In this post: Learn how to declutter for Christmas so you can set yourself up to save both time and money during the holiday season.
If you want to get a head start on managing the mess before the wrapping paper is discarded all over the floor and toy bins are stuffed full, I have a few suggestions for how to declutter for Christmas (and other winter celebrations.)
After all, if there was ever a season that could quickly escalate into excess, it is Christmas. So why not head it off at the pass? Prepare now.
Declutter before the holidays, and you’ll be ready for the big day well in advance!
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When should you declutter for Christmas?
I recommend starting sometime between October and November, even if you don’t feel like looking through holiday decor quite yet.
I don’t know about you, but here in the United States from mid-November through the beginning of January feels like one big blur.
That being said, if you thrive on the last-minute adrenaline rush, try to finish up within the first couple of weeks of December so if you find you need to replace anything the stores have not run out yet.
How to declutter before Christmas?
- Go through your holiday wrapping supplies and throw out anything too wrinkled or worn out to use, as well as anything that has run out or is too small to use.
Flattened bows beyond reviving, snippets of ribbon that can’t even be used to decorate cards, tape dispensers with little to no tape, and the last three inches of your favorite wrapping paper are all good examples of what to toss.
Take note of any items you need to restock before the holidays. Do you need new wrapping paper, ribbon, bows, or tape? Have you run out of all those gift bags you’ve kept to reuse? Or do you have enough?
Knowing exactly what to buy at the store to replenish used up supplies, instead of just grabbing tape and ribbons and wrapping paper off the shelves in a hurry, will save you money in the long run. Take inventory now.
- Next, sift through your seasonal decorations.
Has anything broken beyond repair? Is there anything that no longer represents your style? Do you have any formerly sentimental items your kids no longer find important to include on the family tree?
(Don’t worry! I’m not advocating throwing out handprint ornaments and tinsel-pipe cleaner decorations your son or daughter made in preschool. (Unless everyone wants to.) I’m talking about the torn computer paper snowflakes and magazine collage Santas.
Are you planning to decorate in a new theme this year? Is there anything that has broken that needs to be replaced (like tree toppers or ornaments)?
Keep a list of items to replace and donate, sell, or throw out items that you no longer want. Now you will have space to store any new items you get this year.
- Don’t forget to assess your holiday greeting card supplies!
Do you have excess leftover cards or envelopes from the year before to toss? Did your address stamp ink dry up? Are there any duplicate or old addresses in your card list to remove or update? Do you need to add any new friends and family to the list?
Go ahead and check now with your local post office if you want holiday stamps to mail your cards. They frequently run out of holiday stamps in the week or two before Christmas
If you go through your card mailing supplies before Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and you have already had a Christmas Mini photography session in September or October, you’ll be all ready to order photo cards at their lowest prices on sale during Black Friday weekend!
- Next up … baking and cooking supplies!
Check labels on your flour, sugar, spices, decorative candies, sprinkles, frozen ingredients, etc. Toss and replace anything that has expired or been used up. Are there any worn-out pots, pans, or cooking dishes and supplies that need to be tossed and replaced?
Take a few minutes to consider what you’ll likely need for the holiday baking season and purchase them a month or so in advance while supplies are plentiful, so you can avoid the holiday rush and don’t have to look in multiple stores in order to find in-stock items.
- Seasonal clothing is another category to tackle early, especially if you have kids or have recently changed weight significantly.
Go through your holiday best and cold weather clothing and donate or sell outgrown items and throw out or recycle worn-out items and those torn or soiled beyond repair.
Take note of any gaps in your seasonal wardrobe. Do the kids need new mittens or hats? Has your favorite winter coat seen its last days? Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to restock your clothing.
- Speaking of growing out of things, now is a good time to work with your kids to go through old toys.
Declutter anything that is never used, discarded on a regular basis in favor of new toys, missing pieces or parts, or simply too young for your kids now.
For the littlest children, you can go through items quickly on your own. For older kids, get them involved and explain that whatever you donate or sell now will be to make room for Christmas presents soon, or to make money to buy presents for friends and family.
Be prepared for some serious bartering and make use of a “put away for now” box to see if anything is actually missed if they put up a fuss.
Doing this sorting now, before relatives start asking what your kids want for Christmas, will help you avoid duplicates and returns.
- Planning on any travel this holiday season? Go ahead and declutter the car now before it gets cold.
Toss any discarded items under the seats or forgotten in the trunk. Examine luggage and discard items that don’t work or are broken.
Make note of any repairs you need to make to your car before a long road trip to visit family and plan to complete them by early November (so you are ready for Thanksgiving travel, as well!) Start planning any travel reservations now so you are less stressed later in the year.
What else can you do to have a more minimalist Christmas?
If you have kids and you want to avoid having to fight over toys before Christmas next year, now is a great time to start casually making suggestions for experience gifts your kids would really enjoy.
Grandparents and family are always on the lookout for good gift ideas, and they might not consider a zoo membership or weekend getaway at first but might jump at the opportunity to give a gift that would benefit the whole family if presented with the option.
Just be prepared to accept that some people always prefer to give a physical gift and that’s okay. Be gracious about receiving items, no matter what.
Finally, if you get on a roll and want to do even more, I’d suggest finding a decluttering challenge to follow, or just systematically go through your home to make room for the new presents friends and family will likely give you during the holidays. If you know your mom likes to give sweaters every year, maybe go through your sweaters and weed out the ones you never wear anymore. You get the idea.