12 Days of Decluttering - Tackle One of These Areas Each Day for a Clutter-Free Home Come Christmas Day

Experts suggest prioritizing these 12 spaces ahead of the 25th

A neutral kitchen with a large kitchen island with a vase of foliage in the middle
(Image credit: Studio Mcgee)

As Christmas creeps ever closer we're starting to think about preparing our space for the festivities. To make the best impression on your hosts, a tidy, clutter-free home is essential, and what better way to do that than to commence 12 days of decluttering in the lead-up to the big day?

Organizing an entire house can be overwhelming but having an outline of 12 separate areas to tackle at a time makes it far more manageable. If you frequently put off decluttering, this method is a great way to learn how to start organizing ahead of the big day. In as little as 12 days your home will look brand new and ready for the whole family to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holidays. 

We spoke to professional organizers to get their top tips on what areas of the home to tackle during the 12 days. Use this as your guide to achieve a perfectly ordered home before the 25th of December that will continue into the new year.

1. Kitchen and Pantry

A yellow pantry

(Image credit: PLUCK)

The kitchen is at the center of the holiday season, so ensuring it is in a good state ahead of time is a good idea.

'Tackle one cabinet or drawer at a time,' says founder and lead organizer of the professional home organizing company, Neat & Orderly, Sarit Weiss. 'To avoid being overwhelmed.' There are many ways to tackle kitchen decluttering so just find a technique that works for you. 'Sort through utensils, gadgets, or dishes, and discard or donate items you rarely use,' ' Sarit says. This will quickly make your space more manageable.

2. Holiday décor

a living room decorated for christmas

(Image credit: Josh Young Design House)

Christmas decorating is one of the most enjoyable activities to do throughout December, or earlier. However, over the years of trying various themes and trends, you might have amassed rather too many ornaments. Once your decor is up, this is an easy category to declutter as it is just everything that has been left behind.

'If any holiday decor items haven't been used in the last two years, it's probably safe to say you won't use them again,' says professional organizer Lisa Ruff from the NEAT Method. 'Set them aside for donation and make room in your storage bins.' This will also make packing decorations away so much easier once the big day is over.

3. Living room

Much socializing and relaxing occurs in the Christmas living room making it high on the list of priorities for the organization. It's also often the place where present depositories are erected, making it all the more important to eliminate clutter.

'I would suggest sorting through media,' says Sarit. 'Declutter DVDs, CDs, or books, donate or sell ones you no longer need, and evaluate decorative items and only keep those that bring joy or have sentimental value.'

4. The fridge

peach cabinetry with a fridge door open

(Image credit: deVOL)

Christmas is a busy period for your fridge, ensuring it's in the best possible before it gets filled to the brim is a service to your future self. Organizing a fridge needn't be complicated, but it should always start with a deep clean.

'It’s time to look in the dark, scary corners of your pantry and fridge and finally let that expired condiment go,' says Meghan Jackson from organization company Joyful Spaces. When clearing everything out be ruthless. Anything that you don't plan on using or that's passed its best should go. As Meghan notes: 'There is no time for guilt or shame. Only time for holiday cheer! Toss and rejoice!' 

5. Bathroom Cabinets

A bathroom with vertical storage

(Image credit: Caroline Sharpnack. Design: Well x Design)

If you're having people to stay making your guest bathroom feel like a hotel should be on your to-do list. part of this involved decluttering the cupboards of anything unsightly. Personal items should be kept elsewhere, and there should be a small stash of toiletries for your guests to utilize. 

'Sort through toiletries and discard expired items,' says Sarit. 'When putting items back use drawer organizers for a tidy appearance,' she says. You might also wish to keep some cleaning products tucked away for easy access when you have a spare five minutes to give the bathroom a speedy tidy.

6. Play room

Now is the time to prepare for the influx of toys your children are likely to receive. And in the spirit of Christmas, why not take the opportunity to donate some of your kid's old and unused toys to charity? 'Encourage kids to donate toys they no longer play with,' suggests Sarit. This can also include any clothes they've outgrown, too. Having a regular audit of toys will prevent the build-up from being overwhelming and ensure you stay across it. If you're struggling to keep toys organized try the tidy toss trick, it will be a game changer.

7. Books

The start of every year comes with the intention to read more: cue, an influx of new books. Take this time to cut down on books you have already read and books you want to pass on to make way for new ones. 'Donate the books that you will probably not open or even read one page,' says Meghan. 'Now your favorite books can have room to breathe and you can easily access them.' This quick decluttering activity might be the reason you read more in 2024.

8. Home Office

Now is the time to get your life admin in order before the chaos of Christmas and the start of the new year. 'Ask yourself, is your office desk free of rarely visited paperwork that needs processing,' says Kimberly Corey from Finely Sorted Virtual Organizing. A stylish home office is only as good as it looks when it is practical and not cluttered by paper and to-do lists. Take a day to get this space in order, it will make the transition back to work a whole lot easier too.

9. Laundry Room

a laundry room with clean linen in

(Image credit: This is Evolved)

'Sort through bed linens and towels and get laundry supplies together,' says Sarit. 'If you're hosting Christmas laundry can be a huge part of Christmas admin.' Getting ahead of the curve and preparing in advance can make the experience far more manageable and efficient. Organize bed linen ahead of time to keep it smelling fresh and looking neat, and have labeled laundry baskets to keep dirty laundry ordered too.

10. Gift wrapping supplies

'Tidy your gift wrapping supplies and replenish as needed,' says professional organizer Amelie Saint-Jacques from Amelie Organizes LLC. This will encourage you to keep it organized during the elf process and can help you tidy it away quickly once guests arrive. We love this nifty wrapping organizer from Amazon, it will change your life.

11. Entryway

an entryway with a christmas garland

(Image credit: Vanessa Lentine. Design: Pure Salt Interiors)

The entryway is the first thing your guests will notice when coming into your home, and there are plenty of ways you can create a cozy and expensive entryway. 'Start by sorting out shoes and outerwear,' says Sarit. 'Categorize items into trash, donate, sell, and keep, then organize the remaining shoes on a shoe rack or designated shelf.'

It might also be useful to store off-season footwear elsewhere, according to Amelie. Underbed storage can be a valuable storage solution for something like this, helping to keep visible clutter protected and out of sight until it is needed again.

12. The Backyard

I know it's cold, and you probably aren't getting much use out of your outdoor space right now, however, it's still important to keep it looking tidy and neat. 

'Is the outside yard clear of unused and unloved items? Does the calming aspect of nature play a role in the surroundings? Is there space for the things you need and love?' These are all questions you should ask yourself when organizing your outdoor space according to professional organizer Kimberly. Getting the space in order now will mean you can get out there as soon as the temperature rises but, until then, it's time to get the 12 days of decluttering underway and enjoy the festive season!

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.