Declutter Your Home for the Holidays

Give yourself the gift of time and space

From Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, many of us are involved in a variety of extra activities including parties, school events with the kids, and family gatherings. Shopping for gifts, holiday baking, and cleaning take up extra time...as though we have it spare.

Before you get the decorations down from the attic, make a quick tour of your home. What is going to be displaced by your seasonal decorating? Have you accumulated clutter that needs to be dealt with before you can put up your tree? Do you enjoy setting out seasonal towels for guests? Will you be making any major purchases as a family gift?

Get organized and declutter now so your new things have a home and the old stuff goes away where it can do some good. The end of the year is an ideal time to donate anything that you haven't used recently. This doesn't mean you need to clean and do a major organizational overhaul.

Instead, do selective pruning.

Hall closets

If you're planning a few parties or family get-togethers, consider clearing out space in the hall closet for your guests' coats by emptying the closet of all the gear it's managed to accumulate during the last year. Outgrown and old items can be tossed into a give-away box; once it's full, take it to the thrift store. Attempt to find permanent homes for useful items close to where they're used.

Once the closet is cleared out, clean and sweep. Add heavy duty coat hangers and a washable mat for the closet floor to catch drippy umbrellas. Add hooks to the inside of the door for hats and scarves and a shoe rack. (Encourage guests to take their shoes off; it will help keep your house clean.)

Main Living Areas

Decorating for the holidays can be minimalistic or over the top. Clear the decks to make room for your decorations and ornaments. Remove all books, magazines, papers, toys, and inactive projects from main living areas. Clear off ALL horizontal surfaces completely. Make sure you have enough seating, but remove extraneous furniture, pictures, and other decorative objects.

Use the put away, give away, and garbage box technique to speed things up. When a container is filled take the appropriate action. Empty and put away everything in the put away box, seal the give away box and put it in the car, and toss the garbage into the can. Even a once over lightly can yield big space saving dividends.

Once you've decluttered, your home will seem more open and inviting. Decorating will be more enjoyable.

The Guest Bathroom

When you anticipate guests, this is one room you want to be in tip top shape with every surface gleaming and ready. Clear off all surfaces and focus your deep cleaning for this room. Put plenty of fresh towels—holiday theme optional—out. Add a scented air freshener or bowl of Christmas potpourri. Offer personal care items as you think appropriate.

The Guest Room

If you'll be hosting overnight guests, prepare a quiet retreat in a separate room if you can. Completely declutter the space, so they have room for their belongings. Clean out the closet in the guest room as you would the hall.

Even if a separate room isn't possible, you can still set aside a decluttered chest or cabinet specifically for their use.

Provide clean linens and comfy blankets, fresh towels, and a basket of toiletries including shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, dental floss. They may not need them, but the thoughtfulness is appreciated.

For guests with special needs, provide amenities that they might need. A small space heater can add extra comfort for elderly parents or a diaper pail for young parents with a new baby.

Sleep one night in the guest room so you can see what's missing. You definitely want to know if the air mattress loses so much air that you're sleeping on the floor by 3 AM.

The more you do this month with respect to thrift store donations, the more you can claim as a deduction on your tax returns, but don't forget to celebrate the season. Do what you must, but no more. There will be time in January for a New Year's Resolution to declutter once and for all.

Books

Cleaning and the Meaning of Life: Simple Solutions to Declutter Your Home and Beautify Your Life

Household Winners for Working Women: Your Personal Organizational Tool Kit to Declutter and Design a Comfortable Home


When getting ready for the holidays, consider hiring a cleaning service to help with getting your home in order. Find a qualified, professional through ContractorNexus .

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