The holidays often become a season of excess. We buy more food, watch the piles of gifts continuously stream into our homes, and our calendars fill up while our obligations grow exponentially.
Before you know it, what should be a joyous, relaxing season turns into stress, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy.
One way you can simplify your holiday excess is to work on clearing both the visual and mental clutter from your home!
Here are 10 areas you can declutter in your home before the holidays to ensure a more pleasant holiday season:
1 – Pantry and fridge
One to two weeks before your big holiday events, start working on decluttering your pantry and fridge.
You may even take a no grocery shopping challenge by getting creative with what you already have, and create some space for all those traditional meals and leftovers that will stuff your space in no time at all.
If you have items in your pantry you know you will never eat, now is the perfect time to share with your local food bank to help those in need.
2 – Kid toys
Decluttering with kids can be painful. I get it. However, the holidays are the perfect time to motivate your children to actually help you out!
Kids get excited about the toys and new gifts they know are coming, and oftentimes, if you remind them of this, they will gladly help make room for the new.
Start early, encouraging your children to pick out 5 books or maybe 5 stuffies to let go. Ask them if they have any toys they no longer enjoy.
Start thinking about where new toys will be stored, and make sure to create room in those spaces.
If your children are really young, you can do the decluttering for them. As they get older, they will often need to be participants in deciding what stays and what goes.
Don’t force an all-out clean-out in one day. Children need time to process. Give them time to think about it, encourage filling a box, or ask for a specific number of items.
Do this several times before the holidays, and they will get better each time.
You can also encourage children to donate their gifts to other children in need. Kids are often very generous when they know children may not receive as many new toys.
If your kids are older, you can also encourage them to sell any high value toys, and let them keep the proceeds. This worked well when my children outgrew their Thomas the Train table.
Related post: How to Get Children to Help You Declutter Their Toys
3 – Books
Many booklovers receive new books over the holiday season. Take advantage of this time to make room on your shelves for a couple of new additions.
This is also the perfect time to pick out books you loved and give them to someone else who you know will equally love the book.
One of my favorite budget gift ideas is to grab a book you love, write a personal note to stick into it, and share it. Most folks don’t mind a used book, and it is a super thoughtful way to share something you love.
Related post: How to Declutter Your Books When You are a Book Lover
4 – Kitchen countertops
With the holidays, you will have guests over, lots of food, and plenty of decorations. Give your kitchen counters a little boost by decluttering them before the holidays.
Not sure where to start? Start with the mail pile first.
Recycle any junk mail, flyers, or other items you know you won’t review.
Then, create a “handle soon” folder and stick the rest of the mail in there. It’s not a perfect system, but at least it will clear any mail piles quickly.
For many of us, our countertops become dumping grounds for all the things too. Grab a laundry basket, clear the counters, and ask your family to help put everything where it goes.
Give yourself a clean slate before the holidays start!
Related Post: Clear Your Kitchen Countertops
5 – Clothes
Chances are, you will get at least one new sweater, coat, or other item of clothing this holiday season.
Grab a single bag, and do a quick declutter of your closet! Even if you only clear out five items, you will have made room for that many to enter your closet.
Think of others in need this holiday season too. It’s the perfect time to look for coats and other warm gear you can share with local coat drives or shelters.
6 – Lotions, candles, and throws
Lotions, candles, and throws seem to be the go-to gifts when folks aren’t sure what to give you. These gifts can be fantastic, but start making room for them now!
Do you still have lotions from last Christmas? Either commit to using them up, or help them find a new home if they are still unopened and unused.
If you have lotions or candles that are partially used and don’t like, I give you full permission to throw them away now. 😊
This is a good time to look for blankets and throws you don’t use either. There are plenty of shelters (pet shelters included) that are happy to take your excess throws and blankets.
7 – Gift wrap
Holiday gift wrap is often stored out of the way. Use this time to assess what you own.
After taking inventory, it’s easier to NOT spend money on more stuff, as you know you already have 6 rolls of wrapping paper and 24 recycled gift bags from last year!
Look for bags, boxes, ribbons, paper, etc. that are torn, wrinkled, or generally past their useful life.
Create a storage system for what’s left, and commit to not going over that container to prevent excess clutter from building up.
8 – Holiday décor and ornaments
Holiday décor and ornaments are often used year over year, which is great. However, we all have those few pieces we don’t like but feel obligated to hold on to.
If you aren’t using the same holiday décor and ornaments year over year, it’s totally OK to help them find a new home (or throw them away).
Yes, some of this stuff is passed down to us. I encourage you to either commit to using it or recognizing as long as you hold on to it, it will continue to add to your clutter.
I found myself holding on to some holiday décor that I know was passed down to me or given to me by someone special. For the life of me, I didn’t know it’s story, nor did I use it. At that point, the piece lost its special qualities, and it was OK to let it go.
9 – Giving list
It’s OK to not give presents to every co-worker, neighbor, distant family member, and friend. I want to encourage you to rethink and declutter your gift list this year!
I’m often surprised by how relieved friends, acquaintances, and family members can be when I suggest we no longer do a gift exchange.
If gift giving is causing you stress, both in planning and financially, there’s a good chance it is causing the recipient stress too.
If gift giving is your love language, try to simmer down the level in which you give. Maybe look to share a fresh baked loaf of bread or a used book with a note, rather than a gift you aren’t even sure they will love.
Often times, it is the thoughtful, homemade gifts that are more appreciated than the obligatory gifts that really only add to someone else’s clutter.
10 – Obligations
In order to simplify your entire holiday season, try to cut out the excess obligations that are cluttering your calendar.
Grant it, 2020 has presented unique challenges where we don’t have many of the same obligations, but even with less travel and less events, there’s still a level of stress.
For me personally, we wanted this year to be extra special for our kiddos, a kind of relief from all the crazy.
However, if you aren’t careful, all the extra special activities can often clutter up your calendar and make you feel unnecessarily stressed out.
It’s OK to say “no” to excess obligations and keep the holidays simple.
Declutter before the holidays to prepare your home and mind
The holidays should be a time for joyous activities, time with family, and celebrating what is important to us.
Help yourself keep the holidays simple, and prepare your home by decluttering a few of these quick hit areas in your home so you can kick out the excess and enjoy your time.