Are you ready for the avalanche of gifts that come through the door this time of year? From the gifts you buy (“Where did I put that sweater for Aunt Mavis?”) to all the things you receive from others, how do you make room?

There comes a time where getting rid of old stuff to make way for the new becomes important. If you are dreading finding a home for all the new things you will get, or, you literally open a door to a room or closet and throw stuff in, maybe you need to think about how you handle the holidays.

I have created a check off list to help you create more space in your home. Feel free to copy, add or change this list to fit your needs. The important thing is to get started. My wish for you this holiday season is to feel more prepared and more comfortable in your home.

Start now before you are too busy.

* Enlist help. (Or not. You decide if extra help will help or hinder your progress.)

* Discuss everyone’s Christmas wish list. How much space is needed for the things on their list?

* THE HELP—involve the family as a team. Kids can have their own “To do” list tailored to their tasks. If they are older, they can write the list. Younger kids could draw pictures if reading & writing is a challenge. Kids (and adults) can use fun markers to check off the completed tasks.

* DO IT!! Remember, we usually think things are harder than they are. Once you’re started, keep focused. Setting timers for the kids helps them to stay focused and allows them to know when they will get a break.

Remember when you decided how much space you will need for all the “wished for” items? Grab a bag that will match that size and fill it. Be realistic.

1. Do all closets. A coat closet is a place that usually has extra, unused stuff.

2. Survey the kitchen for broken, unused or unwanted things.

3. Do the other areas that collect clutter—basement, guests rooms, garages.

You are looking for ways to make space and clear clutter. Your thoughts should be something like:

* “What can I get rid of?”

* “Is it worth donating?”

* “Should this be stored in the attic for the next child?”

If you haven’t used it in awhile, you probably won’t. Someone else will. Donating is a great way to feel good about clearing out the extra stuff.

Ideas to Help Kids

Is it broken? Throw away.

You don’t like it/play with it? Donate.

Are their clothes too small? Donate or store for the next child.

(Again—enlist them by having them write the words—donate, throw away, store in attic. Then, they can put the signs up and make the different piles there.)

WARNING—try to avoid talking your kids into keeping stuff they don’t play with. You are trying to make space. Honor their decisions. As a parent, I know this can be hard to do—it’s hard to get rid of good, quality toys. Other times, negotiating can be helpful. If we decide together what to do with a toy—what child would really like it—my children get excited about it. They have delivered toys to younger kids and come back with huge smiles.

In the End
While you are de-cluttering, think about your “wish list”. What did you get rid of that you would really like replaced? Start a list and post it in one place so you don’t loose it. USE THIS LIST when relatives ask what you want for Christmas. You might as well tell them what you want so, hopefully, you will use what you get.

Evaluate what you have done. Did your efforts pay off? How many bags did you fill? Is this more than what you anticipate will come into your home during the holidays?

SIMPLIFY—What??!! You’ve cleaned out your home and have decided you don’t want more stuff? This can be hard thing to tell family. Think outside the box (gift box that is!) for alternative gift ideas:

* See if the grandparents will do less expensive/fewer gifts and give the children saving bonds or money for college fund.

* In lieu of gifts, plan an extended family overnighter at a hotel with a pool.

* Pool money together and shop for a needy family.

Draw names. Shopping for one person instead of eight is a lot more fun and easier on the wallet. Encourage your spouse to do their own shopping. I am always amazed at how thoughtful my husband’s gifts are.

For more gift ideas, see the list on “Disappearing Gift Ideas”.

If time gets away from you, and you find yourself singing Auld Lang Syne and wondering where you’re going to put all this stuff, don’t panic. You can still do the steps. You can also take a good look at the gifts you received and decide if somebody else would rather have a hot dog maker. Surround yourself in what you truly enjoy and get rid of the rest. Isn’t that great advice for life in general? Best wishes for a happy new year.

Kimberly Clark Newsletter
January 2008
Jennifer Strachan

In Its Place Organizing Services