From Chaos To Calm: Four Tips for Decluttering Before Christmas

decluttering before christmas

Stuff. You might have too much of it. I know I have in the past. But I don’t anymore. And I can tell you: it’s bliss! The answer? Easy routine decluttering.

Stuff accumulates over time, and as life goes by at the pace it does, many of us let the routine of decluttering fall to the wayside.

Clutter gets particularly intense around the holidays, doesn’t it? My husband and I have a lot of lovely friends and family who generously shower our kids and us with gifts. Every Christmas since having kids, the joys of the holidays have also been paired with feelings of chaos and anxiety, as wrapping paper is ripped to shreds and littered all over the room, commingling with new toys that I’m certain are going to get lost and tossed out with the trash. Coming home after the holidays and unloading the new loot is always overwhelming, no matter how grateful we are to have the privilege of receiving presents. Decluttering is the answer.

In order to maintain some kind of calm amongst the chaos, my family has a ritual of purging before the holidays to make room for the new gifts. Out with the old, in with the new! It’s also a good habit to have before each new year, as clearing out unnecessary, unused stuff is a great way to begin the year with a fresh start. Follow these tips for decluttering, and you will find a new sense of calm and peace in your home.

Don’t love it? Lose it.

One approach my family takes is the KonMari method. If you’re not familiar, get to googling and let this Japanese minimalistic philosophy change your life. The basic idea is simple but profound: if it doesn’t bring you joy, toss it out. Or at least put it in a bin or on a shelf so it doesn’t take up precious space in your everyday life. This goes for clothes, toys, books, or anything else you might be feeling overwhelmed by.

This decluttering method is particularly helpful because it’s really easy to find an excuse to keep everything, even if you haven’t used it in a while. The KonMari philosophy is a good way to ensure that items which don’t serve a true purpose are disposed of, or at least tucked away.

Simplify and organize.

It’s easy to think that more toys equals more play, but the opposite is true. Research shows that having less toys, and an organized space, promotes independent play. Simplicity and organization can actually help children. A relatively organized space with specific spots for various items helps kids learn how to pick up and take care of their environment. A simplified, organized toy space can help encourage imaginative play, as the chaos isn’t too overwhelming. Children’s brains don’t know how to make sense of a chaotic environment; having a small amount of toys in a specific place can inspire independent play.

Consider taking some time before the holidays to go through your kids’ toys, your family’s clothes, etc. (with or without their help, depending on age and willingness), to eliminate the unnecessary and make room for the new items that will need space.

Limit presents with the 4-present rule.

Another option for accumulating less clutter is the 4-present rule: One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, and one thing to read. This is a positive suggestion for family members who have a tendency to go overboard with gifts. They can still give multiple gifts but each one will serve a purpose, without excessive consumption or clutter. Younger kids won’t know the difference, and it’s a great opportunity to have a few discussions with older children about understanding that gifts are exciting, but excess is unnecessary.

Related: 10 Things My Toddler Actually Needs This Christmas

Donate your (quality) excess goods.

This time of year is also a good time to talk to children about helping others. Not everyone can afford heaps of presents, or even the 4-present rule, so decluttering and donating goods to others in need is a wonderful way to help. Be sure to donate quality goods though – shelters and secondhand stores shouldn’t be used as dumping grounds.

Local thrift stores like Goodwill are often looking for gently used children’s clothing and toys, and thrift stores are a good option for low-income families.

Once Upon a Child is a franchise that accepts donations of gently used children’s items, and it’s a decent place to shop for affordable presents.

Toys For Tots is a well-known organization that hosts a yearly nationwide campaign to provide toys for children in need. You can visit their website to learn where to donate your toys.

Shelters for homeless families in your community may organize toy donation opportunities. This homeless shelter directory will help you locate options local to you. is another option for donating used goods to make room for new stuff. Freecycle’s goal is “reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.”

Donationtown is an organization that helps you find local charities that will pick up your donations for free.

Room to Grow is a program that accepts donations for babies and toddlers.

Second Chance Toys has many locations nationwide where you can drop off your gently used toys.

Teaching our children about income inequality and families in need can help inspire them to be more thorough in the decluttering process, as they understand that their toys will be going to kids who truly need them. Combing through unnecessary items can benefit our families by inspiring us to minimize the material possessions in our lives, and we can help others through the process.

Do you declutter before the holidays?

Image: Kris Mouser-Brown

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