Updated: Sep 29, 2019
For the past several weeks, I’ve been posting on social media about some holiday prep ideas to help you get your home ready for Christmas this year. With the holidays fast approaching (and if you’re like me, this reality instills just a little bit of panic), I’ve decided to share these tips and some of my own decluttering projects so we can work together to get our homes ready for the holidays. This post is a compilation of those Facebook and Instagram posts to the present, so read on for my real-life examples of what I'm doing this year to get through it all with flying colors.
First: We need to become visitors in our own house. Walk through like you’re seeing everything for the first time. Follow along with these points, take some action, any action, and together we can conquer the CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) so that we can invite guests over, and enjoy their company once they arrive.
We will start in a unusual place, but go with me here. There is a method for my madness. Let’s make our wardrobes, and those of our family, our first priority instead of an afterthought the sends us rushing to the store to try to find those last-minute accessories or outfits. Start with your own closet and you will be practiced up for everyone else’s. This really won't take much time. Don't labor over it and you can finish in an hour or less.
1. Ok now, step into your closet and take a good look at your clothes. Remove the pieces that are your favorites AND that fit well. Spread the keepers out on the bed.
2. Now take out the definite NO’s. The ones that you never wore last year, don’t fit or you don’t like, or are damaged. Put them in a bag or bin for now.
3. It’s now time to look at the rest. Move the ones into the “keep” area that go well with the other keepers, preferably ones that work well with multiple items.
4. Your closet should be relatively empty by now. If there are any strays left (clothes that don’t go well with the others, colors that aren’t “you”, things that are just “eh”) put them aside in a bin or bag.
5. Put all of the things in your “to keep” area back into the closet, preferably arranged according to color or type or length (not mandatory, it’s just the organizer in me).
6. As for the “no’s”-they can go away: either donate, throw out or sell (and do it ASAP, before they have time to become a fixture anywhere in your house).
7. Lastly, the strays: Decide if you need to shop for items to wear with them, or add them to a “keep for later” storage space and put them away. If you get through the whole season without missing them, it should be ok to can them.
8. Now, for a CHALLENGE step, if you're up for it. See how many items you can actually just get rid of. You should set your own goal for your fling. I can say that in our recent closet overhaul, I did away with at least 50 items. It was a great feeling to lighten the load so much. And one of these days I'll be posting some more photos of our redesigned and reorganized closet.
When you finish with the closet(s), how about some decluttering in the kitchen to make room for all of the activities that take place over the holiday season?
Start with your utensils. Do you keep them in a drawer or a countertop utensil container? I recently bought a set of 10 silicone-covered utensils at Costco. I didn't want to just add to the jumble that was in my utensil drawer, so before I even came home, I made myself a rule to give away at least the same amount of my old items. When I got home, I moved the new ones in, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't at all difficult to give away 10 old pieces. Bonus- the new ones even take up a little less space. So...how many duplicate, worn out or unused utensils can you live without?
Now for a couple of my own kitchen decluttering projects to help you along. Who else has a drawer that makes no real sense. I’m not talking about a junk drawer, but this one in my kitchen was the next thing to it. This drawer contained a stack of rarely/never used bread pans, aprons, a couple of graters, some rolling pins, 2 old fashioned mechanical whisks, and untold other miscellaneous things. So now, go to "that" drawer or area and take it all out. Yes, all the way to the bottom. Now make 3 piles: "need it/use it", "get rid of", and "maybe?". Everything should go into one of these piles. Put the "get rid of pile" aside to dispose of or donate. Decide if there is a better place to keep items in the "need it/use it" pile, and start placing them either back in the drawer or in their new home. After you have them all in, decide which of the "maybe?" items will be kept, and either add them into the drawer or with the things you are not keeping. I'd love to see you post a picture of your before and after to the comments below....here's mine.
It’s time to start thinking about holiday baking and cooking, so I’m going to show you how to neaten up your pantry so you can be ready. Let me be honest- my cupboard situation isn't the most modern. In fact, I love, love, love vintage items in my house, and I have an antique free-standing cupboard that is just my favorite. I use it for my food pantry and it holds a TON of things, but they can tend to build up or get lost inside. So, I found this drawer unit on Amazon, and it fits great in my cupboard. I'm going to show you how a very cluttered space in any pantry can become neat and functional in nearly no time, using the same principle as we used in the previous paragraph. But if you missed it, I will recap.
1. Remove everything from the space.
2. Place each item in 1 of 3 piles: "need it/use it"; "toss"; and "maybe". When sorting food items, the age of the item usually has a lot to do with whether or not we decide to keep it. Into the "toss" pile go outdated items, things you no longer like or use, anything stale or (eek!)buggy. And "maybe" is for what you're not sure of yet.
3. You know what to do with the "toss" pile. Decide where is the best place to store the "need it/use it" things. And make a quick decision about your "maybe" pile.
4. Put the items you are keeping back into the drawer or shelf. Because you have tossed a few things, and maybe moved some things to more convenient places, your space will be neater, easier to locate everything in, and maybe even save you money because you won't be buying duplicates.
NOTE: This decluttering project literally took me less than 15 minutes.
Now for some planning ahead. I want to encourage you to narrow your choices by automating everything possible. By using routines, capsule wardrobe, favorite meal list, freezer inventory, online monthly restocking plan, grocery staples list, reading list, cleaning task list/routine....and so much more, you narrow the choices in the universe to YOUR OWN choices, which simplifies everything. If you aren’t sure what some of these would consist of, I can help. Your time will be freed up when you have a system in place for nearly everything you do in your life.
Fewer choices=simplicity=a more productive life= more time for what you love.
Just take some time this week to automate a few of your systems. I promise it will make a world of difference.
In planning ahead we also need to deal with some details. I often tend to avoid thinking of something if I totally feel unprepared for it. And then, you know what happens- the last minute rush when we are forced to think about it and take time we really don't have and spend more money than we wanted to. So now is the time to think ahead to the holiday details that we will need to purchase or gather. Even though this seems stressful at the moment, it will serve to decrease your stress in the long run, I promise! Decide on your table settings and if you need to buy paper products, or napkins, or a centerpiece, a turkey, a ham, etc....write it down on a "need to buy" list. Don't even worry about the actual gifts yet. Yes, what about wrapping paper, tape, Christmas cards, baking ingredients, thank you cards, decorations, batteries?.....the list goes on. I just want to remind you to think about the things we all too often procrastinate on. It's coming and none of us can stop it, so let's just do it, and do it well, and do it with the least possible stress.
Now, remember at the beginning of this post when I told you to look at your house like you’re a guest who’s seeing it for the first time? As we declutter in anticipation of the holidays, here is a great example of how the clutter can creep in unnoticed, but if we are keeping up with it, we can quickly and easily whip a room into shape. As I came into the house from shopping on the day I took these photos, I suddenly saw my kitchen as if for the first time, as someone who didn’t live there, seeing it every day. After putting away the groceries, I took about 15 minutes to put things to rights. What a difference! Take a look at these before and afters. And I’d love it if you posted your own pre and post decluttering examples in the comments or on my facebook page.