How to Get Rid of Holiday Decor with Emotional Baggage, Plus 3 Other Seasonal Decluttering Tips

published Dec 24, 2019
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The holidays can be a hectic time, and while putting up a Christmas tree and hanging twinkly lights brings warm, happy feelings, clutter can add to the stress of the season. To help us spend more quality time with loved ones and less time searching the house for a last-minute Secret Santa gift, we’ve tapped two professional organizers who have shared their top tips for keeping holiday clutter under control. Here’s what they had to say.

Create an incoming and outgoing area to keep track of presents and packages

Having an organizational system for packages, returns, and presents can help save you from cardboard mountains and misplacing gifts (or forgetting to give them entirely).

“With the prevalence and convenience of online shopping, the amount of packages and bags that make their way into the house can be staggering,” organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal (Instagram @rachelorganizes) told Apartment Therapy. “As packages come in, break down the boxes and move them to the recycling bin. Create a folder specifically for receipts and packing slips in case you need them for future reference (and set a reminder on your phone to recycle or shred after the holidays). For gifts that are going out or returns that need to make their way back to the store, put them in a bag near your entrance so that as you head out the door you can take the items with you.”

Keep your home looking neat by storing everyday items in empty holiday decor bins.

Take advantage of the extra empty bins around your house (which were used to keep holiday decorations in) to store everyday items and year-round accents you don’t necessarily need on display this time of year.

“As you empty the bins of holiday decor, declutter your shelves to make room for the holiday stuff and store the everyday items in the empty bins while the holiday decor is on display,” Patty Morrissey (Instagram @pattymorrissey), Mercari organizing expert and founder/CEO of Clear & Cultivate, told Apartment Therapy.

Make room for gifts from family and friends by letting go of things you no longer need.

“Since the holidays mean tons of more items coming into your home, make sure to practice the ‘one thing in, one thing out’ rule,” Rosenthal said. “For example, if your mom got you a great sweater for Christmas, you should take stock of the sweaters you already own. Do some have holes in them that can’t be mended? Does the blue one not fit you right? It’s time for those to go!”

Even before it’s time to open presents, Rosenthal recommends using the holiday season as an opportunity to boost your donation game. “Gently used items ranging from toys and clothing to outdoor gear can be donated to local shelters or holiday-specific drives that may be going on in your area,” she said. “Not only are you clearing space in your home for the new items that will be coming in this holiday season, but you are also giving your unused items to a location or individuals that will get better use out of the items. This is a great time of year to get your family involved in the process!”

Get rid of any holiday decor that carries emotional baggage.

The holidays can be a tough time of year; there’s no need to add additional strain by holding onto items that stir up negative emotions.

Morrissey recommends clearing your holiday decor of any emotional baggage. “This is my first Christmas post-divorce so letting go of the ‘just married’ ornaments was a cathartic process,” she said. “Hold onto the items that have positive energy and allow yourself to release those items which no longer have a purpose in your life.”

At the end of the holiday season, declutter as you’re putting things away.

Taking down holiday decorations isn’t nearly as fun as putting them up, and it can be tempting to shove everything back into their respective boxes, never to be seen again until next year. However taking the extra time to really assess your holiday decor before putting it away is key to ensuring you don’t continue to accumulate unnecessary items year after year.

“When you go to put your holiday decor away, make sure to review what you actually used during the holiday,” Rosenthal said. “Did you love that ornament you just took down? Or could you do without it next holiday season? Take the time to review items and see if they were useful to you this season. If not, it is time to let them go and not just put them into a storage box to hold onto and take up space until next year.”