It is nearing the end of 2017 and I woke up eager to get all our Christmas decorations packed and stored till next year. I gathered my girls and together we started taking down decor trying to figure out the best way to store everything. It didn’t take long for me to be overwhelmed and exhausted. As I looked around at my beautiful home and all the Christmas accessories that I worked so hard put in the perfect spot for Christmas scattered all over the home I really wished for a moment I was back at Showhome Furniture in Calgary.
At Showhome Furniture we are working hard to clear our shelves of Christmas decorations and reorganize our furniture store. This is a busy time loaded with sales, service people and staff working extra long. The music is going and the energy is high as everyone bustles around to make sure that customers get exactly what they need and go away with happy smiles on their faces. This morning I sorely wished for some of those staff members to pop on by and make order out of my chaos! Good thing I have a hot chocolate station to help me drink away my woes!!!
On my own, with only my darling daughters to help we decided to do things differently. After much thought I came up with these following tips to help make decluttering after Christmas easier.
First, make sure that all your new Christmas gifts are put away in their spot. My sister has a rule that for every toy, clothing, or item that comes into the house at Christmas, that something has to go out. She has 11 kids, and swears that this method is life saving and helps keep the clutter down incredibly. The point of this rule, which she uses throughout the year as well except for a few exceptions, is to make sure that you are not slowly gathering more and more stuff. As beautiful as stuff is, if you have too much of it, or it doesn’t have a storage spot, then it will most likely end up causing more work than it is worth. Many people have a similar rule but suggest getting rid of two things for everything that comes in.
Second, as you take down your decorations make sure you sort them as well. Look at what you have. Throw away anything that is broken. Ask yourself if you are going to want to decorate in the same style next year, if you are the type like my mother, that likes to change her decor every year, then do yourself a favor and donate whatever you can now. By donating your accessories you are free from organizing and storing a lot of decor.
I am not the type likes to completely change my decorations each year because it is too much work and costs a lot. This means I have to store my decorations somewhere. Another one of my sister, (I have 5 sisters), puts all her Christmas decorations in a certain color of container. This way when she goes to the garage she knows that all the lime green storage containers are Christmas decorations and she doesn’t ever miss a box. Because you won’t be needing your decorations for another 12 months you might want to store them in your crawl space, attic, or another out of the way spot, leaving the garage free for items that are used more frequently.
Once all the decorations are put away, this is the perfect time for a deep after Christmas clean. I am part Ukrainian, and in Ukraine January 6th is called ‘Wiseman Day’. It is a day of feasting and celebration. One of my sister tells her kids that in order for the wisemen to come to their home on January 6th with all the delicious food that they love the house has to be spotless!
The kids each start on their own rooms first and then slowly over the next week will work a few hours every day as a family to thoroughly clean the house. The idea of one last feast before Christmas is totally put behind them, motivates the kids to clean. I don’t do this, but I love the idea of doing a deep clean after Christmas. When doing the living spaces I work from the top to the bottom. Ceiling fans, walls and counters get cleaned first. Then I dust and spot clean all furniture and vacuuming and mopping last!! To make it extra fun, have a few treats for the kids, order in a pizza (saves you cooking and all the mess that brings), play music loud and make it a game. Together it is amazing how fast a house can get the clean over. When done in a fun way, this can be a great family tradition.
While you are cleaning and clearing, bring in some boxes and put them in the middle of the room. Challenge everyone to try filling up those boxes with stuff to donate to goodwill. Clothing that is too small, books, nick nacks and more. Remind your kids that the more they donate the more they help someone else out. One thing that I have done in the past is call another family up and challenge them to see if the can get rid of more than us. Who ever gets rid of the least stuff has to have the winners over for a yummy dinner!!! This is a great way to make decluttering fun.
If, in your massive cleaning, you come across some new items that just didn’t get the use they deserved, consider putting them in a special spot for ‘regifting’. My mother used to do this, and she would add gifts that she bought on sale throughout the year and whenever there was a birthday we would check her ‘gift closet’ first. It is a good idea to put the name of the person who gave you the gift on the gift so you don’t accidently give the it to the same person.
If book are your weakness, this is a great time to sort through your library and get rid of books you won’t read again, or ones that were not your style. Donating to Goodwill is a great idea, or there are on-line book swaps you can participate in like “Paperback Swap” or “Book Mooch”. This way you can trade your read books for new titles, or get some friends together and do the same things just close to home.
If you find that decluttering is a little hard because you are emotionally attached to some of your stuff then consider inviting a friend over. A friend who wasn’t there when your third grade teacher gave you that mug that now has a broken handle is perfect for helping you clear out the clutter. She will be your ‘sober second thought’ honest in what really is worth keeping and what is not. One trick I have learned to do, is to take pictures of some of my treasures that really are doing nothing more than gather dust. If Grandma’s wedding quilt is never used, and rarely brought out. This could be something that you donate. Yes Grandma likes to be remembered, but she would rather you have a feeling of peace that comes with less stuff. Before donating the quilt to someone who will use and love it, take a picture and put it in a special folder for memorabilia. This is a great way to save kids pictures and drawings without all the paper mess.
This idea, of taking picture of things you love but do not need and is just taking up space can be used to help stop the clutter from entering from your home to begin with. One of my sisters takes her phone with her whenever she goes shopping and if she sees something she loves but maybe isn’t sure if she needs, or she even has a spot for it, she will take a picture of the item. If in a few days she really wants the item then she will go out and purchase it. She has found that just by delaying her purchase by a day, she usually forgets about it and saves herself a lot of money, time, effort and emotional space.
I hope these ideas will help you make this Christmas Decluttering the easiest and best ever. From our family to yours. Happy New Years!!!