A Season of Stuff – 7 Ways to Prevent Holiday Clutter

7 ways to prevent holiday clutter

Our homes fill up with things a little at a time. Stuff creeps in gradually, until one day we open a closet and realize we can’t squeeze in another single item.

We’re about to enter a season filled with new things arriving on a regular basis–presents, Christmas cards, holiday goodies, calendars, and much more. But what if, at the end of this holiday season, our drawers and closets were actually a little cleaner, neater and less jammed?

Here are 7 areas to watch:

Winter coats, hats, gloves and boots – Let’s go through our cold-weather clothes and accessories now, and give away what we don’t wear. Shelters everywhere are reporting a shortage of warm clothes during this Arctic cold front. Maybe we can clear space in our closets and help those less fortunate at the beginning of the winter season, when our unused gear will do the most good.

Christmas ornaments – Each season, I try to give away the ornaments and decorations we no longer need. As new items come in, I vow to send an equal or greater number of items out the door and not let this collection grow unchecked. I’ve also ended my holiday tradition of buying a new piece for our nativity scene every year, after we had start arranging the family of ducks under the elephants (I’m not sure these were really common Bethlehem animals) to save space.

Food – Our family’s pantry can get really cluttered if I’m not careful. During this season of gifted baking mixes and gourmet food items, let’s try to use up what we already have and keep our cupboards neat and tidy. Holiday food drives are the perfect place to give away those edible items we’ll never use.

Clothes – A holiday sweater here, a glittery scarf there, and pretty soon I can no longer move the hangers in my closet. I now have a rule that if I buy or receive something new, I have to retire one or two items before the new item earns a place in my closet.

Candles – I love receiving candles, but then for some reason I like to put them in the cupboard and hoard them. I blame this on my shared DNA with my cavewoman ancestors who saved their Smoky Sandalwood Amber Mammoth-Musk candles for a rainy day. Here’s my promise:  I’m going to burn more candles this season and enjoy the magical flickering candlelight. I’m also going to give some of my collection away.

Kids’ toys and clothes – When your children are growing like bamboo plants, accumulating toys at a breakneck pace, and not particularly inclined to part with their precious things, your home can soon become a sprawling convergence of Halo 4 action figures populated with a couple of humans. The only recourse I know is to constantly give things away, every single week. Some of this casting off may happen when said children are away from the house. I need to double my efforts during the holiday season.

Papers – You’ve just recovered from the 2014 political season mailings, and now it’s time for the hap-happy season of holiday mail. Catalogs, holiday sales flyers, coupons, Christmas cards and calendars will be flowing into our homes with more force than the blizzard of 1982. It’ll take daily diligence and a conveniently-located recycling bin to keep those papers from stacking up. If you’d like stop receiving certain catalogs, you can input your preferences at Catalog Choice — a free service.  Here are 13 things you can do with Christmas cards. You can also send holiday cards to St. Jude’s Card Recycling, 100 St. Jude Street, P.O. Box 60100, Boulder City, NV 89006.

How about you? Have you discovered any ways to keep Christmas from becoming the Season of Stuff? I always love to hear your ideas and comments.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

Photo by Patrick Q

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

3 comments to A Season of Stuff – 7 Ways to Prevent Holiday Clutter

  • Gloria

    Eliza, I just wanted to take a moment to wish you a very happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving. You haven’t posted for a while and my guess is you are busy, busy. So, I hope you slow down enough to take the day to enjoy all those things (and people!) we have to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!

    PS – I starting burning one of those candles I’ve been saving for I don’t know what… It was nice!

    Gloria

  • Gloria, I can relate so much. I have a sentimental streak, too. At one time we had 16 bins of Christmas decorations, but I’ve slowly been whittling them down. We’re currently at 12, and I hope to eliminate another bin this year. I’m pulling for you and hope your efforts to pare down are fruitful and satisfying. xoxo

  • Gloria

    Eliza, I love your suggestions especially the part about donating things we really don’t need. My mother grew up during the Depression and saved everything. I think I acquired a good portion of that habit. Since my kids are grown with their own children, I’ve handed things down to them but it’s not enough to really pare down all the extras. I have to admit that I’m one of those candle hoarders… just can’t seem to melt those beautiful candles! And the all those shreds of holiday school things my kids made over 30 years ago… I’m such a sentamentalist! But, I’m going to take your suggestions and really try to be firm with myself. I’ve been wanting to clean up and pare down for several years now. Thanks for the encouragement.

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