Give the Gift of Decluttering

While we at the Organizing Blog often preach minimalism, we still maintain a childlike sense of anticipation about finding brightly wrapped gifts under the tree with our names on it — not to mention the many hours of “retail therapy” that go into giving a thoughtful gift.

But the many new things you’ll give and receive during the holidays do take up space, and when left haphazardly around the home, they become clutter. And when left unchecked, clutter not only crowds tabletops, hallways and closets, it can crowd the mind.

That’s why some of the best gifts are ones that organize all of the stuff in one’s busy life into spaces that make sense — or even cut down on what and how much of any category of thing one hangs onto. Treat decluttering as a gift, and you can show you really care.

This year, try giving things that maximize the space already available in one’s home. SimpleMost suggests 19 clever gifts, for example, that will help your giftees create more storage space in kids’ rooms, mud rooms, kitchens and closets.

Another excellent gift at year’s end is a daily, weekly or monthly calendar, planner or journal. You can’t magically make someone into a Type A, but having a place to write down and organize one’s appointments is a great start. Self offers a number of options.

Some of the best gifts are things that hold other things. Sorting small, like items into a designated place can help keep them from scattering around the house or getting lost. Pop Sugar has selected a bunch of bins, hooks, caddies, shelves and holders that can contain the clutter in style.

You can also give a gift that doesn’t add to the clutter whatsoever. Anything that can be used up is a great choice — homebaked cookies, a nice bottle of wine or a gift basket of gourmet charcuterie. Or you can gift an experience with theater tickets, dinner out at a local restaurant or a spa treatment.

If you get something for which you just can’t find a place, there’s no shame in getting rid of it. The goodwill won’t go unappreciated— even though whatever it is might get lost in a heap of surplus stuff. Quietly set whatever it is aside and include it in your donation to so it can’t clutter your home.

Less clutter means less stress. And who doesn’t want that?!

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 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, 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!

The Declutterer’s Favorite Day

For those engaged in the war on clutter, today is the biggest holiday of the year. True, it may be better recognized across the pond, and there’s a good chance you won’t have the day off to celebrate. What’s more, the occasion’s original purpose isn’t even what many Americans think it is.

But the day after Christmas — Boxing Day — is truly a fantastic time to take inventory of all of the new stuff that came into your home during the holidays, begin taking down those festive decorations, and decide what you want to keep and store.

The likeliest explanation behind Boxing Day’s beginnings says that British nobles and merchants would reward workers for their year of service with boxes of food on the day after Christmas.

Today, however, the event is commonly assumed to be the day people should box up the special-occasion china, Christmas ornaments and gifts that accumulated under the tree, and clean the house for everyday use. And why not? Entertaining guests and exchanging gifts produces both trash and treasure.

Whether you can start your Boxing Day decluttering on Dec. 26 or not, start with the trash. Gather up the shredded wrapping paper, kinked ribbons, dog-eared greeting cards, cracked ornaments, chipped glassware and burned-out lights … and chuck ’em. You don’t want to be unpacking anything less-than-perfect 11 months from now.

Next, there are going to be things you got (or got out) for the holidays that you just don’t like enough to pack away for next year: holiday supplies, mismatched decorations, tired tchotchkes and other odds-and-ends. If they no longer fit your holiday scheme and are in decent shape, don’t hide them in a closet! Bag them up and set them aside.

Now, find a place for the new stuff you and your family received as gifts. Is any of it an upgraded version of something you already have? You really don’t need that old sweater, extra gadget or whatever it is — you have a brand-new one! Bag or box those duplicates.

Note: If you really want to do a complete post-Christmas cleanup, get rid of two things for every new thing you try to integrate into your home and life, says Zen Habits. That way, you’ll get to enjoy your new gifts in a more clutter-free environment.

Finally, take all of those bagged and boxed castoffs and contact to schedule a pickup. Within weeks, a truck will take those unwanted items off your hands, and they will be resold to support programs benefitting veterans.

And that will help make the New Year happier for you, your family and those who served. Here’s to a clutter-free 2018!

Organize Your Holiday Gift-Giving

With less than two weeks left until Christmas, many people are starting to feel the stress of the holidays — especially if they still have gifts to buy. It was relatively easy to shop until this point in the season, but the pressure is now on to find, buy, wrap and give those special gifts for everyone on your list.

If you like to shop online (and who doesn’t?), you must allow time for whatever it is to travel from the warehouse to your door in time for you to get it under the tree. This year, Free Shipping Day — the day many retailers offer to ship purchases free of charge with the guarantee they will arrive in time for the holiday — is Friday, Dec. 15. After that date, shoppers will need to pay expedited shipping fees or brave the crowds in stores to get their gifts in time.

The organized giver, however, has a list of people for whom they will be buying. If you make such a list ahead of time and stick to it, says Step-by-Step Declutter, you can avoid overspending and slash the stress of shopping. Use a spreadsheet to track recipients, gift ideas, spending and progress, but don’t feel you have to buy for everyone. Sometimes, a thoughtful card will show you care without adding to the clutter.

Several apps can help you manage your holiday shopping. Santa’s Bag can track your shopping list and spending on the iPhone, while Christmas Gift List can do the same on the Android OS. Stuck for ideas? Invite the giftees on your list — especially the kids — to make their wants known with an Amazon Wish List, which functions like a bridal gift registry for any occasion throughout the year.

If you go shopping during the last two weeks of the season, get creative by going beyond the strip mall. Thrift stores — many supplied by generous donations to — are a great place to find unique, vintage items at low prices. Or you can give a home-cooked meal, baked goods, fruit or flowers instead of something that just adds to the clutter, Cambria Mortgage’s gift guide suggests.

You can share your knack for decluttering and still score a gifting “win” by giving the people on your list an experience instead of a thing, says the Our Streamlined Life blog. Give an Airbnb gift card to inspire adventures for those who like to travel frequently, or sponsor an evening class to encourage someone on your list to build a skill that will last a lifetime.

Some people will want things, of course, and once you buy them, you can keep the household clutter in check by establishing a gift-wrapping station. Better still, keep those rolls of paper, tape and ribbons in a single storage bin that you can pull out and put away quickly for every wrapping session.

An organized gift-giver is a confident, successful and stress-free gift-giver. And who knows? Maybe your penchant for organization will spread, and the gifts you get will be great, too. Happy Holidays!

Buy Only What You Need During Cyber Week

The holiday season is in full swing, and retailers eager to end the year on a profitable note are publicizing deals by the boatload for Cyber Week — the busiest online shopping days of the year.

The deals are tantalizing. How could you not buy that toy/game/gadget when the price is so low? But if you let yourself get carried away with the perceived savings, you may just run out of money altogether — and the space to put those things.

As a busy consumer shopping for gifts and other goods, you should make every attempt to spend only what you need to spend during the holidays. Some of the deals online and in stores this week are truly once-in-a-lifetime, but you and your giftees may not really need whatever it is.

There are things to consider buying during Cyber Week, of course. First, Buzzfeed says, you should look for great deals on household items you already use, appliances you’ve held off on buying, electronics, shoes and more.

But approach your shopping with a focus on what you (and the people you buy for) can really use and appreciate. “Ask yourself whether you would buy it if it weren’t on sale,” Apartment Therapy advises. “Is it on your list? Do you need it? What makes it a ‘good deal’?”

Buy or receive too many things, and you may not have enough space for all of the junk (er, merchandise) changing hands during the holidays. If you’re a longtime reader of the Organizing Blog, you may have some room for new stuff, but keeping your life clear of clutter is an ongoing process.

Try the “one in, two out” rule as you accumulate things this season: For every new item you allow into your home, donate or trash two to make room. Even if you try to cheat the rule by balancing large items with small ones, you will eventually slash your levels of stuff.

Alternatively, try to buy yourself and others only “uncluttered gifts” that get used up fast, such as candy, wine or dinners out. Also good are gift certificates and event tickets; they show you care while creating memories instead of clutter.

Finally, today is Giving Tuesday — the annual event that encourages donations of money and time to nonprofit organizations and causes. Participate in it, and not only will you keep unnecessary stuff out of your life, you’ll get a warm feeling that lasts all season long.