Spring Cleaning

I Made a “Magic Bag” to Turn My Spring Cleaning Clutter into a Little Treat

published Mar 24, 2023
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When I was growing up, one of the most magical zones in my family home was my mom’s closet. Not just because that’s where the too-big high heels and pre-wrapped Christmas presents lived, but also because of a large Rubbermaid bin that was full of toys. Unfortunately they weren’t for me or my sisters — they were for our friends. An ingenious invention by my mom, the idea was that anytime she found a good deal on a toy, she’d buy it and stash it away so that when the next birthday party arose we could simply go to the bin and pick a gift out rather than having to schlep to the store. It’s been years since any of us lived at home, my mom’s closet looks pretty different, and the gift bin is long gone. I’d almost forgotten about it, actually, until I saw a TikTok touting a similar concept. 

The TikTok video features what the creator calls a “magic bag,” and it’s the perfect use for all of those single-use free samples and little doodads around your home that you like but don’t know quite what to do with. Essentially, you toss those free birthday samples you get from Sephora, the mini bag of dark chocolate-covered almonds you picked up at the Trader Joe’s checkout, or that extra sheet mask into a tote bag, wicker basket, plastic bin, or whatever you have on hand. Then, your very own “gift box” is yours to use as you want.

I love this idea because not only does it create zero waste — in fact, these might be things that could otherwise fall by the wayside if you didn’t collect them — but it also encourages you to see things you already have in a new light. It’s like packing away your summer clothes all winter and rediscovering them on the first warm day.

Maybe your magic bag is where you go when you’re having a dull day and just need a pick-me-up. (If that’s the case, I suggest adding some kind notes into your magic bag — either cards from friends or family or affirmations you’ve written to yourself.) Or, it can be part of a rewards system you create for yourself. Need an incentive to power through that work report? A face mask may be at the end of the tunnel. Feeling unmotivated to get through a spring cleaning task? Reach into the magic bag when you’re done for a little treat. 

Getting a head-start on some spring decluttering is what helped me put together my very own magic bag. Going through my bedside drawer, I discovered more than one lip balm I’d forgotten was there. In a ceramic bowl next to my desk, I found a sweet note from a friend. In my kitchen I collected a partially used Dunkin’ gift card and a Swedish dish towel I haven’t used yet. Throughout my apartment I found a small, unburned candle, a face serum sample, and a travel-sized hand lotion. Into my bag they all went. They’re not items I’ll miss around my apartment — I couldn’t have told you where any of them were before I came across them cleaning up — but they’re all tiny things that will bring me joy, even more so upon rediscovering them when I next need a little boost.