There's a strange week after Christmas where you're on the comedown from celebrating and still feeling the effects of a belly full of turkey. Before we head into the New Year and back to work, we generally have some rare time to start decluttering to start the new year fresh.
In preparation for 2023, we spoke to some of our favorite organizing experts for their top tips for decluttering post-holiday season.
Make space for new gifts
When should you start decluttering after Christmas? 'Do it on the day you put away your decorations and gifts,' says organizer Lucy Milligan Wahl, founder of LMW Edits. 'This will allow you to combine effort instead of putting everything away... and then getting in back out in order to declutter!
A lot of professional organizers suggest doing a declutter before Christmas. 'I encourage families to declutter with their kids BEFORE the presents are opened,' says professional organizer Melissa Gugni of MGorganizing. However, by the time you're reading this, that boat has sailed.
'It might be a struggle to do the purge pre-Christmas,' says Lauren Allen, founder of sustainable homeware organisational store Not a Boring Box, 'but once you have new things it can be easier to make those tough decisions on what to donate and what to sell.'
To get started in finding room for the gifts you received over Christmas, Melissa's best decluttering tip is to take inventory of what you already have. 'Ask, do those clothes fit? Do you still like that toy? Does that game have all of its pieces? Perhaps it’ time to prune worn gloves, slippers, robes and mugs to get ready for new ones,' Melissa says.
Lauren advises rotating and decluttering clothes based on seasons, sell items you no longer use on eBay or Vinted, make full use of storage but don’t keep clothes that don’t fit or you don’t wear – ruthless but certainly necessary.
Edit your Christmas decorations
The jury is still out on when we should take down and pack away our decorations, however Melissa and Lauren have some tips on how we can store them neatly and again, declutter by getting rid of things we don’t need or like. Melissa believes that 'everything should be cleaned up and stored away by January 2nd' giving everyone time to enjoy the decorations but ensuring everything is finished up for when the kids go back to school.
There is another opportunity here to donate, sell or throw away decorations that are either broken or no longer to our taste, as Melissa advises, 'If there’s something that you don’t like or that has a bad memory attached to it, it needs to go.'
Lauren agrees. 'When putting everything away for the season, take the opportunity to think about what you are continuing to give space to,' she says. 'As Marie Kondo might say, does that oversized Santa with the missing eyes “spark joy”? Was that ornament a gift that you never liked? Holiday decorations should make you and your family happy. If there’s something that you don’t like or that has a bad memory attached to it, it needs to go.'
'My rule of thumb for Christmas decorations is very simple: if you didn't put it up, you don't need to keep it,' adds Lucy of LMW edits.
While it can sometimes be painful to say goodbye to some items, it will increase your storage options and generally make your home neater, more comfortable and more aesthetically pleasing. Plus it makes a great New Year's resolution if you haven't thought of one already!
'If a relative would be upset if you got rid of a family treasure, give it back to them to enjoy,' Lauren suggests. 'Create a peaceful holiday environment by having fewer things that you really love to organize and put away at the end of the season.'
Then pack them away
If you are tight for space and are considering your Christmas decoration storage, Melissa recommends putting them in closet that's more out of the way. 'I had a client who kept her holiday decorations in her main hall closet, so she would see them everyday,' Melissa says. 'Because she had the space, I recommended moving them to another less accessed closet. Not only did this give more prime real estate to the things she used daily, but it also made it more special to see those holiday decorations when the time came around every year.'
When packing them away, it's the perfect opportunity to organize the decorations a little better. ''Categorize them by item/color code and store items together in storage boxes,' says Lauren. 'I recommend stacking storage boxes to make use of the vertical space, and labeling each box so you know what is in what box the following year.' You could even use clever QR code printers that some professional organizers use to keep track of what's in each box.
Melissa also recommends that clients with artificial trees is to recycle its box and get a rolling tree storage bag – easy for transportation and storage and keeps the tree dust, bug and water damage free!
Clear Christmas out of the kitchen
Once Christmas is over and all your guests have left, it’s also a good time to tackle your kitchen, clearing out your cupboards and organizing the fridge to clear out-of-date food or holiday leftovers that won’t keep.
'If you have been cooking a lot and storing lots of leftovers over the holidays – give the fridge and freezer a good clear out, get rid of anything that is out of date and give it a good clean/wipe down,' advises Lauren from Not a Boring Box. 'Whilst you want your fridge to be organised in a functional way, it is also great to organize so that it is aesthetically pleasing. Plus, when it is organized, you can keep an eye on things that are going to go out of date, and you put them in the freezer using reusable zip lock bags.'
If you have trouble keeping your fridge organized, long narrow plastic bins are a great addition. 'You can use them like drawers, pulling them out to be able to see everything,' says Lucy. 'This prevents food from getting lost in the back of the fridge.'
Similarly in your cupboards, this may be a job that can only be done in this limbo week so while it is overwhelming, it is easy to create an organized food storage area if you break it down. Lauren recommends jars and baskets that will fit your space (‘use what you have first and then buy’) to store food, with everything being separated out into categories. These groups will again, help you see clearly what food you have and what you may need to buy, while also looking extremely aesthetically pleasing. Organized kitchen cabinets is definitely the key to easy and delicious cooking, so take this opportunity to have a total re-think around your food storage solutions.
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Alex is a MA Magazine Journalism student at City University of London, with experience writing for several online magazines for students and young women in film, lifestyle and politics. Proud and particular about her bedroom decor, Alex has always found interest in interior design, insisting on full control over Christmas tree decorating each year. Her favourite aesthetic is definitely small cozy spaces, cluttered with cushions and throws of different colors and textures, surrounded by warm fairy lights and candles. Her only strict rule is, 'Never have the big light on.'
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