Decluttering After The Holidays

January 09, 2020

Decluttering After The Holidays

At the end of a year, I always deep clean my apartment. In Japan, it's called Osouji meaning 'free and clear' and refers to the year-end cleaning of a home. On New Year's Eve, I clean the rooms from top to bottom, opening all the doors and windows to let fresh air in; and in first week of the New Year, I declutter what's left. The intention is to move into the new year with a clean home filled with things that are either useful or beautiful, leaving behind anything that is no longer of use to us. A little superstitious perhaps but it's served me well over the years.

The holidays can be overwhelming. The rush of excitement with lots of people coming and going and often a flurry of gifts being pressed in your hands. After the whirlwind has ended, it's good to get everything back in its place and deal with anything we do not want or need to avoid it cluttering up our home. This is how you can declutter for the new year and give yourself and your home a fresh start.



Give New Things A Place

Anything new you may have brought into your home over the holidays needs a new place. Giving everything you own a place to live and putting it back there after using it will keep your space tidy with minimal effort. Any new items you may have been gifted, whether they're clothes or books, artwork or beauty products, find a permanent place for them to belong. While putting things away you may notice things you no longer want or need, perhaps a few bottles of half used products. Make a mental note to use these things up before switching them out for anything new.



Put Away Festive Decorations

It's time to pack away the festive decorations and return your home to its usual state. Pack away your decorations including lights, baubles, and ornaments to store them away safely for next year. Any unwanted or unused decor items can be donated (perhaps even given to or swapped with family members or friends?) or disposed of, like the real tree you may have opted for. Consider a more eco-friendly tree for next year. If you made any natural decorations, like a foraged wreath or wall hanging, send them to the compost bin. Finally, recycle or donate anything that's been damaged beyond repair.



Deal With Unwanted Gifts

You may find yourself with a few gifts you're unsure of what to do with. Knowing what to do with unwanted gifts can be tricky, a few options include returning, exchanging, or even regifting to people you know will want them. Second-hand gifts, especially the unused kind, are perfectly fine. Alternatively, donate to charity. Many charities have a wish list of items they need; things like socks, toiletry sets, blankets, notepads, and art supplies make excellent donations. As a last resort, recycle or dispose of what you don't want as responsibly as you can.



Store Gift Wrapping Supplies

Keeping a supply of gift wrap is super useful for keeping your gift exchanges low waste. Smooth out used wrapping paper, cut tags off gift bags, recycle cards by turning them into gift tags, and saving ribbons from twine are excellent ways to repurpose gift wrap. Store everything away either with your holiday decorations or craft supplies until you need to send a zero waste parcel or gift.



Clean Out The Refrigerator and Pantry

Food is often in plentiful supply over the festive holidays. Our kitchen shelves burst with treats we don't usually have and, if we're not careful, can end up going to waste if we don't act quickly. Any leftovers should be eaten up or frozen for later. Any unwanted snacks can be given away while expired foods should be disposed of immediately. I've found a good use for unwanted alcohol that keeps the festive spirit alive for a little longer is to mull it and any scraps can be turned into fire cider. After the holidays and before the new year is a good opportunity to get your pantry organised.



Care For Seasonal Items

While there's still a great stretch of winter ahead of us, the new year is a great time to care for seasonal items items. Take the time to declutter your wardrobe of unworn and unwanted seasonal clothing and your linen cupboard for spare blankets and throws. Coats, unworn socks, and thick blankets make excellent donations for shelters and in January, while it's still cold, there will still be a great need for these items particularly for the homeless. Take the time to wash, dry, and store away any unneeded blankets, throws, and bed linens.



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