It feels like there are a million things to organize and declutter before the holidays arrive every year. Each non-Covid-related year, I have pledged to get started in early November, so I can relax and enjoy the holidays. And then I felt stressed and guilty when that didn’t happen. I realized I was trying to do too much, and often those things were elements of the holidays that didn’t mean anything to us anyway. So, this year, I’m focusing on five things to organize and declutter before the holidays arrive instead of the 1,000 possibilities I see on Instagram.
Update Address Lists
Some years I send dozens of holiday cards; others, I’ve sent zero. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between mode for me. This year feels like a holiday card year, so I’m going through my card collections now, making the lists, and updating the addresses of friends who have moved. This will allow me to know where to send things, how many cards I will need, and how much time I should dedicate in my “Doing Bucket” to sending personal messages to friends and family. If I don’t do this now, you can bet that I’ll be sending texts and social media posts instead when the holidays actually arrive.
Declutter Baking Supplies
If you love baking during the holidays, this is the time to organize your supplies. Declutter ingredients that have gone bad to clear your shelves and bins. Even though I bake throughout the year, the winter holidays kick my baking up a notch – it helps that it is finally cool enough in Los Angeles to do it without sweating!
I like to declutter before the holidays because it lets me know exactly what I need to buy for pumpkin pie, apple cobbler, holiday sugar cookies, and so much more. Reducing the chaos on my shelves now means I won’t leave shopping for those critical ingredients, including those that might be in shortage this year, like flour and butter, to the last minute. Planning early will definitely save on holiday stress.
This goes for kitchen tools, as well. Donate or sell tools you haven’t used in the last few years. Similarly, if you know you want to make Christmas cookies this year but don’t have the cookie cutters to get the designs you want, organize a list of needs and see if you can get them from someone else who is decluttering on the local “buy nothing” group.
We have one big box of ornaments on the top shelf of our hall closet, so this is easy for us. Everything has some sentimental meaning, and even if we don’t get a tree (we often get herb bushes like Rosemary that we can plant after the holidays instead), we’ll hang the ornaments around the living areas for a festive touch.
Even though we have a relatively pared downed box of ornaments, there are holiday accessories that we could still declutter before the holidays. For example, we have two tree stands because the one we had didn’t fit a little tree we got one year. Since we’ve gotten away from getting a Christmas tree, at least one of those stands could go to a new home.
Also, if you love holiday lights, check them out now rather than when you are rushing to get them up on a tree, mantel, or porch. This will allow you to replace any bulbs that need to go before it is a mad scramble.
Review Winter Clothes
I recently swapped seasons in my closet. Los Angeles, basically, has two seasons – warm enough for t-shirts and shorts and not warm enough for t-shirts and shorts. Right now, my sweaters and other cool-weather clothing are up in the closet, and the summer gear has been tucked away in the cedar chest for the next few months. Those clothes are easy to get to should we have another heatwave (not unheard of to be in the 80s at Christmas), but not crowding my everyday clothing in my closet.
As you pull out your winter wear, donate or sell clothing, coats, boots, etc., that are in good condition but will no longer make it into your wardrobe rotation. Now is a particularly great time to go through outerwear and donate gloves, warm hats, and coats. Those temperatures are dropping, and if you aren’t going to use your old gear, there are definitely people in need who will.
Check Towels and Linens
I like to go through our towels and bed linens in the fall generally, but doing a declutter before the holidays may save you stress if you are expecting company. If possible, repair torn sheets or towels to keep them from ripping more the next time you use them. If the items are truly worn out, many local animal rescues will accept donations of old, clean towels and linens for their furry friends. If not, your area may also have fabric recycling centers that can take on your discarded items.
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