The holiday season brings more clutter to fill up our houses than any other time of year. Add that to being cooped up inside (at least here in the Northeast) for several months and you would be forgiven for wanting to throw everything out in a dumpster and just start over. However, a more realistic route is to spend a few weeks going through each room drawer by drawer (twice, you will always miss something) and weed out items that no longer have a place in your home. Pull out:
- Excessive multiples – You do not need 8 wooden spoons or 12 black tank tops if you only really use 1 or 2 regularly. A bed can only have one sheet set on at a time, plus one or two spares. Having 8 editions of the Bible does not make you more Christian.
- Aspirational items – Craft supplies you will not use (yes, you could start knitting again, but are you really going to?), clothes five sizes too small, items that you hold onto because they were expensive (if you don’t like a designer sweater, it’s still a sweater you don’t like or wear cluttering up your life), supplies for activities you wish you did (if your idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn, get rid of the camping gear)
- Sentimental items – It’s okay to have a few sentimental items but most of us have way more. You are not going to wear your prom dress again and odds are your daughter will want something without the puff sleeves. Let her pick her own. Someone else can use it now. Keep one or two onesies if your youngest kid is now 6 and donate the rest. Your Grandma may have collected tea services but if you don’t drink the stuff, pick your favorite and let the rest go to someone who will use them rather than gathering dust in the closet. You get the gist.
- Previously useful items – Twin sheets if you updated to a queen. Old dressers, rugs, school supplies now that you finished grad school, children’s books and toys that your kids have outgrown, movies you only needed to see once, books you won’t read again
- Junk – Cheap plastic toys, company freebies (pens that don’t write well, random balls, etc.), gifts that made you question the gift-giver’s sanity (oh what a nice statue of One Direction. Umm, thanks)
If you don’t absolutely love an item or haven’t used it in the past year, it’s time to let it go. Odds are, you can afford to replace it in the very unlikely event you want to take up rollerblading again. Now the cool part is that someone somewhere would probably be quite happy to have your item. After you’ve pulled aside all unwanted items, divide into four piles:
- Sell – You don’t have to hold a yard sale to make some money on your unwanted stuff. High value items in good condition can be sold easily on Ebay or Craigslist – think video games and systems, high end baby gear, collectibles, textbooks. Bigger items like furniture can be sold locally on Craigslist.
- Donate – Just about any item in decent condition can be donated somewhere. Goodwill and Salvation Army take a large range of items. Look for my follow up post on where to donate specialty items like eyeglasses, electronics, bras, and more.
- Recycle – If an item is no longer useful and is not easily repaired, see if it can be recycled. Glass items, plastics, old papers, etc. can often be recycled at home while electronics, batteries, etc. can be taken to local centers.
- Trash – Items that can’t be sold, donated, or recycled have no place in your home — throw them out! This should be a very small number of items. Be sure to properly dispose of potentially dangerous castaways, such as old pills, chemicals, etc.
Do you use January as a chance to go through your house? Do you have any tips for where to get rid of certain items?