The Pre-Holiday Household Clutter Purge: Making Space for Gifts

If you are expecting an influx of toys, clothes, and other household gifts this season, why not clear a space for them before they arrive? Thrift stores are often inundated with donations just after the holidays, when other shoppers are no longer hunting for gifts. Giving early ensures that your unwanted stuff can make it into holiday packages while making room for what is coming.

Start small. Taking inventory of all your earthly possessions and eliminating unnecessary clutter is a daunting task any time of the year, let alone during the holiday crush. You might just want to pick one room to focus on and set aside an hour to attack. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Categorize. Make a pile for charitable donation (or perhaps for a community toy swap), a pile of hand-me-downs for friends, and a pile to recycle. You don’t want to donate a sweater with a gaping hole or a truck missing all its wheels to a thrift shop. Consider that the biggest expense for most charitable resale shops is disposing of trashed goods that people misguidedly donate.

Let it go. When packing up those onesies and footy pajamas, I would sometimes fall into a paralyzing state of nostalgia that had me thinking of just how quickly my children’s babyhood was whirring by. At the end of the hour, the floor would be strewn with baby garments, I’d be sad and discouraged, and nothing would get done. It helped me to imagine a lovely little babe (like the one pictured above) being toted into the resale shop and then dressed in the adorable old clothes my child would never again fit into. I’d take a few pictures of my favorite garments, and bravely stuff them in grocery bags destined for the thrift store.

Box up your undecided items. Does it pain you to place certain toys in the thrift store box? Are you worried your child might want to play with it in a few months when it is more developmentally appropriate? Toss it into a storage bin and put it in the garage with the date on top. Some slow afternoon in February you can pull it out again and see what happens. If the toy is again ignored, you know it’s time to pass it on.

You may just find that momentum builds when you have success with just one zone of your home. If you can dedicate just an hour a day to this mission, you can even make your way to cluttered kitchen drawers or start pulling the maternity clothes out of your closet. (I know you probably don’t have a full hour on a daily basis, so you may need to just get rid of three things every day instead of setting aside such a big chunk of time.)

Is it worth it? Yes! People who regularly purge never end up on episodes of “Hoarders,” have more conscious awareness of their stuff, and feel good about sharing unwanted items instead of having to look at them on a daily basis. How nice that being generous with your unwanted stuff can lead to a more peaceful household environment!

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