Set down your pumpkin spice latte! I want to talk to you about uncluttering those dark and dusty places where you keep the Christmas decorations and traumatic memories from holidays past. What?! Am I proposing yet ANOTHER thing to do during the busiest time of the year for most folks? You betcha. And I can promise you it’s going to be a wonderful gift to yourself.
My process for uncluttering is simple. You’re going to have four boxes or bags that you will label: Pitch (my clients know this as the “go see Jesus” box), Donate, Relocate, and Think About (I call this the Pooh Bear Box since the Bear of Little Brain has to think about a lot of things.)
Seasonal items are a great place to start decluttering because the low hanging fruit is evident – the broken lights, the ornaments you haven’t used in 30 years, and so on. And relics from a former relationship – yeah, that needs to go as well. It really doesn’t take much longer to deal with these items as you’re already rooting around for the decorations anyway.
These items have served for a season (the Christmas one, to be exact) and it’s time for them to go on to the Great Dumpster in the Sky.
The donate box is where usable items go. And I mean stuff that you yourself would buy if you were out thrifting. Items that are chipped, stained, or needing repair need to go into the trash (as much as that pains me to say). If Santa’s sleigh display has been damaged beyond repair from too many rooftop landings, bid him adieu. Many donations to thrift stores end up in the landfill so why add more work to their load?
What might donate items look like? Perhaps the 12-piece setting of Noritake china that hasn’t been used since Nixon was in office. The box of ornaments you never liked but inherited from Aunt Margaret in ’95. If there is family history and story involved, share the story and ask your kids if they would like it. If not, take a picture of the item(s), jot down the story or memory and pass it on to someone who will use and appreciate it.
This is also a good time to whittle down excess kitchen items. Do you need two turkey platters? Do you need 16 Santa wine glasses when there are 3 people in your household?
If you are going to be donating these seasonal items, I urge you to do so sooner than later, when the demand for them is high. If you’ve downsized and have an abundance of decorations, ask around and see if a nursing home or a nonprofit might appreciate them.
The Relocate box is for those items that need to go to a different location. It’s much more convenient and time saving to pile them up in one box and then put items in their proper place near the end of the organizing session.
The Think About box needs to be dealt with carefully. For one who struggles with accumulation, everything can end up here. You know who you are. The important thing about this box is to use it for those items that draw you too deep into the weeds pondering if it should stay or go.
For this box, seal it up at the end of your session and mark the date on it. If it’s still sitting there 6 months or a year later, you’ll know you can safely send it on its way.
A few final words of advice: If you are overwhelmed at the process use a timer and start out with a 10-minute session. And instead of looking at an entire space, just focus on say, one table or one box. You may also find a clutter buddy – one who helps you and you in turn help them. Coffee optional.
PS: Those traumatic memories of holidays past – we’re going to talk about uncluttering emotional clutter. Trust me, Christmas dinner will taste better.
In the meanwhile, Happy Holiday Uncluttering!
Theresa Winn Lode is a professional organizer and certified life coach located in Prescott. She believes fruitcake is the adult equivalent of coal in your stocking.