Q: Our family loves the holidays but it seems like every year, we get swallowed up with boxes, extra mail, toys, and gifts coming in from the grandparents; winter clothing that comes out of storage; and all the little accessories or parts to assembly projects that didn’t quite work out. We’re so busy of course, how can we avoid this mess?
A: Whether you shop in town or online, the holiday season certainly brings a lot of extra packaging and projects. However, it’s a challenge any time of year to stay on top of clutter no matter the source. Gifts coming and going, extra catalogs, cards, and mail, party supplies, and decorations all add up to quite the stack on counters, tables, and the floor.
It’s tempting, of course, to suggest decluttering before the holidays. In reality it’s usually too late by the time we notice how overwhelmed we feel. Try for next year, put it on your calendar for say, August. Or better yet consciously set a year-round intention of a less cluttered, more organized home. More effective than a resolution, this is how good new habits can form.
This season, before you shop for your parties and entertainment, plan ahead. Clear out cabinet space for your supplies by tossing the items and foods that have been stored for too long. Actually consume the beautiful food gifts and fancy wines you receive. Enjoy making any day a special occasion, and save yourself the trouble of storing it indefinitely.
Be very diligent about filing, shredding, or recycling the mail and packaging as soon as you go to put it down. Save energy by sorting the important mail, putting junk in the shredder, or recycling it immediately. That stack you’re saving for later quickly grows, and suddenly it’s a big chore to deal with. And when you are out and about, resist the urge to pick up paper fliers, maps, cards, menus, etc. you think you’ll need later. Take a photo instead.
Have dedicated spaces for supplies, and buy only the supplies you need. Create one place per category, including gift wrap, extension cords, reusable bottles or jars, and paper bags, or plastic bags for walking your pups. If that is full, recycle or toss the leftovers because you already have too much of it. For gift wrap, craft supplies, or other hobby items, make sure new additions you buy will fit.
Keep one of those larger boxes you think you should save out to collect items to donate. Having a place to put those things makes it much easier to get rid of. Also, resist the urge to collect and store several of these large boxes for future use. Don’t worry, a new box will come along soon enough.