10 Things to Declutter During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time of giving and gathering and joy. At least that’s the idea. For many, though, the influx of “stuff” that comes with holidays is overwhelming. Living in a cluttered space is stressful. 

Make room for some of the stuff that’s coming your way by decluttering these ten items before the holidays.


Now is the time to rethink holiday decorations. Don’t wait until January to donate unwanted items. Donation centers won’t accept them at this point. 

While you unpack holiday decorations, ask yourself if you enjoy seeing them each year. Do you feel delighted when you unpack your ceramic snowflake candles? Those are keepers. Have your holiday dish towels seen better days? It’s time to pass them on. Have too many decorations? See if you know a young family who would like some. 

Kids’ Toys

Heads up on donating kids’ toys. Most holiday toy drives ask for new toy donations, so don’t bring your kids used toys to that type of event. There are other places that do collect gently used toy items for kids. 

Women’s shelters and foster care organizations are always in need of items for children. School teachers appreciate having a stash of games for rainy days. 

Don’t worry that your kids won’t want to give up any of their toys. Most kids are willing to pass along toys to younger kids. (Unless you have a four-year-old. Then, all bets are off!) 

Ask your kids questions to help them think through which toys they’re ready to donate:

  • When was the last time you played with it?
  • Is it special because someone you love gave it to you? (In which case, keep it.)
  • Do you have enough room for it? 
  • Are you willing to clean it up after you use it?

These are good questions for adults trying to declutter, too.


True, we love our Kindles and Nook. There’s still something about holding a real-life book in your hands. If you have too many books, and not enough space, it’s time to thin them out. 

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have so many books you store some of them in boxes? Think about whether you get enjoyment out of them there. 
  • Do you have enough room for all the books you’re keeping? A good rule of thumb is to keep only the number of books that fit on your bookshelf space. Otherwise, you’re spending more time dusting your books than enjoying them.
  • Lay out five books. Compare how much you love one book over another. Challenge yourself to get rid of one of them. Repeat with another five books. 
  • Count your books. Give yourself a number that you have to weed out. Having a specific goal helps you measure your progress.

Lots of places accept book donations. Check with your local schools and libraries. They may appreciate them for their own collections or as part of a fundraiser. 

Here’s one more idea for repurposing your old books. Think of a few people you know that are avid book readers. With those people in mind, select one or two books to gift to them. After your friends read the books, you can talk about them together. 

Old Clothing and Textiles

It wasn’t so long ago that clothes that were stained or ripped or missing buttons were destined for the trash heap. There wasn’t any kind of market for these old clothes.

Now, there is a sizable market for exactly this type of clothing. Textile recycling companies are springing up all over. Technologies have developed that use old textiles to make new clothing fibers, stuffing for furniture, or insulation materials. Businesses collect textiles by providing donation bins in high-traffic areas such as shopping centers or school parking lots. Sometimes, a non-profit like Big Brother, Big Sister will ‘host’ the bin and get a percentage of the proceeds. 

What does this mean for you? It means that weeding out your old clothes just became a whole lot easier. You don’t have to think about whether someone else would want your holey jeans. Textile collection companies sort through it all. They’ll take towels and blankets, too. If they find good stuff, they sell or donate it. All the rest gets recycled. 

Let’s talk about thinning out you closet. Think about your signature look—the things you wear over and over again. Jeans and a tee-shirt or ready-for-a-hike? Business casual or fancy blouses? Build your wardrobe around your look. Think about colors, too. Then you can ditch paisley prints or neutral colors that never see the light of day.


We know you have stale crackers in there somewhere. 

They’re probably hiding in the back, long forgotten. Yet, they’re taking up precious shelf space and making it hard to find room for the stuff you are using.

The pantry is a great place to declutter because you see it so often. You’ll feel really good when you see the results. 

Don’t even do the whole thing. Pick one shelf. Take everything out and put the new items in the back. Bring the older stuff up front. Use it up before it expires. Donate canned goods you no longer want to a local food pantry

Coffee Mugs

While you are in the kitchen, check in on how many coffee mugs are in your cabinet. Do they multiply at night when we’re not looking? If your mugs no longer fit in your cabinet, you have too many. Keep the ones you love and use. Give away the rest. 

Medicine Cabinet

Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications have a short shelf life. Most expire after a year. Take a quick peak and see which ones are ready to toss. 

You have two options for disposing of old medication. 

  • You can throw it away in the trash—as long as it’s wrapped up well and kids and pets don’t have access. 
  • A better, safer way is to bring you old meds to a drop-off location for proper disposal. Ask at your local drugstore or police station. 


Here’s one of the easiest things to clear out of your home. Magazines—you either read them already or you’re never going to read them. December is a good time to get rid of all magazines from the past year. See how fast you can gather them up and toss them into the recycle bin. Done! 


A stack of cookbooks somewhere in the kitchen look homey and cozy. A tilting tower of cookbooks that you have to work around are a mess. Time to weed through and straighten out that stack. You know which ones never get used. Pass them along to a friend or neighbor. We know you can use that extra space for something else!


This is a tricky one. Many electronic items—especially cell phones and computers—are made with heavy metals. Throwing them in the trash is harmful to the environment and is illegal in some communities. 

Unless you already know how and where to recycle them, put this item on hold until the new year. Set aside a box to gather items in one spot. In the new year, call your local DPW or Board of Health and ask where they suggest bringing your items. 

Are you ready to clear out some of your stuff? Smooth Transitions can help you declutter the junk and organize your home. 

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