Now is the best time of year to declutter Christmas decorations. Most people try to do it after the holidays while putting the holiday decor away. But at that point, it just seems easier to throw everything in a bin and deal with it next year. Besides, donating Christmas decorations after Christmas seems pointless.
It’s better to declutter Christmas decorations when you’re getting them out. It’s better to donate decorations before the holiday, so someone else can enjoy them this year.
You can do this before you decorate this year or if you’ve already trimmed the tree, you can still take care of all the other holiday decorations you have stashed away. Anything you haven’t put out is prime for purging.
So put on some Christmas music and get to work.
I’m on a mission to declutter my entire home before the end of 2017. Ambitious, I know. But also necessary. I’m sick of all the stuff.
In our storage room, we had SEVEN boxes of Christmas decor, and that doesn’t include the tree. Guess how much of it I use every year? One box out of seven!
For the last several years, I’ve only pulled out the one box that has all of our favorite ornaments in it, plus my yarn-wrapped pinecones, and homemade stockings.
I believe in reusing your Christmas decorations year after year, so it’s not like I was out buying new stuff every year. Yet, over the years, our collection of decor grew anyway. Because we never got rid of anything.
So why did I keep it all? The truth is because I wasn’t motivated to sort through it before. Out of sight, out of mind. Every Christmas I say I’ll get to it, but never do.
This year was different. I’m committed to decluttering my entire house, closets and all. To hold myself accountable, I made a giant decluttering checklist in my journal.
To make sure I didn’t sneak out of it this year, I didn’t let myself set up the Christmas tree until I finished decluttering. I forced myself to declutter Christmas decorations BEFORE I was allowed to do any Christmas decorating.
We usually put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving, but this year I spent Black Friday hauling out all the boxes and going through them.
I would have rather been decorating the tree, but I know decluttering would be worth the wait. I kept imagining how awesome it will be to put the decorations away this year without trying to cram them in the closet. I pictured how easy it will be next year to pull out just one bin and start decorating.
I just simplified Christmas for years to come.
I challenge you to take some time this week to declutter Christmas decorations. Your future self will thank you. You might have more or less decor than I did, but most people can do this in a couple of hours.
Declutter Christmas Decorations in 4 Simple Steps
Step 1 – Get It All Out
It has to get worse before it gets better. Get out ALL of your Christmas decorations and put them together in one spot.
I moved all my storage boxes to the dining room table. I started out with seven boxes, which felt like 5-6 too many.
Step 2 – Choose a limit.
Choosing a new storage limit is the most crucial step. You must do this before you start sorting through everything.
Set a limit for what you’ll keep going forward. Pick a reasonable but ambitious goal.
I didn’t want to store seven boxes of Christmas decorations anymore. I decided to limit myself to the one large bin, plus one smaller bin for keepsakes and fragile ornaments. In reality, that’s all we’ve been using to decorate with for the last several years anyway.
Step 3 – Do a Quick Purge and Sort
Grab a garbage bag and a box or bag for donations.
Open all your storage totes, boxes, and bags. Quickly go through and grab out anything you immediately know you don’t want to keep. Decide if it can be donated or trashed.
If your uncertain about an item, leave it for now.
Now is also a good time to sort what remains quickly. Organize items by category, like keepsakes, ornaments, tabletop decor, etc.
During my quick purge, I realized the cardboard box was almost empty. It was filled with crumpled up tissue paper. I assume one year I put all the tissues in the box, then forgot about them later when we took down the tree and packed up the ornaments. The empty box became my donation box.
With the quick purge and sort process, I eliminated three storage bins in less than 15 minutes. I sorted the rest of the items by type and put them in the remaining bins.
The bins I emptied had a random assortment of stuff we hadn’t used in years and wouldn’t use again. For one, the colors don’t fit with our favorite Christmas decorations. So I quickly filled the donation box.
Step 4 – Final Sort
Everything must fit in your new storage limit. Continue to sort and purge until you’ve reached your goal.
With three boxes left, I decided to do a more sorting to group like ornaments together. Sorting allowed me to see everything I was considering keeping and it helped me get rid of things that didn’t fit in. I removed items that didn’t coordinate color-wise, which weren’t the same level of quality, or that didn’t match our style. The one exception was keepsakes – ornaments my children had made. I’m keeping all those handprint ornaments! (See more about handling keepsakes and heirlooms below.)
One thing that helped at this point was reflecting on decorating our tree the past few years. It’s always fun when we start out, but by the end, we’re searching for “bare spots” to hang a few last ornaments. A clear sign we have more than enough and could stand to let some go.
By doing the final sort, I was able to eliminate two more boxes-worth. I was down to an amount that I knew would fit in the large and small bin I had set as my storage limit. Just to make sure, I packed everything up to see how it fit.
Everything fit with room to spare! But don’t think for a second I’m adding any more decorations to my collection. Instead, I’ll use the space at the top of this bin for our faux garland and stockings.
At this point, I was excited that I won’t ever have to sort through the ornaments again while we’re decorating the tree. Now I know everything in these two boxes can go on display – we love it all.
That’s it. Just two bins left.
If you’ve already decorated your tree, I recommend giving it a look over and pulling off any ornaments you don’t love. Estimate how much storage you’ll need for the remaining decorations and make sure it fits within the storage limit you’ve set.
What about keepsakes and heirlooms?
Traditions and memories are an important part of Christmas. But that doesn’t mean you have to keep every single handmade ornament that has ever entered your house.
Don’t get me wrong, handmade ornaments from your kiddos are the best. But I bet you have a million, and they don’t all have memories attached to them.
These were my guidelines for decluttering keepsake and handmade ornaments:
- If it has a handprint, footprint, or fingerprints from one of my kids, it stays forever.
- If it has a photo of my kids or other family members, it stays.
- If it is memorable, like the “Live, Laugh, Love” ornament my best friend tied to our wedding present, it stays forever.
- No matter what it looks like, if one of my kids fondly remembers making it, it stays.
- If it’s one of my childhood ornaments, like the angel tree-topper I had growing up, it stays.
- If it’s not marked with a name and year and I don’t know who made it (meaning I have no memory of it), it can go.
- If my children ask who made it and neither remembers without looking for a name on the back, it can go.
- If it’s broken and not attached to a special memory, it can go.
As for heirloom decorations, like a ceramic village or train set, you can keep those, and they don’t count against your storage limit. However, if you’re holding on to them but not displaying them, you may want to reconsider.
Maybe you should find a place to display them. If you’re keeping them with the hopes of passing them on to your kids one day, but you never display them, then your kids won’t develop fond memories of them. When you eventually pass them down, they’ll be meaningless. Put them out and let your kids build memories of them.
If you don’t want to display the heirlooms and don’t plan to pass them down to your kids, it’s probably time to let them go. First, see if anyone else in your family, like a sibling, would like them. If not, consider selling vintage decorations that are in good condition and give someone else the chance to enjoy them.
Can I tell you, it feels so good to be done! Yesterday, I got my reward. Two days later than usual, we put up the Christmas tree and trimmed it with all of our favorite ornaments – even some keepsakes I found in the other storage boxes we usually never opened.
Now that all the Christmas decor is out of the storage room, you can bet I’ll be decluttering the rest of the storage room before it’s time to put the Christmas tree away again.