Declutter and Donate Ahead of the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and every day, retailers provide us with new incentives to spend: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday. But those thoughtful gifts and doorbuster deals can take up lots of space in an already-cluttered home. That’s why you should do a pre-Christmas decluttering, knowing that new stuff is on the way.

If you have children, there will definitely be new toys coming into the home, and you probably have huge bins of old toys that have fallen out of favor or are no longer age-appropriate. Sort through them and get rid of anything broken or incomplete, The (Mostly) Simple Life suggests, and involve kids in the process. Set aside anything that’s useful, but unused.

As you decorate the home, edit out any decorations that no longer make the cut. Whether it’s burned-out string lights, cracked tree ornaments or dog-eared accents, trash anything that’s too worn to fulfill its function. If something is still functional, but you don’t like it or want to display it, set it aside in a “donate” pile.

This is also an excellent time to take stock of cold-weather clothing. If there are items you won’t be wearing due to changes in sizes or styles, set them aside. At the same time, you can sort, streamline and store your summer wardrobe. Was there anything that spent the entire summer in your drawers and closets? Get rid of it!

Put all of the still-usable castoff decorations, games, toys, sweaters, swimwear and other goods into boxes and bags, and visit ClothingDonations.org to schedule a pickup. If you do so quickly, many of your unique but unwanted items will be available to other shoppers for purchase ahead of Christmas — making their holidays happier.

When you give away the stuff you’re not using, it can find a new purpose with someone else who can really use it. They might actually want and enjoy that stuffed Santa or those old baby clothes. And when they purchase those disused items through a thrift store supplied by ClothingDonations.org, they will help fund veterans’ programs throughout the year.

An added bonus? After you’ve done a thorough, pre-holiday decluttering, you’ll know better what you and your family need to buy new — making holiday shopping and gifting easier. Better still, you’ll have reclaimed the space in your home you need to store it. Start decluttering today — Giving Tuesday — for a happy holiday season!

Don’t Treat Holiday Shopping Like a Job

While most stores will stay closed through the Thanksgiving holiday, a handful of major retailers such as Target and JCPenney will be open late Thursday to launch the make-or-break holiday shopping season. The Organizing Blog doesn’t necessarily approve of shopping while you’re supposed to be feasting, but knows that a few readers may attempt to beat the crowds and get the best deals. Dress to go from cold, outdoor weather to warm stores quickly, Money Crashers says, and don’t treat shopping like a job. “No matter what happens on Black Friday, remember to relax and try to enjoy yourself. Shopping for holiday gifts isn’t the highest-stakes thing you’ll do this year.”

Make a Budget for Black Friday

To ensure you don’t overspend at the Black Friday sales this week, start out with a strict budget, Consumer Reports advises. Whether you do most of your holiday shopping in-store or online, decide how much you’re ultimately going to spend, and stick to that number. If you are not sure that you’re getting the best price on something, move on to the next web page or display. And if you can’t resist using a credit card to overspend, only carry cash to stores instead. Finally, check retailers’ return and exchange policies on Black Friday items to avoid paying a restocking fee or having to keep merchandise you don’t want.

Make the Most of Black Friday

There are plenty of ways to maximize the savings Black Friday offers, says money-saving site Clark.com. Sign up for e-mail promotions at your favorite retailers before you head out to the stores, for example, and price-check items against the web while in stores. Make a list of the retailers you most want to visit and bring a friend who’s similarly motivated to find deals. But leave the kids at home if you want to do some serious shopping — you don’t need the distractions. Shop early or late to avoid the worst crowds, and above all, remember that not every low price is truly a deal.

Make Room for Your Black Friday Buys

Since the advent of the indoor mall, the day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday — has become a holiday unto itself. The overwhelming, all-American desire to get a good deal on holiday gifts has made the day a huge event for consumers. And retailers are only too happy to oblige, since many chains look to the last two months of the year as their biggest opportunity to command a profit for the year.

Retail stores expect to post $3 billion in sales this Friday, up 11.5% from 2015. And Black Friday’s online corollary, Cyber Monday, is set to match those figures. In fact, Black Friday is no longer just a single day; Amazon launched 35 straight days of “Black Friday” promotions last week, offering a new deal every five minutes through Dec. 22. And eBay, Macy’s, Target and Walmart aren’t far behind; many retail stores will open when the sun sets on the Thanksgiving feast.

As you head to the malls and superstores this year to get a great deal on a big-screen TV or Playstation VR system, don’t forget that you’ll have to make room for those bargain finds. Because for every people-pleasing gift of Black Fridays past, there’s a sweater that just didn’t fit, a toy nobody liked or a countertop appliance that was used once before getting shoved to the back of a closet.

Bag up that unwanted apparel and other items and call ClothingDonations.org for a pickup. They’ll be taken to a thrift shop and resold, putting them into the hands of people who use and appreciate them while funding programs that benefit the nation’s veterans. You’ll earn a tax deduction, and be secure in the knowledge that the deals you found on previous Black Fridays and abandoned won’t add to landfills.

You’ll also give thanks for the newfound space you can use to hide any deals you find this Black Friday and Cyber Monday before you wrap them up for gift-giving. And that will make for happy shopping and a happy holiday!