As much as I love our Christmas tree and the beautiful glow it casts on our living room each night, there’s a part of me that also likes when it’s put away.
That’s because our tree, along with the various Christmas paraphernalia, which covers tabletops, walls, and floors, gives our modest, little home a rather cluttered feel. A lot of what we have that looked fine in the open-floorplan house we used to have makes our current abode seem a tad messy.
And then there are the gifts.
I would never say my children shouldn’t get gifts, or turn my nose up at the generosity of friends and family, but after December 25th, there are a lot of new things in the house that need to be found a home. When I look around after the presents are opened, I see enough paper bits, clothes tags, empty cardboard toy boxes, and garland pieces that were plucked from the tree by sneaky 3-year-olds, not to mention stacks of homeless toys, that I begin to get a twitch in my eye.
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Clutter makes my space feel busy. My eye goes everywhere, and 90% of what I see, I catalogue as things that need doing. But how do you keep your home from being cluttered by all the post-holiday stuff that you find yourself glaring at by New Year’s?
Well, here are five suggestions for how to keep things neat and clutter-free…
- Prep your space. Before any Christmas decorations come out in November, my whole family pitches in to clean up and make room. Think of it like the holiday version of spring cleaning. We dust, wash, vacuum, and organize everything. Bedrooms and closets get straightened, too.
If that seems like too much, then pare it down. Feel free to just clear up the spaces that are going to be in immediate use — the corner where the tree goes, the front lawn where the light-up reindeer will be visiting, and the mantelpiece and tabletops. Remember, if the preparation itself causes eye-twitches, then you’ve gone too far.
- Forgo things that eat up space. We have a desk that needs to move every Christmas. If I could, I’d put it outside for the holidays. But since my kids use it almost every day, it gets moved to a less than optimal location (re: in the hallway). If you have things that can be shuffled out to the garage or to a bedroom to make room for the tree or other holiday pieces, then go for it. And if you can give something away, making permanent room, even better.
Don’t accumulate. As a teenager, I loved decorating my room at Christmastime, and I went all out. Years later, I cringe at the garland, lights, figurines, and mugs that I crammed into my little room. It would make me crazy now.
It is so easy when faced with all the Christmas knickknacks and handmade items to just buy, buy, buy. But all of those small purchases can add up, not just monetarily, but in the physical space that they take up. Be selective in your decorations so that they enhance your home, not overwhelm it.
- Pack with prejudice. In January, when we are putting everything back in its box, bag, and Rubbermaid container, I make sure it all fits. And by that, I mean that I only have two containers for all of our decorations, and one box for the tree. Even the wreath has to fit. If it doesn’t, then it’s off to Goodwill.
I do this to control my buying, so that I know not to get something unless I’m willing to give something up. I also do this to temper my natural hoarder tendencies. The part of me that really thinks I’m going to go through all 300 light bulbs to see which one is breaking the circuit and making the light string not light. But really, that string of lights is just going to take up space, year after year. So if you want to keep the holiday decorations to a minimum, made up of the most important pieces, stick to a set amount or space to fill.
Toy in, toy out. Before Christmas arrives, I tell my kids to go through their room and look for any broken toys or ones with missing pieces that we can get rid of to make room for incoming toys. I also have them gather the toys they no longer play with so that we can donate them. (I admit, I also do a walk-through when they’re not around — they have some of their mom’s hoarder genes).
Doing this keeps them from just wanting more and more, and it also keeps their room somewhat neat. They still have more toys than I like, but since they haven’t asked me to delete books from my Kindle, I can live with it.
Keeping your home a space that brings peace and relaxation is no easy task, especially during the holidays. But taking a few steps before and after can greatly reduce the chances of overwhelming clutter and frustration. Good luck!
Do you feel stressed out by holiday clutter and lack of space? How do you handle the post-holiday stuff that fills your home? Let me know in the comments!
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