It seems that even before the Christmas songs start on the radio, the hourly emails come pouring in about the steals and deals for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Ads appear on TV for the must-wants and the kids start writing their lists for the must-haves. The messaging this time of year is loud and clear: shop, buy, and spend!
Then comes spilling from beneath the Hanukkah Bush and Christmas Tree what feels like a billion presents from grandparents, aunts and uncles – and don’t forget Santa! The kids sure won’t let you.
As the unwrapped presents start to pile up, do you find yourself wondering, “Where I am going to put all the new stuff? We are already at capacity with the stuff we already have.”
Did you know that while having only a fraction of the world’s children, the U.S. buys 40 percent of the world’s manufactured toys? The struggle is real.
It is difficult to declutter any time of the year due to what I call “emotional clutter blocks.” These blocks are the stories we’ve told ourselves about why we can’t possibly let go of the stuff we don’t want, need or use. This loaded relationship between us and our stuff is never more present than during the holidays.
Which is why I think right before the holidays is the best time of year to declutter! Get ahead of the stuff coming in. Start January with your home in a calm and decluttered place, instead of spending the first few weeks just digging out.
Here are some great tips that will help you declutter and get real about what you really need.
Tame the toys: Take a stroll through your child’s playroom and bedroom. Are they an ocean of multicolored plastic? Could the sheer number of bins needed to contain the toys be an aisle at The Container Store? Are there more toys than your child could play with in a lifetime (but yet they only want the iPad)? Before Santa dumps his sack of toys under the tree, great real about what your child really plays with and why you are buying them so many toys. Is it impossible to say no when they beg for a new Barbie? Maybe you feel guilty that you work so much, so you compensate with toys. Your kid doesn’t have a job, so she isn’t buying those toys for herself, you are. Time to take a good look at why your kid has so much.
Declutter decorations: As you decorate this year, do a deep dive into the holiday decorations. Look at the ones at the bottom of the box, the ones that haven’t been hung in a few years. Are they too beat to put out, or do you just not care for them anymore? Are you hanging onto them because they’ve always been in the family, not because you love and cherish that angel or nativity scene but because you’ll feel too guilty to let it go? If you don’t love and use something, it immediately becomes a burden. It’s all right if you don’t love a family heirloom. Your family bond won’t unravel if that singing Santa never graces your mantel again. Take a photo of these items, text them around to family members and give them to the first one to claim them. If no one wants something, then you can let it go in peace.
Clear your closet: Is your closet full of sparkly “special” clothes that you didn’t wear to last year’s holiday parties? Yet, you’re hearing the siren call of the holiday sales, thinking, “Oh, how can I live without that?” During this jingly jangly emotional time, we often think shopping is the answer. We think that the physical stuff will somehow fill the void the holidays bring up. Maybe this year, you sit with the anger, disappointment, loss or grief to process it, and then move on instead of stuffing it with stuff.
Celebrate with special stuff: As you unwrap this year’s gifts, take notice of the ones you deem “special” and then put away high on a shelf for the perfect occasion to use. As you put it away, do you notice a basket of fancy jams from last year that you never used? A bottle or three of champagne that never got opened? That beautiful candle your sister gave you, but that you never burned because it was “too nice”? If you have a stash of too-nice stuff that languishes in a closet, maybe you don’t feel worthy, or like you don’t deserve something special. Well, you do! Every day. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so let’s celebrate today. Break out the bubbly, soak in the bath salts and burn the beautiful candle. Every day is special, and you are worth it.
May 2020 be the year that you declutter your space by using what you have and celebrating who you are.
Tracy McCubbin, while working for a major television director in L.A., discovered she had the ability to see through any mess and clearly envision a clutter-free space. She soon found more and more people were asking her for help, and dClutterfly was born. Twelve years and thousands of decluttered homes later, she is author of Making Space, Clutter-Free: The Last Book on Decluttering You’ll Ever Need and has been featured in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, goop, Home & Family, Real Simple, mindbodygreen, KTLA Morning Show, KCAL9, and more.