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12.15.2016

Out with the old (gifts), in with the new

We all appreciate a thoughtful gift from a friend or loved one during the holidays, but sometimes finding a home for all those gifts in your house can be a challenge. Even if you’ve already taken steps to minimize your “stuff,” bringing in new things this time of year can counteract your great intentions. Keep these ideas in mind this holiday season to avoid clutter and start the New Year feeling calm and organized:

  • Sound the alarm – Don’t wait until you’re opening your third tea kettle to let your friends and family know you’re trying to minimize your belongings. If it’s too late for this year, consider sending an email or talking with everyone you exchange with ahead of the holidays next year to encourage them to consider alternate types of gifts to help you reduce the clutter. They may surprise you by jumping on the bandwagon with you!
  • Mix it up – If your friends or family are on board, think about instituting a Secret Santa, white elephant or other type of gift exchange to enjoy the season while cutting back on the number of gifts you buy and receive (great for your mind, house and wallet!). Again, if the opportunity to start this tradition in 2016 has passed, think about suggesting it for 2017.
  • Do a pre-gift sweep – Before the gift-giving commences, enlist the help of your family to go through your existing belongings to donate or get rid of things that are no longer needed or used.
  • One in, one out – This rule can be applied all year long, but especially at the holidays. For every gift or item you bring home, try to donate, consign, or if absolutely necessary, throw away, something you already own. This helps you maintain calm in your house while possibly helping someone else.
  • Help the holidays last longer – If your kids received more toys than they know what to do with, give them a hand. Pack away some of the toys and swap them out in a month or so – this will keep them interested and avoid boredom (plus they won’t be bugging you for more new toys come February!).
  • Mailing Box Challenge – Online gift shopping has its perks, but the plethora of packaging is not one of them. Cynthia Ewer, author of Cut the Clutter: A Simple Organization Plan for a Clean and Tidy Home, suggests challenging yourself by filling up those mounting shipping boxes with items to donate and getting more out of your house.
  • Organize décor – As you pack up your decorations and ornaments in a few weeks, take a hard look at each item before putting back in the box. If it’s broken or it never left the box in the first place this year, put it in the donate pile (or trash if no other choice).
  • Hold onto those gift cards – Instead of hitting the stores the day after Christmas, keep your gift cards so they are available when you actually need something. For example, you may not really need a new sweater now, but when summer comes around, you’ll be able to get that new swimsuit for vacation thanks to Aunt Sue.

Kick off the new year with a clean and organized home by preventing or at least reining in the holiday clutter. Happy holidays to you and your loved ones!