Mini Mission Monday ~ Pre Christmas prep

Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It takes the guess work out of decluttering and makes it easy and “fun” for you to achieve some quick decluttering.

This week at 365 Less Things we are launching a preemptive strike on the Christmas/holiday season. Time to do some pre-holiday decluttering and organising so when you break out those decorations, the guests arrive and the presents are opened, there is enough room to accommodate them. The more organised you are now the smoother the days will run when you are truly in the thick of it.

Monday – Minimise the clutter in the areas that your Christmas/holiday decoration will be adorning. It will save you effort when the time comes to deck the halls.

Tuesday -Study my uncluttered gift giving guides here and here to help you find uncluttering gift for your loved ones and to make suggestion of uncluttering gifts for yourself should anyone ask.

Wednesday -Have the, perhaps dreaded, conversation with the grandparents about giving gifts of experiences to your children so your home isn’t overrun with toys.

Thursday -Declutter the kids toy area to make room for the inevitable influx of new fun things. Regardless of how much you manage to contain the influx you will still need room. Kid will be kids and it is there job to have fun.

Friday - If, like me, you are decluttering your craft supplies now is the time to make your holiday/Christmas cards if you haven’t done so already.

Saturday – Start getting the guest room ready. Declutter any excess stuff in there to make it comfortable for those coming to stay. Make arrangement to borrow extra bedding if necessary for any overflow.

Sunday – Start having a “use it up” declutter of the freezer. Eat through all those double ups and half eaten packages so that there is plenty of space for the holiday food.

Good luck and happy decluttering

Today’s Declutter Item

I got a jump start on the holiday season months ago and have been saving this photo to share with you at the appropriate time. I think that time is today. This accounts for about half of the decorations I had, not including the tree. More reductions to follow.


Decorations decluttered earlier on in the year.

Something I Am Grateful For Today

Hubby and I had a nice long walk on Sunday afternoon. The weather was beautiful, the sun was beating down but the breeze was cooling. I love watching the ocean and checking out all the lovely building up above the beach. 

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  • Mini Mission Monday ~ Silly season stuff Mini Mission Monday is about finding ten minutes a day to declutter. To make it easy for you, each Monday I set seven declutter missions, one for each day of the week for you to follow. It […]
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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Monday’s idea to declutter the area where the tree, etc. will be is genius Colleen. As for the holiday crafts, yesterday while watching TV with the girls, I went through my stitchery collection and found a cross stitch Christmas stocking kit. I could not have been more stunned. I HATE cross stitching. Why in the world would I have a cross stitch stocking kit? Truly, I am mystified, but I know what’s happening to it next – onto Ebay it goes.

    • Cindy,

      I would take the cross stitch if you wanted to send it to me. I love cross stitch and would love to make more Christmas type stuff for gifting. It’s a win-win. :o) I’d be happy to pay your shipping costs.

      If you are interested, my email is and you can let me know if you want my address.


    • Hi Cindy,
      looks like you have a few mini missions that need doing this week then. The cross stitch was most likely a piece of unwanted gift clutter. When I was younger I could tell you where every item, no matter how obscure, came from but now I more and more often find things and thing ‘How in heaven did that get here.’ Seems like I finding stuff but losing my marbles at the same time. 😆

  2. I like the video Colleen. That was your creation, was it not?

    • Yes it was but I was having trouble getting it to appear on the page so I asked Steve to take care of it for me. What I neglected to tell him was that is was for tomorrows post. Never mind I have removed it and it will appear again tomorrow,

  3. We’ve been eating out of our freezer for the past week & wow – what a different that has made! Not only have we freed up freezer space, but we barely spent any money on groceries this past week as there was plenty in our freezer to chose from. Now I will have decent room for holiday frozen goodies & won’t have to cram it in my freezer.

    Also, a few years ago, I came up with a neat little system to keep me alerted to just what’s in my freezer. It’s simply a dry erase board inventory.
    I literally pulled out everything from my freezer & wrote on a small dry erase board the following: what I had in the freezer & the quantity on hand. The dry erase board is atop my fridge & I can quickly pull it down & take a look-see quickly to “see” what’s in the freezer & as I use up something – I simply change the quantity or erase it all together.
    This keeps me from over-buying bags of vegetables that I already have or neglecting those frozen steaks that got buried underneath it all only to succumb to freezer burn. It’s a easy system for me to keep tabs on & update as needed.

    • Hi Jane,
      well you have got a jump on this weeks mini missions, good for you! I like the sound of your freezer inventory system but the question has to be asked ~ How did it get full again? I guess it was full of variety rather than double ups. I don’t have this problem with my freezer because mine is so small it is easy to see everything that is in there in a glance. Things do get lost in the back of the fridge sometimes though but never for long because I like it to be just about empty at least one a week. We have a lot of leftover nights here.

      • I’ll tell ya how our freezer keeps getting slam full in 3 words: Husband. Costco. Parrots.
        The husband is always trying to perfect his BBQ recipe so he buys ribs & brisket like regular people buy milk. Then there’s the custom-blended frozen veggie mix we make up for the pet parrots. Thus Costco.

        Nevermind that my freezer is a bottom fridge style & thus not terribly roomy to begin with (my choice) & I have to arrange things just so like a game of Tetris or the door won’t close.

        Then there’s chili competition season……

        • I was laughing reading your comment. Husbands they are funny things aren’t they, funny but infuriating at times. Oh well it could be worse he might be into restoring vintage cars or something.

          They didn’t even make freezers at the bottom when my 24 year old little 340lt fridge/freezer was made. What a great fridge/freezer it has been though. 24 years old and still chill’n.

        • Oh my husband is a holy terror when it comes to the freezer. *MY* freezer style is top drawer = veg and sides, middle drawer = veggie meals (leftover portions I;ve frozen) or things to make veggie meals with (meat substitutes), bottom drawer = meat-based meals and meat/fish. I label the containers with whats in it and date so I know what is there and can see at a glance what needs topping up. then my husband goes shopping and fills it all up with crap!

          • Hi Sarah,
            I almost missed your comment, it must have snuck in under my radar between pages. That happens when I get a little behind in responding. Anyway may I extend to you a warm welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for dropping by to leave a comment.

            I am lucky that my husband eats low carb everyday except Saturday so he doesn’t buy any rubbish to store in the house. His resistance wouldn’t stand up to that. On Saturday though I make a hearty not so healthy breakfast and then we splurge on coffee and cake at one of our favourite cafés and then again on takeout for dinner. We get to indulge and I only have to cook breakfast. Win Win! the only problem is I don’t eat his no carb diet the rest of the week so I have to restrain myself a bit on the Saturdays or I would soon be the size of a barn. 😆

  4. Colleen,

    Yesterday we went through the video games and gaming system and came up with an extra Wii (don’t ask) and a Nintendo DSi that wasn’t getting used, along with a bunch of games. We took them to our local Gamestop and got over $200 in credit. I let the boys each pick out one new game (which they were going to do for their birthdays anyway) and I still have over $100 to use towards Christmas purchases. And we got rid of two game systems and about 10-15 games. They won’t get that many new ones and the game systems are gone, so that’s a total win as far as I’m concerned.

    Four of the game boxes had to come back because the kid had forgotten to put the actual GAME into the box, so I will have four more games to take over there when I am ready to shop. Bonus.

    • Hi Chelle,
      “don’t ask” now that is an ask! I don’t understand how a household ends up with and extra Wii and DSi. 😕 I would have sold them on ebay you would have got a whole lot more for them than at Gamestop. I agree, it is a lot less bother just taking them down to the store but those places are a bit miserly with their trade in amounts. Oh well, at least they are out of the house and in a place where they will go to someone who will appreciate them.

      • It is an embarrassing over-consumption on my middle son’s part. First he wanted the Wii and the DSi. Then the Playstation 3 and the PSP came out and he no longer wanted the first two. So we had them just sitting around taking up space, along with the games.

        I might have gotten more on eBay, but I would much rather just run them to the store and get credit. Lazy, but if I was going to sell them, I would have to commit to going to the post office, which at this time of year is a madhouse.

        I also decluttered my yarn that I recently bought and am mailing it off to a FB friend who is learning to knit. It’s all boxed up and will be going to the post office. I was not going to use it as I had planned and it was taking up space in my sewing box. Now my sewing projects have been decluttered and everything fits in the box.

        Slow…so slow! I haven’t been able to tackle the pictures yet. It’s just too overwhelming. I go through every so often and throw away ones that are peoples’ backsides or blurry or I think are bad photos of the person. It needs a major culling, so for right now, I have moved them into the empty cabinets in my family room to wait until after Christmas. I might be able to tackle them then! Why is that the hardest thing to get properly taken care of? I’m always afraid I’m going to be sorry if I get rid of pictures of people from the early 1900’s that I don’t know…so silly! Who will know if I get rid of them?

        • Hi Chelle,
          over-consumption is certainly a problem these days. Lets hope the world financial crisis will at least teach us all that this is not the way to live.

          I understand you not wanting to go to the bother of ebay it can be time consuming and as you say the PO is crazy at this time of year. I on the other hand will put up with all of that in order to make top dollar. One thing I don’t mind hoarding is money. 😆

          The yarn situation sound interesting. I gather you bought it on impulse with an idea in mind but no real plan. Never mind at least you have found a home for it.

          I can understand your slowness over those photos I am still doing a pretty good job of ignoring mine. If those 1900 photos are old photos why not check through your family to see if anyone is tracing the family tree who would appreciate receiving those photos from you. Better that they are preserved for history by someone who cares. They may even be able to identify the people in them.

  5. *Squeals with delight* I have waited all year to start decluttering christmas, last year we had a feeble attempt at it, and after christmas i thought i would throw some away. However, after the festive season passing in a blur due to my husband loosing his Dad, i just literally threw them all in tubs and put them in the loft. So i actually am looking forward to sorting it all out and minimizing it all. I also need to moniter how much wrapping paper i use as i buy it in January, along with cards at super cheap prices, but i seem to have an awful lot.

    Loved the little video, was that your house?
    Sharron x

    • Sharron,

      My husband lost his father too this past July and I am really worried about the holiday season. There is nothing he wants for Christmas (because obviously I can’t give him what he really wants), so I’m struggling with how much to decorate and whether to give him gifts. He’s hard to buy for anyway. I think he might appreciate a weekend away more than anything, which bears thinking about. No clutter and some time to himself to grieve.

      I’m sorry for your husband’s loss. It’s really hard to go through this.

      • That is sad Chelle, I hope he comes to terms with his loss soon. Grieving is a process that is different in every circumstance and those differences can certainly make it run deep indeed.

      • Ahh Chelle, god bless you all. Apparently the first christmas is the worst, my father in law passed away inexpextedly on the 13th of December, it was such a shock to everyone he was only 63. So i am kinda thinking this is the first proper christmas without him, last year just didn’t seem real. It’s hard but my husband said that we have to make christmas special, spend time with our close family and really appreciate each other. We now realise that it’s about making experiences and not gifts, so a weekend away sounds perfect for you husband. I am still going to decorate the house, but in previous years it has taken me a whole weekend, i don’t want to spend this time faffing over decorations (i am a perfectionist with ocd) i want to spend time with my husband and kids so simplyfying the decorations is the way to go for me, perhap you too? I really can sympathise with your dilemma Chelle, i too am very sorry for your loss.
        Sharron x

    • Sharron, I admire your enthusiasm. You must be chomping at the bit to get started. Under last years circumstances I can understand why it didn’t get done then. When do you decorate in the UK? In the USA decorating is done once Thanksgiving is done and dusted at the end of November.

      I am glad you loved the video because you will be seeing it again tomorrow where it should have appeared. Little late evening miscommunication on my part.

      • Traditionally it’s 12 days before christamas which would make it the 13th (bad day for us) BUT i am not a traditionalist, i put mine up the first weekend in December, and they are promptly taken down the day after boxing day (bah humbug). I just love it when they are taken down, the house feels so ’empty’ lol.

        I’m really looking forward to it as i am going to declutter some other stuff that is in the loft space, i really should get out more 🙂
        Sharron x

        • Hi Sharron,
          that time period is so short for all the effort involved. I am not sure that there is a time period here in Australia but I would normally follow the American tradition now that it has become a habit. Up after Thanksgiving and down at New Year. I remember out house in America feeling really empty after the decorations came down too. Here I don’t know they have only been up once.

          There is nothing weird about looking forward to decluttering things, at least I hope there isn’t or I am just not normal. 😉

  6. We moved into this house 6 years ago. When we moved in, we could barely fill two of the 14 rooms. Now, those rooms are chocker-block. I have been decluttering along with you, slowly but surely re-discovering my space. Yesterday I managed to get rid of a wall unit cum drinks cabinet. Today, away went the photocopier (well, it *could* have come in useful, one day!)

    My reason for dropping you a note today is that I have just had it brought home to me in spades about what I have been doing to my three children (12, 9 and 7). We came across a 27-year old elephant shaped plastic moneybox and could not find the key, so we broke it in half to get the money out. As I sit here typing, my two youngest are bickering over who gets to keep which half. Because it is ‘cute’.

    What a lesson to teach my children, that even a broken moneybox needs to be kept ‘just in case’.

    • Wow Carol, I can imagine how that made you feel. But look on the bright side a while back you wouldn’t have seen anything wrong with that situation. Now you have seen the error of your ways you still have the change to retrain your children too. I hope you took the opportunity to explain to the children that keeping that broken money box would be the wrong thing to do. In future involve them as much as possible (they have to be reasonable cooperate) in the decluttering process. Don’t just insist they comply, explain to them why it is imported to be less possessive, more consumer conscious, environmentally responsible and non materialistic. Age appropriately for each child of course. You will probable encounter some resistance but better that than the alternative.

      Good luck my friend you are on the right path now.

  7. I think this is an excellent focus set of ideas 🙂

    We always have our last meal in a restaurant as a family at the end of November and then spend December eating our way through the freezer ready for Christmas rather than going out again. There is so much food around in the festive season, although we do try and keep a lid on it!, that it’s quite nice to be a bit spartan in the run up.

    We’ve also started having conversations with some friends where we’ve always bought for both adults and children and suggested this year that we cut us grown-ups out of the equation. We need so little stuff.

    • Well done LJayne, both with the freezer “use it up” plan and the conversations with your friends to cut down on the adult gift giving. Have you considered also the idea of suggesting experience gifts for the children in an attempt to reduce materialism out of Christmas as well?

  8. Oops, due to technical difficulty and miscommunications tomorrows decorating slide show appeared on today’s post. It’s gone now but it will be back tomorrow.

  9. My DH and I have always done the “Griswald” Christmas. We would go shopping for Christmas lights and end up buying A LOT. It was always a lot of work but we would say to ourselves that it was worth it in the end. Then at the beginning of the year we decided to move back to the Hunter and knew we would be renting and probably a small place so we sold all our lights and many of our decorations. I even threw out the tree as I want a real one for the first time in my life. We now have 2 small kids rolley bags of stuff, a nutcracker, a hanging Santa and a table top Santa. As I was cleaning up I decided to get rid of the nutcracker and the hanging Santa and some of the stuff from the bags will go too, as while I love them they don’t fit here any more and I can appreciate the joy I got from them and let them go.

    I realised I can still enjoy Christmas decorations without having to go overboard myself. We will be taking the kids to Hunter Valley Gardens to enjoy there lights and taking a drive around our new town to look at lights which I realised is one of the things we love to do as a family at Christmas. We will keep our Christmas movies, books and CD’s as they are special because we only use them in December.

    Just goes to show a “Griswald” can change there spots. 🙂

    • Hi Debra F,
      welcome to 365 Less Things and thank you for sharing your Christmas experience with us. Although our family fell somewhat short of being the Griswalds we did get a little carried away when we lived in America. Moving back to the Hunter and into a much smaller home had the same effect on us as it has on you. Aside from the fact that we have only spent one Christmas day in this house so far we have found that now our kids have grown the novelty of all the Christmas razzle dazzle has worn off.
      Mind you what would Christmas be without watching the Griswalds and of course the Festivus for the rest of us episode of Seinfeld. Ha ha I love them both.

      • I have actually posted before but I must of used a different email address so it thought I was new. LOL

        I went through the bags yesterday because I needed a book for Joey Scouts and one bag had Christmas cards which will be used this year and santa hats and stockings. The other bag had books and movies and a few special decorations. I remember now I gave away the old cheap and nasty decorations because now my kids are older and we don’t have animals I want some nice decorations. I’m still not sure where we will fit a tree in though.

        I am planning to wrap the books and movies and the kids can unwrap then when we are going to read/watch one so it is a surprise which one it will be.

        • Of course you have Debra F and yes you have used a different email address in the past. What a cute idea wrapping the books and movies. Why not use gift bags that you can use over and over again for the same purpose in the future.

        • Our Advent countdown is a book a night. I wrapped 24 last year in newspaper (!), and numbered each. Each night, my son got to open a “new” book to read. It was a fun countdown, made each book get a special night, and didn’t involve candy or trinkets. We will be doing the same this year, starting on Dec 1. When they get older, we may think of adding the movies into the mix!

          • I like this book a night tradition. I’d still read to my kids if they let me and especially if they would brush my hair while I read like they used to when they were little. They new they could bribe me for one more story by offering to keep brushing. Oh, how I miss those days.

  10. Ha ha, Colleen. I thought I was going to get off scot-free this week, until I got to Sunday. But, I started on the freezer about three days ago and plan to keep Sunday-ing all week, and then some.

    • Ah Wendy, you should know I will include something for every one in my mini missions. I suggest you substitute your own missions for the ones of mine that you don’t need to tackle.

  11. As per Mondays mission, the tree area and fireplace have been decluttered ready for decorations, it took all of 3 minutes 🙂
    Sharron x


    Totally of topic, but just read this, couldn’t agree more, the stae of your house reflects your mind!!!

    Sharron x


  1. […] I had already ruthlessly culled. You can go back and see the photo of that decluttering effort on Monday’s post if you missed […]