Holiday Declutter by Deb J

Each of us has a different day when we clean up all the decorations from the holidays.  One thing we all do though is repack and stash away everything.  This is a great time to declutter.  We have a great opportunity to look at each item and decide:

  1. Did we use it this time?
  2. Does it need repair or a toss into the trash?
  3. Do we like it?
  4. Do we want to change our style/color? 
  5. Has our life changed in a way that requires our decorating to change?

Now is the time to declutter all of those holiday items you no longer need taking up space in your home.  Things like decorations, ornaments, decorative paper plates or napkins, towels, tablecloths, and duplicates of salt and pepper shakers or serving pieces.  I’m sure there are more items you can think of.  How about holiday books or magazines for: cooking, decorating, or crafts. 

This year we are going to be decluttering many things because we will be moving.  We will have two households but fewer places to display items.  Mom is not even sure she wants to decorate other than maybe a wreath on her door.  I will probably keep the small tree we have but not many other things.  If I could find a metal tree I really like I may get one to put the ornaments on because they are what I treasure.

Share with us your stories of decluttering as you clear away after the holiday season.

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Continue reading with these posts:

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. Idgy of the North

    Hi Deb J – I hope your upcoming move goes well.

    We took down our tree yesterday …we usually take it down between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. All the ornaments were previously pared down and fit in a ziploc bag.

    I used to keep the gift bags that can be reused. This year, they are being donated. My holiday wrapping supplies now amount to 2 small gift card bags (we re-use these for the kids each year), 2 bows, 2 labels, 6 sheets of tissue paper and 0 wrapping paper. This a far cry from a few years ago when we had 112L bin full plus rolls of paper that didn’t fit.

    We received a holiday tin of baked goods. We will donate the tin once we finish the goodies.

    • Idgy, you are good. You have really gotten with the idea of not keeping lots of holiday things you don’t use/need. Way to go.

      • Idgy of the North

        Thanks, Deb J. It’s a journey. Every holiday season we get a little leaner. This is the first year of not saving gift bags. Goal for 2016 holidays: no left over holiday gift wrapping stuff. I would love to be able to completely empty the 12 L bin where we keep bows, ribbons, tape, scissors, etc. It’s half full now.

        We noticed that relatives are starting to listen about only giving us consumables or experiences (if they feel the need to give a gift). We received some wine, baked goods, chocolates, soap and body lotion.

        • Idgy, yes it is a journey. If there is more than yourself it is even more of a journey because you have more than yourself to please. You have a great goal for 2016. I hope you reach it. Yippee that your relatives are getting on board with what you want. That’s a big help.

  2. We don’t decorate so I have very few Christmasy things. I did receive at least 3 items of clutter as gifts this year…not sure that’s all…I haven’t gone through everything from our trip yet.

  3. If my kids were living on their own, I would probably get rid of all but 1 tub of such things. But they still like to have ribbon & paper to wrap with. I did minimize these supplies a while back though.

    My elder daughter put up the Christmas tree one day while we were gone & put all the gaudy sparkly stuff I like on it so that was a nice surprise.

    These were our mostly clutter free gifts for Christmas:
    To my husband Sirius radio for his car.
    To my elder daughter an eye doc visit & yearlong contact supply plus payoff of small credit card debt.
    To my younger daughter payoff of $700 loan, saving her $50 per month.
    To myself, a pair of nice pants and a bed jacket type thing for keeping me warm at home.

    None of the things above needed to be wrapped. We also gave the girls a couple of small consumable items but I have 2 small mesh bags that I keep for that purpose.

    We received a box of green tea for Christmas, which was thoughtful. I don’t happen to like green tea so it went straight into the donation box along with a stuffed animal, gift pouch, travel mug, & butter dish. That is all I have to report for now 🙂

  4. I received numerous slave-labor-made items (or other deplorable worker conditions), I honor the giver with “thank you”, but items never made it into my home-straight to charity. I’m not asking everyone to forego made-in-China (by religious prisoners) items. I keep my opinions to myself, don’t want to be rude to giver. However, looking at them makes me sad so not allowed in my house.

    • Gail, it’s good that you can stick by your convictions. It made for a quick and easy declutter to not let the items even come in your house.

  5. Last year we did a big declutter of all the Christmas wrapping supplies and decorations. This year I was proud of Mom when she decided we needed to get rid of the majority of what was left. I have one small, square container of things and she kept 3. BUT, she told me she would purge more once she was moved and knew what she could actually use. We also have 3 good sized boxes of other things she has purged. We aren’t done yet either. As she has energy and time she is sorting more.

  6. Hi Deb J, I forgot to ask how you moms December procedures went. It sounds like she is doing great!

    • Peggy, her procedure went well but her leg was deep purple from hip to toe and swollen to twice its size. She has it wrapped once a week in this special stuff to help it reduce in size. I guess this goes along with angioplasty of the leg. Her foot surgery was postponed. We will learn in mid-February when it will be. She is feeling pretty good but exhausted.

  7. This year I was exhausted by the time it came to decorating the house, so not much got put out. That meant I decluttered some of my decorations before Christmas, which I hoped could be sold by the local charity shops. I kept some things that meant something to me, but I got rid of loads, so when it comes to putting them away, after New Year, it should be very easy. None of the rest of my family are bothered about decorating the tree or the rest of the house, so I could get rid of what I wanted.

    • Cathy, I’m sorry you were exhausted but I’m glad you were able to use this time to declutter loads of things. I hope you are feeling better.

  8. I found a friend who took all the Christmas & non-holiday specific bags that overflowed my alloted spaced for them, along with a bag of bows. That was nice and saved her some cash as well! Now my stash looks neat and tidy and fits where I have allocated for it, and I can actually find the right bag. I just need to find somewhere to donate the baby-specific bags, because I really don’t need as many as I have.

    I don’t know why I was storing a tree stand we don’t use, but it’s also on its way out. I have a donation box near my holiday stuff that I keep until November, because most charities here would really prefer not getting Christmas stuff in January. I did successfully take over last year’s decluttering this year so the box was empty and now it’s mostly full, so I guess I’m going the right way!

    Seriously considering selling some ornaments. I like them, but a few have decorations that seem really fragile and I’m afraid I’ll damage them putting them on and off the tree. I am mulling over if I’m going to actually take them out of their boxes. If I will, they can stay. If I won’t, then I think I’ll convert them to cash! (As they are from early in a popular Hallmark series, I actually could sell them.).

    The biggest win was mostly not having more holiday stuff come into the house, so even the small decluttering is helping rather than just holding the line. Even gifts were overall useful and wanted. And the kid’s weren’t even that large! HOORAY!

    • Kayote, I like that you have a specific place for your wrapping supplies and you don’t let it get any bigger. Great too that you have a friend who could use your extras. If you have Craigslist or Freecycle or something similar put your baby-specific items on there.

      Yay for getting rid of the tree stand. That’s a good idea to keep a donation box of Christmas things ready to take to a charity when it is time for them to sell them. Our church is having a huge yard sale in March and I will put ours in that as people tend to buy it whenever they see it out.

      I understand the ornament dilemma. When we decided to no longer have a big tree I had a lifetimes worth of collected ornaments that would not fit on our small tree. They all had memories connected to them. It took awhile for me to finally gift a few of them and sell the rest. Before I did that I took pictures of those with really strong memories. Your idea of turning them into cash is a good. one.

      Isn’t it great when nothing new in the way of holiday sstuff comes in? If someone gives me a gift I open it and give them back what it came in. I even give back gift card boxes.

  9. Thanks for the timely post Deb J.
    We had no decorations apart from a small Christmas tree which can be easily stored. My daughter bought home two poinsettia plants that were being binned at her work and I think they have made the nicest decorations . They looked great as a centre piece on the table and will be nice and bright around the house . Hopefully it will stay alive and flower again next Christmas.
    We are probably one of the few houses in the street that don’t have a coloured light display. I don’t miss it and I get a good chuckle out of our neighbours who are obsessed with their lights especially when the wife gets upset with her husband for cutting the power cords with the lawnmower (luckily for him they are solar powered.)
    It’s New Years Eve here and I’m so looking forward to a fresh start to the decluttering. I think I will be mostly disposing of clothes that are ripped and worn or don’t fit.
    As I read each comment I get the feeling everyone is relieved that Christmas is finally behind us and next Christmas will be that little less cluttered. I feel better once Christmas has passed, being Merry is hard work. I love the new Year because it’s a lot easier to be optimistic and Happy! So for now, a very, very Happy New Year everyone! Cheers

    • WendyF, I like how you have pared down to only the small tree. I hope the poinsettias make it through the year till next Christmas. We we lived in California we had poinsettias growing outside my bedroom window. They “flowered” about half the year. It was great. We had two that were in pots we would bring into the house during the Christmas season.

      We don’t do outside lights either. We can’t put them up and I can’t see asking someone else to do it. I am fine with it. Mom would like to have had them up. I like going around and seeling what others do but am over these big displays with lights blinking to music. It’s gotten ridiculous. I also doing like the huge blow-up shaped some have. GIve me a good, well lit nativity scene any day.

      I am looking forward to 2016 too. I am over all the hooplala of the holiday season. They start selling stuff in Sept or Oct depending what it is. Christmas music starts before Thanksgiving. By the time it is here I’m sick of it all. I think that other than supplies for crafts there should be a law nothing can be sold or played before Dec. 1. We even had some people who had their outseid decorations up before Thanksgiving. Sheesh!!

      Happy New Year!!

  10. Happy New year to all. Like someone else mentioned I decluttering 2 large storage bins of Christmas decorations by donating to goodwill. There were many nice things that I am hoping they were able to sell for their causes. It was all just too much. This means that only 2 bins will go back to the shed instead of 4. I will probably cull even more next year. In the meantime I will take a declutter break and resume on the 2nd. Unfortunately, I did decide to treat myself to some new makeup and skincare going into the new year. Hope there are no regrets but if I learn from my mistakes, it will be worth it. Guess I still think New year, new me!

    • Happy New Year Anna. It’s great you were able to declutter two bins of decorations. Congrats!! I’m looking forward to next year when we are all able to give our decorations another culling. We will all get there eventually wherever there is for each of us. Hope you like your new makeup.

  11. Hi, Deb J. I wish your mom a speedy recovery.

    We’ve reduced our Christmas ornaments and decorations to a single box. We have no gift bags or wrapping paper in the home.

    • Thanks, Nicole V. Mom is doing better every day. Congratulations on having decluttered so much. Isn’t it nice ot have it down to a managable amount? I have some paper I hope to get rid of when Mom isn’t looking. I intend to have no need for any of it and I’m the one who buys, wraps and delivers anything we get for anyone. I intend to buy as needed and hopefully that won’t be often.

  12. Hi everyone, it is 1.20am here in NZ, 2016 – whoop, whoop!
    Deb J – sorry to hear your mum isnt feeling well

    • Hi Moni,
      Very impressive that you saw the new year in, I fell asleep watching tv well before midnight !

      A happy NZ new year to you all :o)

      This last year I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments & the stories of the journey they’re making. It’s sometimes easier if you don’t have to consider other family members & their stuff, if only they would let you sort their things for them
      I’ve discovered that I really like clear spaces (my father & stepmother are mega hoarders & my Mum is trying really hard with her decluttering) & most of the house is fairly clear except for my piling (filing pile & craft ) in the study. Which is of course worse now that we’ve just had wardrobes installed & Christmas arrived
      My goal this year is to find a way to file paperwork that works for me & that can be sustained – all ideas always welcome.
      Cheerio, Katherine.

      • Katherine, Happy New Year to you too. Paperwork can be a bear. Finding a way that works for you is the thing. Sometimes you just have to experiment for a month or two. I hope you figure it out quickly.

      • Duh, clicked to post before I meant to. Dealing with family can be hard. You can’t make them change. It sounds like your Mom is really trying to change. You may have to just give up on your dad and step-mom. I have a friend whose mother was a hoarder. When her mother died she went in and picked out the things that really had meaning that she wanted and then let a flea market guy come in, look it all over, give her a check and clean it all out. It meant she didn’t have to do it. Once it was all out of there she then had an auction house come in and give her money for the furniture, etc. She had to do very little in the way of work.

      • Hi Katherine! I found theses two links on filing to be pretty user friendly:

        You may find something helpful here…even without adopting his whole system. I found it helpful the way he uses the middle tab.

        One thing that has helped me the last couple of years is to only file standing up (sounds silly, but it works for me). If I have one item to file (or 20), I generally file it immediately. DONT BEGIN A STACK! You know why. If I manage to do this, my filing is always caught up.

        The other thing is to KEEP UP with my filing.

        Also, to set up my file system as simply as possible. It doesn’t REALLY have to be pretty…I’m going to destroy it in a few years anyway.

        Hope you find something that helps.

      • Katherine – we put the ‘aging’ into ‘raging’. The group we were with are all parents of young adults and were struggling to stay awake! Couldn’t let the youngins’ out do us. Yes I have had a nana-nap today.

      • Hi Katherine! I found these web sites on filing to be pretty user friendly:
        Google mattbaier focus-on-filing-part-1
        Google same thing part 2
        Then google part 3

        You may find something helpful here…even without adopting his whole system. I found it helpful the way he uses the middle tab…along with other info.

        One thing that has helped me the last couple of years is to only file standing up (sounds silly, but it works for me). If I have one item to file (or 20), I generally file it immediately. DONT BEGIN A STACK! You know why. If I manage to do this, my filing is always caught up.

        The other thing is to KEEP UP with my filing.

        Also, to set up my file system as simply as possible. It doesn’t REALLY have to be pretty…I’m going to destroy it in a few years anyway.

        Hope you find something that helps.

    • Moni, we are almost there. I’m looking forward to having a new year. Have a great one.

  13. Wonder why my comment above is awaiting moderation???

    • Deanna, I don’t know. Colleen will have to take care of it when she next checks in.

    • I reposted this without the links and it is apparently not awaiting moderation once I took the links out. The info is on Matt Bauer’s site on filing (above…or below…not sure)

  14. I just remembered that I used to have 2 tall “gift wrap” bins and thought I needed another, in order to hold it all. Now I have just one and wish I could get rid of it!

    My husband got rid of a scratched fry pan out of the garage yesterday (why did we still have it???) and I am proud of him 🙂

    • Peggy, we had one of those too. We got rid of it last year. Now we don’t have any gift wrap.

      Congrats to your husband.

  15. While cleaning up after Christmas I decided to get rid of 2 Christmas table cloths & just keep 2 of the all occasion ones. I’ve been giving my grandkids an ornament a year since they were born so when they have their own places they’ll have some decorations. Several years ago I started giving them ornaments that I already own. I picked out which ornaments for next year to give away. Only have a few more years worth of ornaments then will stop the tradition. I have just used lights & holly for tree decorations for several years.

    Also have 2 new bottles of body wash & lotion that I don’t like the scent of, so out they go.

    Also all the holiday paper plates will be used for a football bowel game in a few days.
    Happy New Year & happy decluttering for 2016!

    • Calla, I like your idea of giving the grandkids some of your ornaments. Nice way to declutter and pass along something that was yours. Getting rid of the tablecloths and body wash/lotion is good. Happy New Year and may 2016 be a great year for decluttering.

  16. Happy New Year! I don’t have Christmas decorations, so that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about putting away and/or 365-ing. My husband and I just spent two weeks driving from California to the East Coast, and we were so lucky to see the most beautiful Christmas decorations along the way. Gas stations, hotels, truck stops, town squares…..everything was decked out!

    So, my holiday declutter is to get rid of the five pounds I put on during the road trip. We’ve been away from the mainland US for a long time, so we ate a lot of fast food that we haven’t had in a while. I look like I ate an entire Christmas ham. LOL.

    As for travel declutter, I got rid of some receipts and papers today, and I plan to clean the car out asap.

    Happy 2016, everyone, and happy decluttering!

    • Melanie, you have a great idea there for Christmas. Just travel and see everyones decorations as you go. No decorations at all is different but works for you. That’s good. I like your declutter idea of losing the weight you put on. That’s one of my declutter goals for 2016. Have a great 2016.

  17. I have enjoyed reading and applying all the decluttering advice given since I subscribed to this newsletter. I’m sitting here, 1PM, on 1/2/16 with 5 garbage bags and 2 boxes of “stuff” I haven’t used in many moons. I do this about once a month. In 2015, I lost weight so I went through all my clothes and kept the ones that fit and looked good. I have not replaced my larger clothes, so everything fits in one closet. I got rid of what I call “floaters”. These are decorative knick knacks that I dust and move around and never really pay much attention to until I have to clean them( no real sentimental value). I went to mostly paperless billing, payroll and bill paying, so my paper clutter is almost nil. I went to smaller kitchen appliances that suit the needs of two people and only kept others that I use consistently. If they don’t fit in a cupboard, out they go. I stopped buying so much food. I can see my refrigerator shelves, throw almost nothing out and can actually see what I have in my pantry(this was rough as I was raised to have as much in the larder as could possibly fit…depression era parent mentality, I guess). I’ve accomplished so much in 2015, so I’m going to keep going. I’ve got to get my husband on board, though. He used to throw out everything, now he keeps everything and if he can’t find something that we already have, he’ll buy it again,(Christmas wrapping paper, spices and condiments are the main culprits). Maybe I’ll wrap up the aforementioned overstocked food and gift it next year! Enough rambling, thanks all so much and keep posting the great ideas.

    • Wow, NF!! It looks like you have been working away all year at decluttering and you have a lot to show for it. Congrats!! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. By the way, I don’t think I have seen a comment from you before so welcome to Colleen’s blog. Hope you are able to get your hubby on board soon.

    • What a great comment NF. I think I will make that a feature of an up coming post.

  18. Colleen, great idea to use NF’s comment for a future post. When reading it, I really felt motivated and also realized how much of what NF posted is what I have done this past year. I have however slipped somewhat and need to get back to this way of thinking. I put decluttering in the same boat as dieting…sometimes I just slip up! It is time to refocus my priorities in this new year.

  19. Happy New Year everyone!

    I know I’m late, but over here, it’s common to keep decorations up until at least today (supposedly the day, the three kings visited the new born Christ) – the latest would be February 2nd. This year I’ve been travelling quite a big to visit relatives, so I enjoyed these past few days of really relaxed Christmas in my own home. Also, it’s been really dark, so these few lights do their job well.
    I usually declutter holiday things twice a year – in November, when I get them out, I gift those things I don’t really care about to charity or pass them on to friends or relatives, and in January, when I put them away, I usually already make decisions about what could be decluttered next year and also get rid of not-so-well-fitting presents. Often I receive some Christmas related stuff at christmas (a mug, an ornament, …) , so this procedure really has to be gone through every year…
    Of course, we’re not talking about masses of stuff by now, but rather a couple of things each year.

    • Sanna, it sounds like you have your Christmas decluttering in hand. I always enjoy having things up past Christmas too. I always hate to take down our little Christmas tree. It leaves such a hole and I miss the lights on it at night.

  20. Yes, its the time.
    I set aside all the lights, so I can check them and only keep those that work.