Clearing Your Clutter BEFORE The Holidays

posted by Andrea | 11/3/2011

Christmas is just over 7 weeks away — are you getting excited yet?

The onset of the holiday season is such a fun time for me. I love decorating my house, finding the perfect gifts {at the perfect prices}, wrapping each gift, sending out holiday cards, doing a bunch of extra holiday baking, attending holiday parties, etc. etc.

However, one thing I almost always do BEFORE the holiday season arrives is declutter my home to make room for all the extra “stuff” that seems to accompany this time of year!

No matter how ruthless you are about bringing things into your home, I can almost guarantee you’ll end up with more stuff and less space after the festivities are over… so why not be proactive this year and make a little extra room for all that stuff that will soon be invading your space! 

Here are some of the mini decluttering projects I’ve tackled or hope to tackle int he next week or so {assuming baby stays inside long enough!}


1. Clothing and Accessories:

Quickly go through your closet/dresser and purge anything you don’t need,  use, want, or love. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit, anything that is stained, ripped, ruined, or totally out-dated. Then leave a few empty hangers available for new holiday items and gifts.

Encourage and help each member of your family do the same thing and then load up all the clothes and head to your local thrift store.

Here’s a little motivation to help you get started:


2. Winter Gear:

For those of you who also live in a cold climate, you know how much winter gear a family needs! And it’s crazy how easy it is to lose one glove, one mitten, one boot, etc. If you have kids, you also know how quickly they grow out of their winter gear. It might have been big on them last year, but now they’ve already out-grown it!

Take some time NOW {before it gets REALLY cold} to purge anything that doesn’t fit or you don’t need, and then make a list of anything you need to purchase for the coming season.

Oh, and if you don’t have a great method for storing your winter gear, that might be something to think about as well. This is how we organized our winter gear at our old house, and I’ll be posting about our new method sometime soon.


3. Receipts:

Many of you know how much I HATE paper clutter — and that goes for all those crumpled up balls of receipts in the bottom of your purse as well!

All that paper clutter weights you down {literally} and if you don’t have a system for organizing your receipts, it’s going to be very difficult to return or exchange any of your holiday purchases.

So, since you are bound to do at least some shopping in the next two months, take time now to go through your old receipts. Purge the ones you don’t need and then set up a system to organize all the receipts you will want to hang onto until your gifts are given.

Here’s some helpful advice on how I organize my holiday receipts… but do whatever works best for you!


4. Pantry, Freezer, Refrigerator:

I really dislike wasting food — but I really, REALLY dislike a messy, unorganized pantry, freezer, and refrigerator! So periodically throughout the year {but especially before the holiday season} I take a couple hours and get my kitchen under control.

I rearrange and re-organize my kitchen cabinets, purge any old or expired food, totally clean out and organize our pantry, fridge, and freezer, and then try to make as many meals as I can come up with using our stockpile of extra food.

Then, I have a bunch more room to stock up on holiday baking essentials — and I usually break out my Christmas dishes around that time too!

More Motivation:


5. Decorations:

I love holiday decorations as much as everyone else, but I’m also pretty ruthless with how much I allow myself to have. And every year, I always try to go through my decorations as I put them up to evaluate whether I really want each item. It’s amazing how many I’m willing to purge each year!

Earlier, I talked about how I used lots of disposable decorations to give our house a festive Fall look. Well, I practice the same concepts for Christmas decorating — using simple evergreen trees, berries, pine cones, branches and twigs, popcorn, advent chains, and simple white lights throughout our home. I also try to wrap my gifts very creatively so they can double as decorations until we give them away.

Many of these decorations won’t need to be stored… which means less clutter for me! 

I’m sure I’ll want to do a little extra decorating this year — since we’re finally in our new house and since I hardly did anything last year. However, as I pack up my holiday decorations, I WILL be purging some… I promise!


6. Gift Wrap and Gifts:

Now is an excellent time to go through all your holiday gift wrap and stock up on anything you might need.

I usually wrap all my gifts in white or brown parchment paper and then use fun tissue paper, bows, ribbons, etc. to make each gift look unique. Oh, and I’m NOT opposed to reusing tissue paper, ribbon, gift bags, or any other form of gift wrap that is still in good condition. That stuff can be expensive!!

I’d also like to encourage you to start thinking about everyone on your gift list this year and see if you can come up with at least one clutter-free gift for each person. I’ve listed some resources below and I will most definitely be talking about more clutter-free gift ideas in the next couple of months… so just start thinking!

More resources:



7. Kid’s Toys, Books, Games, etc.

Yes, I saved the big one for last!

If you have children, you know how much STUFF they get every single year… and you also know that it’s nearly impossible for them to get rid of any of it!

One thing I’ve found that works very well with many of my clients is to explain to the kids that there are other children who don’t have any toys, books, or games and won’t get anything for Christmas. Encourage {and help} them to give freely of their things {don’t force them just yet} and in the process, they’ll be learning a great lesson on giving!

If that method doesn’t work, then simply explain that if they don’t get rid of anything old, they will have no room for new things… which might mean no presents this year. {yup, this usually works with even the most stubborn children!}

Additional ideas to help you get started:


OK, I think that’s enough to keep you busy for the next few weeks!! 

I know it might seem a bit overwhelming to try and tackle some or all of these projects BEFORE the holiday season, but just think how much more overwhelming it will be AFTER the holiday season when you are already exhausted from all the festivities… and have way more clutter to deal with because you didn’t get rid of anything before.

Just pick one project to work on for 15 or 20 minutes today… and then do it again tomorrow. Before you know it, your home will be de-cluttered and ready for more holiday “stuff”!!

What will you declutter first?


Filed under: OrganizingPurging

Leave a comment


  1. Chris


    I think this is an excellent step by step list to help people declutter! Removing junk can be really difficult especially for children. Thanks for sharing this information.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Chris!


  2. Mandy


    I love decluttering and try to do it often. This is not a clutter related question… where are the three little trees from that are on the red hutch? I love them 🙂


  3. Cathy


    Thanks for this post – it was just the motivation I needed to de-clutter and organize in my home. I completely emptied the cabinets in our very small kitchen this weekend and got rid of a lot of things, packed up things that I want to keep but don’t need in my kitchen everyday, and reorganized everything. I now have a place for everything and it feels great to look in my kitchen now. I also redid one of my hall closets and my bedroom closet. I was able to pack up 2 garbage bags of clothes to take to goodwill. I now just have our spare room and another hall closet. Every year I say I am going to do this before Christmas (and my birthday) and never get around to it and my house becomes a disaster by the end of the year, but this year I have a great head start on things. Thanks for all the great ideas!


  4. Lorna


    I need to declutter all of the above! Haha! I think the first thing that gets done will be the kids toy box(es). We have several of them which I rotate in and out of the play room. We also donate toys to others and/or the 2nd hand store. We have a church run store here which sells items and then the income goes toward their soup kitchen or homeless shelter so they get a lot of our extra stuff.

    The only thing I have done toward shopping for the holidays is to purchase fleece jammies for each of the grandbabies – They were less than $9 each at Carter’s recently while on sale and using a 20% coupon. I spent $86 and got jammies for 10 grandbabies plus a few extra odds and ends. 🙂


  5. sarah


    De-cluttering my small house is a constant thing for me, but with Christmas coming and for our family that means birthdays too it is essential that we edit the house clutter down. A few years ago I started playing a game with the kids “keep it or toss it” They Love it! It solves several problems. If it is broken and can’t be fixed it’s trash and out of the house. If it is out grown it gets handed down to a younger friend and out of my house. If it is just an unloved item it gets donated and out of my house. At the end of the day there is less stuff in my house – its a win win all round. And the best part is I don’t have to listen to the “Mum why did you get rid of my…” whining cause it was their idea to off load it.
    We will be starting to go thru stuff in the next week or two.
    My biggest problem this year will be where to put the tree.


  6. Sue


    I just saw the title of your entry for today and I cringe.. I just got done Halloween and Thanksgiving is not even here yet.. Please Christmas do not come so fast.. Let me enjoy the holiday at hand before starting a new one….. LOL

    Sue in NJ


    Andrea Reply:

    Sue, I think you missed the entire point of this post. Christmas and Thanksgiving are NOT here yet… which is why now is the perfect time to start decluttering BEFORE we all get too busy with holiday activities!


    Sue Reply:

    Oh I understand the idea behind the post.. and it is a good one.. I just cannot think about Christmas yet.. ( even though I have started my shopping!)

    Sue in NJ