Declutter Before Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. A time of joy and wonder. A time for family to gather and celebrate. A time of year when houses light up at night and evergreen trees are decorated.

Christmas is also a time of year when stuff accumulates. Gifts abound. Whether it is toys, clothes, or the latest gadget, our homes easily become filled with clutter.

Be Proactive

To help avoid the clutter build-up this year, declutter before Christmas. Create a game for yourself and your kids this Fall. Everyone gets a bag - garbage bag, paper grocery bag, whatever you’ve got to use.

Go through your closet and place items you no longer wear (or have never worn) in the bag. If you still have room in your bag, head to your office or kitchen and continue filling the bag with items that take up space and haven’t been useful to you. If you have kids, have them help you.

Once you’ve filled your bag, have your kids fill their bag. Going through this game first will set a good example for your kids to follow. Have your kids go through their toys and fill their bag. If your kids are older - maybe their items will be clothes and video games.

Once your bags are full, take them to your nearest resale shop - Goodwill, St Vinny’s, etc.

Have a Plan

Now that you’ve decluttered some, create a plan to limit the amount of items that enter your home this holiday season.

Two years ago, my husband and I decided to decrease the number of gifts we gave our children at Christmas. We read about a family that does THREE gifts per child. The thought was - Jesus was given three gifts and they would follow suit. I loved the meaning behind their chosen number. Now when our kids ask - Why do we only get three Christmas presents? We can answer - You get three gifts just like Jesus!

Something new we are going to try this year is categorizing the three gifts. I have heard of want, need, wear, read. You gift your child one thing from each category. Sticking to our number three, our chosen categories are: want, wear, do.

  • Want: This can be any toy they are really wanting this holiday season
  • Wear: This can be anything from a dress, necklace, or ice skates
  • Do: This will be an activity - a day at the children’s museum, heading to the rock climbing gym, going to a see a show at the theater, whatever they are interested in doing.

In addition to the three gifts we also have our girls get a secret gift for one of their sisters. We have them pick a name from a bowl and take them to the dollar store. Last year the three gifts were a coloring book, a bouncy ball, and a my little pony.

While this added to our toy collection a little, our girls were really excited to give a gift. I think having them experience the act of giving is well worth it!

Extended Family

Besides the gifts you (or Santa) give your children, you are bound to have a greater influx of gifts from family members - grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

Here are some great gift ideas for family members to give to those of us who would like to limit the number of items coming into our home:

  1. Think Consumables - coloring books, crayons, art supplies!
  2. A Fun Outing - Maybe the kids can have a fun filled day with their Grandparents!
  3. Magazine Subscription - Highlights, Disney Magazines, National Geographic Kids Magazine
  4. Tickets to an Event - a play, concert, ball game
  5. Activities - bowling, mini golf, movie, etc
  6. Recipe and Ingredients - Set aside a day and cook/bake together
  7. Something they could use every day - a new personalized bath towel with their name
  8. A Gift Card - to a favorite or new restaurant

If extended family still wishes to gift toys, some families like to have the grandparents keep those toys at their home. When the kids come visit - they have those new toys to play with!

If you would like help decluttering before Christmas, contact me at or on my Facebook page. I’m happy to answer decluttering questions via email. And if you live in the Madison, WI area, I would be honored to come to your home and help you declutter!