9 Things to Declutter After the Holidays

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Get your home organized for the New Year.

For many of us, the holiday season is a time of excess: We enjoy lots of food, too many drinks, and an abundance of presents. Even those who consider themselves minimalists for most of the year may find they have amassed more gifts, decorations, packaging, and baking supplies than they know what to do with by the end of the season.

This makes the weeks right after the holidays the ideal time to sort through your belongings, declutter, and donate what you no longer need. If you’re feeling the pinch of holiday overspending, decluttering can also be a smart way to clear out your home while also recovering some cash.

If you’re not sure where to start, begin with the nine common clutter collectors below. You’ll head into the New Year with a home that’s calmer and tidier.

1. Holiday Decorations

Before you box up those garlands, ornaments, and menorahs and store them away, evaluate your stash. If there are decorations you haven’t used or ones that are damaged, it may be time to toss them.

2. Baking Supplies

Are bundt pans, pie plates, and cookie cutters taking over your kitchen cabinets? Sort through your stash and declutter what you don’t need. Either donate what you no longer use, or list it on your local buy nothing group.

3. Your Email Inbox

There’s nothing like the holiday season to make you realize just how many email lists you’re on. If your inbox received a barrage of sales notifications this winter, take a look at which ones you never open or which stores you’re unlikely to shop from again. Take a moment to click “unsubscribe” and your inbox will be lighter all year long.

4. Kids’ Toys

If you can no longer see the floor in your child’s room or playroom because it’s covered in toys, it’s time to declutter. If they’re old enough, let your kids be part of the decision-making process. Create a rule—like for each toy they keep, they also donate one—and help them sort through the collection.

If the toys are in good condition, telling your child that they will go to another kid who could really use them may make letting go easier. Before donating, be sure to wash the toys and check any guidelines at the organization you’re donating to.

5. Holiday Dresses and Outfits

Many of us have holiday dresses or outfits we haven’t worn in a while. Determine what you’re likely to wear next year—if it’s a “no,” donate it.

If your garments are in great condition, you can also consider selling them on Poshmark, ThredUp, or Facebook Marketplace, or bring them to your local Buffalo Exchange. The same goes for fancy holiday shoes you’re unlikely to wear in day-to-day life.

6. Winter Coats and Accessories

By the beginning of January, with the winter in full swing in most areas, you probably have a good sense of what winter gear you’re going to use and which coats, hats, and mittens your household hasn’t touched. Now is a good time to go through everything and donate any coats and gloves that are still in good condition.

7. Holiday Cards, Mail, and Packaging

Hold onto only the most important cards you’d like to keep for sentimental reasons, then recycle the rest. If you’ve been holding onto cardboard boxes for returns, determine if it’s time to recycle them.

8. Gifts You Won’t Use

Receiving a gift you know you’ll likely never use prompts many of us to hold onto the item out of guilt. Sometimes, it will be years before we finally let go of it (both the gift and the guilt). While it may be necessary to hold onto some items, others can be donated or regifted right away. If you regift an item, do so in a thoughtful way that won’t hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s truly the thought that counts: You can be grateful for the gift without holding onto it.

9. Leftover Food

If the holidays left your fridge a little more stuffed than usual, it’s time for a clean-out. Start by removing everything and wiping down the shelves. Toss out any leftovers that are past their prime (the USDA recommends after three to five days), before replacing everything.

In the pantry, consider donating any shelf-stable foods you didn’t use during the holiday season, such as canned cranberry sauce or extra canned vegetables.

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