spend less time focused on your devices and more time engaging with real life by setting boundaries.  Try any of these 15 suggestions to help.

14.  Podcasts and music
Delete items you don't like or listen to any more.

Increase the size of your kitchen.

Stop giving away prime real estate in your kitchen, and make room for feeding your family and storing the tools you use every day.  Declutter and make more space to connect and enjoy the heart of your home.

15.  Mugs – keep just 2 or 3 per person in your household.
16.  Small appliances you haven't used in a year or more
17.  Food in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer that's past its "use by" date or that you will never eat
18.  Duplicates such as whisks, spatulas, cooking spoons, can openers, measuring devices, etc.
19.  Old and excessive food storage containers
20.  Spices, sauces, and condiments you never use
21.  One-trick ponies, such as strawberry hullers, avocado slicers, or the garlic press
22.  D├ęcor that crowds your countertops

holiday home

Deal with paper.

When it comes to paper, it's not about organizing, it's about saving less.  If the piles keep growing, ask yourself two simple questions:

  • Why should I print this?  Can you save it digitally instead, or even let it go?  Too often, we click "print" without thinking.  By being more thoughtful and intentional, we can prevent waste and piles.  I haven't owned a printer in years, and while I occasionally have a few things printed, it's rare.

  • Do I really need to save this?  Aside from taxes and essential documents, what are you saving that you actually use?  I remember emptying a two-drawer filing cabinet which I had diligently organized over the years.  Hardly any of it was important (less than 10%), and I had never looked at it once it was filed.  My husband removed more than 60 bankers' boxes full of paperwork from his parents' home – all of it forgotten and unnecessary.

23.  Old newspapers and magazines
24.  Anything you've ever clipped out of a newspaper or magazine
25.  Coupons and mailers you won't use
26.  Bills and statements you can get online
27.  Receipts for anything other than tax purposes
28.  Blurry photos, duplicate photos, photos of people you don't know, photos of events you don't want to remember
29.  Children's artwork and schoolwork (save some but not all)

Other stuff

Most of us bring new things into our homes on a regular basis, and if we never clear out it simply adds up.

30.  Extra glasses or sunglasses you don't use
31.  Empty picture frames and albums
32.  Books you've read or will never read
33.  Games the kids have outgrown or that you never play
34.  Old phones, tablets, computers, etc.
35.  Extra cords and chargers
36.  Beauty products you don't use
37.  Extra blankets and tattered sheets
38.  Candles you never burn
39.  Knickknacks you hate to dust and never look at anymore 

Special cases

These things might be hardest to declutter, either because they seem full of meaning or because you just can't imagine living without them.

40.  Junk drawers
Create permanent homes for useful things like batteries, matches, and paperclips, and remove all the things that wind up in junk drawers because you don't use them and don't have a place for them.

41.  Old journals and notebooks
Unless you want your secrets and private thoughts to become public someday, shred these every couple of years.  Of course, if you're Edith Holden, author and illustrator of The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, please publish!*

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

42.  Sentimental items
Now that you're in the flow of decluttering, you may be ready to release some sentimental items.  Less doesn't mean nothing, so if there are items you enjoy, display, or actually use, make room for them in your home.  Meanwhile, release those other things that just take up space.  If it helps, take a picture first, and then let go.

The decluttering habit

Turn these 42 items into a decluttering checklist whenever you find clutter creeping in once again.  If you want to declutter even more, use this weekend declutter guide, remove these 20 things you probably own too many of, or try some five-minute minimalism.  

As you clear things from your home, remember to focus on what you're making room for.  Get a head start on the New Year with more space and new possibilities!

Decluttering can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be.

My new Minimalist Basics series is perfect whether you're just starting on the minimalist path, you're on the way but feel the need of encouragement and reminders, or you have a loved one who's getting interested in the reasons your life is so much more peaceful and fulfilling than it used to be.

The first book in the series, Decluttering, is a pocket-size A to Z guide that breaks the decluttering process into manageable tasks, making it easier to achieve the larger, cleaner, more organized home you're longing for.  It's the cheat sheet you've needed to keep you on track.


  1. Very, very informative and precise article. Nicely written. Thank you.


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