Decluttering Tips for a Less Stressful Holiday Season

Do you do this? When I think about what kind of gifts to give my kids, I start by mentally inventorying what they already have.

In my mind, if they already have something, it’s best to buy something different.

Before I buy anything, though, I also think about what items they have that they haven’t played with or used in a while.

That makes me start thinking about the need to sort through their stuff and declutter.


Yes, I said it. Declutter: A mom’s least favorite chore (up there with cleaning the toilets and putting away laundry).

Seriously, though, who knew when we became moms that we’d have to inventory so many kid items?

As you probably know, babies outgrow their clothes faster than you can finish a cup of coffee (which has been microwaved 10 times).

Thankfully, they don’t grow at that rate forever. (OMG, could you imagine?)

Eventually, they only need bigger clothes roughly once a year.

But toys and other stuff…

That can easily get neglected. The task of sorting through it all can become enormously time-consuming due to the sheer volume of stuff they may have accumulated over the years.

Thankfully, I’ve moved almost every 1-2 years for most of my mothering years. So you could say I’ve gotten used to decluttering on the regular. When faced with taking the time to pack it or get rid of it, 9 times out of 10, I opted to just declutter.

Full disclosure: My kids don’t have many toys – mostly because I normally don’t buy them anything unless it’s a birthday or Christmas. (Please don’t pity them. They’re fine.)

Even still, I routinely go through their toys to decide what goes & what stays.

And it’s that time of year again.

So in today’s blog post, I wanted to share some decluttering tips that could help you reduce some stress this holiday season.

Not all of these tips have to do with the purging of toys or your own crap, though. So don’t think I’ve turned all Marie Kondo on you. My house is in desperate need of some decluttering as I write this.

All of these decluttering tips relate to this time of year, so be sure to read through them all. I’m sure you’ll come away with something you didn’t think about.

Tip #1: “Better out than in, I always say”

Since I know that we will be buying the kids a few things for Christmas (as will my family), that means some of the stuff they already have must go to make room.

Think of it as the same rule that you hear about buying a piece of clothing: you’re supposed to also take out a piece to make room.

Take the time to go through their room before Christmas so that when the big day comes, the room already has some free space for the new toys.

Tip #2: Don’t host with a newborn

Technically, this isn’t a decluttering tip. However, if you are going to host, that means cleaning up before your guests arrive. But if you just had a little baby, and you’re expected to host this year, you better not think your home has to be squeaky clean for your guests. Okay.

In fact, I’d strongly recommend you find someone else to host the holidays.

Yes, I said it.

Having guests right now will stress. you. out.

You might not think you are, but you’re already stressed from the lack of sleep. If you’re breastfeeding, your body is under stress from trying to keep up with the demands of creating liquid gold.

And let’s not even talk about the stress of how the baby will react to all the people in the house. Will she nap okay? Will it stress her out and cut her naps short, making for a cranky baby?

For me, a cranky baby means a cranky mommy and I don’t want you to be a cranky mommy.

I take that back. This is a MAJOR decluttering tip because if you aren’t hosting then you don’t have to make room for guests. Talk about serious stress relief. You’re welcome.

Tip #3: Make room for the gifts

If there will be plenty of gift-giving happening on Christmas morning, you’re probably going to have to figure out where all those wrapped gifts are going to be stored until the big day.

Some families don’t like to put presents under the tree until the kids are asleep on the eve of Christmas, so start thinking about where all these gifts are going to be in the meantime. Maybe discuss this with your guests before they arrive. Ask them if they’ll need help hiding anything from the little ones.

Tip #4: Take out the trash

Please, for the love of Santa, make sure that you don’t forget to take your trash & recycles to the curb on your normal trash day the week before the holiday.

After opening gifts (and serving all those extra meals), you’ll have lots more trash and recyclables (gift wrap is recyclable). The last thing you want is an overflow problem. And rotting garbage. Trust me. Again, you’re welcome.

Tip #5: Organize the declutter chaos

After the kids have unwrapped all their goodies, and while they’re still on break from school, schedule a time to sort through their stuff with you. Make swift decisions and sort things into the following categories:

  • Keep it. Depending on how your child receives this idea of decluttering, you may have to intervene so they don’t elect to keep everything. Explain the purpose of decluttering. Ask them questions like, “How long ago did you play with that?” If they’ve played with things within the last few months, I usually let them keep it. However, if it’s been hiding in the closet in a box in the corner, they usually elect on their own to do anything but keep it.
  • Store it. If you have more than one child, storing toys that they have outgrown to save for the next child is a great idea. I’ve done this and some of the toys my youngest plays with were my son, currently 16 yrs old (granted, they’ve been cleaned a few times). You may also elect to store stuff to give to family and friends at a later time instead of donating to your church or local thrift store.
  • Donate it. In my house, stuff that ends up in the donate pile is still usable and could bring joy to another child in another family. My kids understand that when they choose to donate something, they are choosing to give their stuff to a child who’s family may not otherwise afford to buy it. Thankfully, the entire process of decluttering is tear-free because they have little attachment to their toys (or because we’ve been doing this every year for as long as they can remember and they expect that one day the toys will move on).
  • Trash it. I really hate trashing stuff, but if it’s broken or has missing pieces, it’s going in the trash.

Tip #6: Buy storage solutions last

Depending on how your decluttering goes, you may or may not have to buy storage bins or other types of organizing systems to straighten out the kids closets and help their rooms feel less cluttered.

If your child was gifted a large toy (doll house, train table, student desk), you may have to rearrange the layout of their room to accommodate.

No matter what organizing solutions you need to come up with after Christmas, decluttering is always the very first step and mentally preparing for it ahead of time will make the task that much less stressful when it’s “go” time.

Does your family have a regular routine for decluttering around the holidays? Or do you wait until Spring? 

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