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3 Reasons to Declutter Before the Holidays

Guest Post by Kimberlee from The Peaceful Mom

The holiday season is just around the corner. Here are three reasons why you should declutter now in order to have a happier Thanksgiving and Christmas:

1. Clutter Keeps You From Being Productive

Keeping disorganized piles of stuff lying around your home is a mental and emotional drain. Seeing those piles reminds you of things you need to do, but drains your energy and motivation to do them. Clutter makes it difficult to focus and makes it difficult to find the items you need to complete tasks.

Perhaps you want to make some DIY gifts this Christmas season. When your house is cluttered you may start a project only to find that you are missing an item. While looking for the item, you may get distracted by the piles of other stuff. Rather than finish your original project, you spend the rest of the afternoon dealing with those piles. So much for the handmade gifts!

2. Clutter Costs Money

Clutter not only prevents you from being productive, it also costs you money. When you are constantly distracted and wearied by the disorganized chaos in your home, you don’t have the energy to cook, plan or do other time and money saving activities. You may also spend extra money on gas and purchases because you “lose” items in your home or you forget that you have them.

When the clutter really begins to pile up, you may choose to spend time away from home to avoid it. Being “busy” away from home costs money: eating out because you’re too busy to cook, buying unnecessary items because you’re in the stores too often, and gas money driving to all the places you go to avoid being at home.

3. Clutter Keeps You Stuck Emotionally

Many times we hold on to stuff rather than dealing with our true feelings of fear or loss. We fear that we won’t have enough in the future or we fear that we will need the item we are holding onto, but we won’t be able to replace it.

The truth is that most items can easily be replaced for very little money. Is it worth the emotional drain of keeping the item rather than risking the money you may have to pay later if you actually need it? The freedom gained by dealing directly with fear and grief is far superior to the bondage of trying to keep those feelings buried.

If you assess your situation and realize that you need to get rid of some things, don’t be overwhelmed. Instead:

::Grab a box for give-away items, a trashcan for throw-away items and set a timer for ten minutes. Clean one area until the timer goes off.

::If you declutter one area a day for only ten minutes, you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in the next few weeks. The clean spaces in your home will fuel your motivation to continue and before you know it, you’ll have a clean house ready for the holidays!

Kimberlee is the creative (and sometimes cluttered) mind behind where you can find more great organizing, money-saving and stress-free holiday ideas!

photo credit

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  • Carrie says:

    So true! I’m happy that I made a small amount of decluttering progress this weekend. I went through the kids’ toy bins and weeded out the baby toys that the 2-year-old won’t need anymore, and reunited approximately 1 million small parts of toys with their sets.
    Unfortunately the kids discovered the weeded out toys before I managed to get them out of the house, proclaimed their deep love for all of them, and liberated a few back into the playroom. But I managed to get the big things out of the house so I’m counting it as a win!

    • Jessica says:

      You are hilarious. My little clutterers (which includes my not very little 6′ tall husband) also proclaim their love for stuff that has been packed in boxes and not seen the light of day for years 🙁

    • Patti says:

      When we moved many years ago, all my carefully packed away items from babyhood (which were stored in the attic) were unpacked in our new home much to the delight of my five year old. Gosh … thought I would never get that stuff out again!! Thanks for the smile of remembrance!

  • Lesley says:

    I read her article several weeks ago. Very inspiring. I hate clutter so most of the house is well taken care of…except the kitchen table (which we don’t use for anything other that a catch all). I have to force myself to clean it off every week. Bleck!

  • Carrie says:

    I completely agree with this post. I spent the weekend going through my little boys’ room and filled a bag for garbage and a box to take to work (I work at a children’s agency). I’m also thinking about the clutter as I’m picking out presents for my boys this year. I don’t want toys with a ton of pieces and I don’t want to get caught up in the good deals and buy things we don’t need.

  • So true! A clean house is a happy house 🙂

  • We’re working on this right now! Clearing the clutter…we’re aiming for 100 things in 100 days…which can be done!

    The part I am struggling with is should we just donate the items quickly? or hold on to them for a garage sale later? I like the idea of ridding our house from these items completely but I also wouldn’t mind making (or recouping) some of the cost of the items for a garage sale in the spring.


    • Carrie says:

      Is there someplace you can store the items out of the way? I have a spot in a garage that is specifically for garage sales. I have one each year and my friend does as well. Last year, I made over $500, which was a huge help for school clothes.

      • alicia says:

        I do this all the time. I see an item and think I can make a buck or 2 on it so I put to the side. Then I have my sale and still have half the stuff left over. Then I end up just putting it out front with a free sign on it. All the stuff is usually gone by nightfall and I am happy to be rid of it finally.

    • Heather says:

      I have seen people hang onto stuff for a long time to have enough for a sale, or to find the time to do it, and then it doesn’t sell well because it’s out-of-date. Styles in clothing change quickly.
      Extreme example: My mother-in-law had these nice 70’s and 80’s smocked cotton girl’s dresses that she tried to sell around 2005 at our big high-traffic yard sale. She was sad that no one was even interested.

    • I do like having garage sales, but we’re at a point where space is kind of tight right now (added kids, in the middle of finishing our basement = no storage space for awhile!). We have decided to keep careful track of everything that we are getting rid of, then donate it this year and claim the donation at tax time. Maybe a garage sale would get a little more money, but my husband (the finance guy at our house) is pretty happy with the money from taxes, and I’m thrilled to have it out of our house!

      I will say that the idea would probably work differently for different people. My husband actually took a few minutes to do the math for our specific tax situation, so I don’t know if that would work well for everyone. Good luck!

    • Kamila says:

      Meg, I found out that I feel MUCH better if I donate things within couple days. I makes me feel free, happy. We have a excellent Mennonite thrift store in town that sells used stuff to provide finances to help incarcerated mothers and their children. I happily give all my stuff to them b/c I know it’s for God’s kingdom and for a great cause. I drive the donations there weekly. If it’s outta the house, less things for my toddler to mess with.

  • Andrea says:

    @Meg- come spring, will you really have the sale? People frequently hold onto things for a yard sale that never happens. maybe it is better to get rid of the things now by donating them somewhere worthwhile and having a clean house right now.

    • Brittney says:

      I did finally have the yard sale I was planning, but I’m still holding onto a bunch of the leftovers that I was going to take to a consignment store. My goal this week is to take it all to the charity resale shop in town and get it out of my house! I would say that if you aren’t planning to have the sale in the next 2 to 3 weeks, ride your momentum and let the stuff go. I might try to sell big items on Craigslist or something similar, but things that are only going to nickel and dime at a sale, you might just donate. Good luck, Meg!

      • Lisa says:

        I have often held onto items that didn’t sell at my yard sale until the next one. This has gone on for years. Most people think that donating means Goodwill or the Salvation Army, which are both great, but there are lots of other charities, too. My passion is animal welfare, and I have recently learned that these groups either have their own thrift stores or fundraiser yard sales. Now my stuff goes to these groups and even though I don’t have a lot of money to donate, I know that am still helping the cause.

  • Brittney says:

    This is so true. I’ve been working very hard on decluttering in the last 2 weeks, and I now have a clean kitchen, a dining table we eat on every night, and a formerly covered “hotspot” that is now gleaming. I feel lighter already. I’m trying to take it slow and not be overwhelmed by the fact that I still have a l0ng way to go, and so far I’m doing pretty well. Thanks for the reinforcement!

  • I agree whole-heartedly! My family is often amused by my love of organization and constant de-cluttering. I always tell them that I am organized because I am so absent-minded. If things aren’t where I left them, or if I don’t write down an appointment, I will forget entirely. Organization gives me room to create, room to cook, saves me money, and gives me peace of mind. Thanks for the great post!

  • MK Jorgenson says:

    We just visited my parents and received a pile of presents for our daughter from a family event we missed. It was a big wake-up call: we need to go through the toys before Christmas comes around!

  • Shelly says:

    I needed this today. Thank you! I work outside the home so I constantly feel as though I am behind on everything home related. My sons & I are making homemade gifts for his daycare teachers this year & I certainly need to clear away the mess before we begin our project.
    Great post 🙂

  • I really need help with the kids toys. That is my main problem area besides closets, which I can go through. But the toys…I don’t know what to do with them anymore. And I mean the ones we want to keep. It’s like no storage unit is big enough.

    • Jean says:

      A friend taught me this method: She put all of her kids toys in some bins and rotated through them. Basically, her children didn’t have access to all of their toys all of the time: some were always put away in bins. After a few weeks she would rotate the stock. Put the toys they’d been playing with away for a while and get out the other bins. She said her kids loved rediscovering the toys that had been packed away. I’m sure there were some favorite things that were always out, but most kids have plenty of extra toys. And you can always get out a bin if they request it.

      I don’t know if that helps in your specific situation, but thought I’d share. Take heart, that same friend assured me that the number of toys decreases drastically once the kids get older. She was right!

  • Monica says:

    Thank you for this posted! I am dealing with this issue right now. This post is so true! Its exactly how clutter makes me feel. I’ve been encouraged today! Praying for the motivation to get it all done:)

  • Stefanie says:

    Clutter does have this effect on me. I hate it. However, I wanted to point out that I’ve known people who functioned quite well in clutter…and actually preferred it. It all depends on the individual personality. These three reasons don’t apply to everyone…though they definitely apply to me. 🙂

    • Andrea says:

      So true, Stefanie. Many of my family members love knick knacks. I see them as clutter and cringe at the thought of dusting them all. Their homes are full of decorative stuff, but they work full time and have active social lives, etc.

  • Heidi says:

    I needed this motivation! Thank you!

  • Marie says:

    I hate clutter! But we moved a year ago and are slowly putting each room together one at a time. The house needed a ton of work when we bought it. All of our bookcases and shelving units are still in the garage, waiting for painted rooms to put them in. It has been challenging, but I do find that if I can stay on track, keep things filed and put away, and tackle piles before they multiply, we are all in better shape. It might even be a good thing that we don’t have places to put things. It just makes more room for things we probably don’t need!

  • Jenny says:

    I also like the rule that all of your “stuff” has to fit in the space you have. If you have a large home with many closets, etc., then you can probably keep more things you “may” use later. But, as in my case, I don’t have a huge home, so I need to be realistic about the amount I keep stored away. If it doesn’t have a home ( a box, a closet, a room ro go in), then it needs to go!

  • Valerie Henry says:

    Another good reason to clean out clutter before the holidays……to make a little Christmas money! I’ve been cleaning out the attic little by little and listing the stuff on eBay. I’ve already made over $200. That will go a long way toward paying for gifts for my family!

  • Laurie says:

    I have been motivated to declutter so I can save my friends money. I had some nice, unopened toiletries and samples that went home with a friend this weekend. I have plenty of others I prefer,mand these will make great stocking stuffers or gifts. I also have new and like-new Christmas ornaments that I’ve decided aren’t my style, so I’ve got those in a giveaway bag for oter friends to shop through. I am going to try to go through my stash of Christmas cards soon too. Win-win!

  • grace says:

    awesome post! thanks! with too small an apartment and 3 kids 5 and under we are always cluttered and im always overwhelmed….i love the 10 min timer idea. otherwise i get frustrated and avoid altogether!!!

  • Laura says:

    I have a catch all Bedroom and it’s a waste of square footage! I’ve been decluttering for 3 years now and not making much headway because I hate to waste and I want to recoup some of my spent money but at the same time I want it gone. Running in circles……..

  • Liz says:

    Thanks for this post! After watching an episode of Hoarders I kind of felt like we were heading in that direction….we share a home with my mom and she is definitely in danger of being a full-blown hoarder. “I may need this in the future” or “It was too good a deal to pass up”. It’s gotten to the point where we can’t even have people over because she doesn’t want anyone to see the mess, yet she won’t get rid of anything. It’s frustrating! I’ve been working hard for the past few months on decluttering MY part of the clutter and I’ve made a decent amount of money on ebay so I’m hoping she gets inspired to declutter as well =)

  • Anna says:

    I found a not-fancy-at-all consignment store nearby (around DFW) and it has made de-cluttering possible for me. I am an organization lover with hoarding *tendencies*. My husband found my big Rubbermaid of empty boxes & jars: “What are these for; collecting farts?!” He dumped them all into the recycling. I pulled a few out when he wasn’t looking but I don’t miss the rest. I still have a long way to go, but I actually feel freed by giving away more of my stuff. If an item isn’t good enough for the consignment store, we have charity organizations in town that pick up donations from our front door a few times a month.

  • Anna says:

    PS: I loved this post. Thank you for more motivation!

  • Tammy Sue says:

    Loved the post! I’ve been decluttering and cleaning on my house for the last couple of weeks and was feeling really good about it and I was so proud of myself. Then I had 2 seperate visitors–my mom and my mil. I asked my mom if she could tell that I’d been working and she said “Yes, but I think you need to dust this shelf”. Then my mil came to visit and the first thing she saw was my kitchen table which had a few papers scattered on it and she said ” Did Wes leave all his school papers all over your table?” My ego was deflated quickly.

    • Liz says:

      You’re doing great! I’ve learned that others tend to downplay our progress, especially those closer to us. My mom did exactly the same thing. I’ve cleared out over half a room of clutter and she said “Oh you did? It still looks messy, hopefully you finish soon”. Ummm thanks for the support! =/ But yeah, you just need to stay focused and don’t worry about what others say, because your hard work will definitely pay off in the near future! =)

  • wendy says:

    This post made me chuckle!

    I just cleaned the catch all spot on top of the microwave. Found $10 UP’s and some expensive vitamins I was looking for!

  • Susan says:

    In response to Meg’s inquiry about keeping stuff for a garage sales vs. just getting rid of it …

    I donate some items, keep the receipts, and take the tax credit. My state has a nice tax CREDIT (not a deduction) for donations to certain state-run charitable donations. I value items at what I reasonably think I could get for it at a garage sale or buy it for at a thrift shop.

    Beyond that, there are a number of resale stores in my area who will give you cash or store credit (store credit is usually a little more) for gently used items. Anything that I think the resale shops might accept go into a box, and when it fills up I take it in. The shops rarely take everything I try to sell, so anything not accepted goes back into my car, and I head straight to another organization that will accept them as donations (and offers the tax benefit).

    This way, I get a little money back and I get things out of my house without the hassle of a garage sale.

    I’ve tried listing items on ebay but haven’t had much luck selling that way, which is disappointing given that you have to pay a fee to list.

  • Tshanina says:

    The timer idea is awesome. My husband has a hard time going through clutter and I bet this would make it a lot easier for him. Thanks!

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