Get the inspiration you need for decluttering and organizing before Christmas. You just might change your life, as well as the lives of many others!
I feel like this post seems like a black sheep among all of the other things I post about. It’s not a recipe, it’s not a DIY project, it’s not a family activity, and it’s not a hospitality tip. And, it’s not pretty at all.
But, the topics of getting more organized, feeling less overwhelmed, and being more intentional with the Christmas season are huge goals for so many of us and set the foundation for these other important aspects of life: home, family, and community. It’s so hard to enjoy other things – spending time with family, creating beautiful crafts or yummy recipes, or having people over – when we’re burdened: burdened by stuff, burdened by feeling like we’re not being generous, and burdened with feeling like we’re not being very intentional with this special time of year.
I’ve been thinking for a while about doing a decluttering challenge throughout my own house for the holidays, but the idea of doing one more chore on my already-too-long to-do list just sounded really intimidating.
But then, something happened, and I all of a sudden KNEW this was the right thing to do, and I’ll tell you why below. Because doing a quick (we’re talking just a few hours’ worth) pre-Christmas decluttering challenge was so helpful for me, and because the idea of intentionally decluttering and organizing directly relates to making our homes feel more welcoming and comfortable, as well as helping OTHERS bring warmth and comfort into their own homes, I decided I really should share some tips in hopes they’re helpful for you, too.
A Little Background on My Quick, Whole-House Decluttering Challenge
I had already been thinking about going through cabinets, drawers, and closets to do some organizing several weeks before Christmas. I was thinking it would help me do two things:
1) Figure out some things we actually need and could use, that way we can make a few GOOD recommendations for things to get each other/for others who ask about our Christmas list. This would help us be more intentional about our own gifts, as well as prevent others/each other from spending unnecessary money on unnecessary items.
2) Clear out items we no longer need to make space for new things we’ll inevitably get (namely, new things our kids will be getting).
But, as time has that funny way of doing, the days were slipping by and I just never could find the time. Until…
About a week ago, my husband, who is a high school teacher at a local public school, said that the counselors at his school were going to be hosting a “gently used & new items” sale for the students to go shopping for Christmas gifts. Basically, a school-wide garage sale so that students who 1) Don’t have a lot of money to spend and who 2) Rely on others for transportation and can’t get to a store have a way to do some Christmas shopping for their family & friends. The counselors were asking teachers to make donations of things from their own homes that would make good gift items.
THIS IS BRILLIANT.
Aaron forwarded me the email from the counselors and asked me if we had anything to donate. I literally immediately jumped up and got to work. Not kidding.
THAT was what I needed. That was the motivation I needed to do start going through closets, drawers, and cabinets to start sifting through things I just. don’t. need. It’s hard to be motivated to clear things out when we think about just doing a big, perhaps unintentional, drop-off at Goodwill. But knowing I had things in my house that would provide more value to someone else, I jumped at the opportunity.
I probably texted Aaron 5x that day to tell him how surprised I was at how much I was finding that I could donate. I was VERY excited. I’m actually a pretty good and regular purger of things, but it really wasn’t until I found out these items would be so purposeful for someone else that I realized how much I had been holding onto that we really don’t need, that we don’t use, and that just would be so much more valuable to someone else.
So, I filled up at least 3 boxes’ worth of home decor, jewelry, kids’ toys and books, vases, our movies and books, tablecloths, very gently-used & pretty dish towels, and other household items – all with the idea in mind that they’d be useful for someone to give as a gift to someone else. I really couldn’t believe how much I got rid of.
Decluttering felt SO GOOD.
For two reasons: I now know kids are going to have some REALLY great items to choose from to give to their parents, siblings, kid siblings/cousins, etc. And, I finally got rid of things that are taking up space in our own house, and it frees us up to enjoy our space MORE.
And, along the way, I figured out some things I need for myself (i.e. a glass measuring cup & a replacement paddle attachment for my KitchenAid mixer). So, even though we don’t go crazy buying each other Christmas gifts, we still enjoy that aspect of Christmas morning, but we can be far more intentional about it – by getting things we could actually use.
I also packaged up a zillion stuffed animals – ones that my kids had that really just had no sentimental value and that they really didn’t play with very often – and brought them to Options for Life, a local Christian-based pregnancy/parent care center in our town. I was THRILLED they took gently-used stuffed animals – I wasn’t sure if those were a desired gift item. I washed ’em all before I brought them, and then dropped off 2-3 trash bags full of clean, fluffy, sweet animals who will be a far bigger blessing to other kids than they will be to my own.
Friend, it just feels so good. It feels so good to give our home more margin, and it feels so good to pass on things to others who will find far more value out of those items than we do. It feels so good to pass on some items that help others gift a sweet Christmas gift that they may not have otherwise been able to provide. We did not donate junk and leftovers. We got rid of things we knew would bring others joy. As I went through things, especially if I struggled with whether or not to keep something, I asked myself, “Would this provide more value to someone else than it does to any of us?” And if the answer was yes, into the box it went.
Sometimes we just need to be told that something of ours would give someone else an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Because this just felt so good and freeing for me to do, as we work to make our homes a warm and inviting place for the holidays, I decided I’d share the inspiration in case you’ve had a nagging to do the same. Just like I needed that extra push and was SO thrilled I got it in the form of that email from Aaron, I’m giving you that extra push if you’re desiring it, too!
Well, that was way more background than I anticipated writing, but I should come to expect that from my long-winded self! I’ve kind of already covered them, but I’m still going to give you the 3 HUGE reasons you should declutter and organize before Christmas, especially if you’re a list-lover like I am.
1. It’s the perfect time for donating intentionally
If you wait until after Christmas to do a big de-cluttering and organizing challenge throughout your home, you won’t have the huge opportunity you have before Christmas to bless the socks off of some local organizations who could potentially use items you have. I’m sure the needs don’t vanish come January, but I think the needs are likely far higher in December.
As you’re going through things, if you’re struggling with whether or not to get rid of something, here are a few things I ask myself to process whether or not I’m going to give an item away:
1) Will I use this in the future? (If the answer is, “Hmmm, I’m not sure…” or “Well, I haven’t used it in 5 years…,” then I typically put it in the box.)
2) Will I be super disappointed if I don’t pass this onto my kids? (If the answer is, “I really don’t even think my kids will care…” or “This really doesn’t contain a lot of sentimental value, buuuut…,” then it finds its way into the donate pile.)
3) Will this provide more value to someone else than it does to me? (This is probably the question that helped me the MOST as I sorted through things.)
You might be surprised at how FREEING it is and how GOOD YOU’LL FEEL to pass items onto others who can use them more. Seriously. It just felt so special.
And I’m telling you, I gave away some things that others might think I’m crazy for giving away – A LOT of jewelry, some beautiful table cloths, some great books, etc. But, again, “Will this provide more value to someone else than it does to me?” So often that answer was “YES.”
If you need ideas for places where you can make INTENTIONAL donations here are some ideas of places you can call and ask:
- Local foster care centers
- Local adoption agencies
- Local children’s advocacy organizations
- Local women’s shelters
- Local pregnancy care centers
- Local schools
2. You’ll get more margin to enjoy your home with others
Some of us are super burdened by clutter and extra stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT a minimalist, BUT, I’ve taken a lot of notes from people who I know have the hardest time getting rid of things, and I’ve just had a resolve that I don’t want that stress. But, I still end up with more than I need, and I just KNOW that interferes with my mind and weighs me down.
My home is very decorated and full of things, but almost everything has its place, and overall, I’m fairly organized. You wouldn’t know that by seeing the crazy condition of our house sometimes (please don’t pop in for a surprise visit today ?), but as a whole, I don’t feel overwhelmed in our home. But, I know that clutter and just lack of space are HUGE inhibitors to others opening their doors to others.
What a silly thing, right? We let stuff interfere with building community. Yikes! (Because I know my own tendency for this, I have to crack down on it myself.)
3. You can make a much more intentional Christmas list
As I mentioned, in going through so much stuff at our house, I found there were things I had that were broken or missing (not a ton of things, but I had forgotten about needing a new paddle attachment for my KitchenAid that I use ALL THE TIME – mine chipped a while back and had to be thrown away).
So, I was able to write some things down that I could really use. I now have a much better Christmas list than I normally do! I also discovered some things my kids could use, too. It was really helpful.
I hope this was SO helpful for you! Please don’t let me guilt you into giving things away, but just know that if you are experiencing that same tug that I was feeling, here’s an extra boost of motivation to do a quick declutter project before Christmas! If you’re looking for other tips for making your home feel warm and welcoming for the holidays, be sure to check out my 12 Days of Home for the Holidays series!