De-clutter to enjoy the holidays

The holiday season is finally here, bringing with it delicious food, brightly wrapped gifts, quality time with family—and cornucopias of clutter. Streamline your holiday celebrations by decluttering your home before the first wreath even comes out of storage.

There are a few reasons to invest time in decluttering now. First, getting rid of extraneous objects will make your seasonal decorations stand out even more. Second, decluttering leaves room for new gifts and belongings you might acquire over the holidays. Third, decluttering now will make your massive post-holiday cleanup much less complicated.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to clearing out the clutter just in time for the holiday season:

1. Do a purge. Go through each room in your home with two bags: one for donations and one for the trash bin. Get rid of broken toys, half-burned candles, ill-fitting clothes or shoes and any other items that you have not used in the past year or will not use in the next one. Organizing a whole closet or room full of things that you do not love or need is a waste of energy.

2. Make a list of things that need replacing. Many people have trouble making a Christmas wish list, leaving their loved ones with few ideas to go on. Making a list of items you would like to replace will make it easier for people to buy you a gift that you love—plus it will reduce the number of returns you’ll need to make after Christmas.

3. Find a place for everything. One of the main principles of organization is that every item should have a home—a place where it belongs. This will keep clutter from building up on counters and in junk drawers. If necessary, buy a few bins or other organizational supplies, but don’t go crazy. If you need to invest a small fortune in organizing your belongings, you probably simply need to go back to step one and purge some more.

4. Make a list of problem areas and tackle them one at a time. You know that closet where you can’t see the floor? The kitchen drawer filled with the detritus of holidays past? The refrigerator shelves stacked with anonymous plastic containers from last month? Make your life easier by systematically ridding these problem spots from your home, one at a time. Perhaps take on one problem spot each day leading up to the holidays. But be warned—attempting to clean your entire house in a single afternoon will only lead to burnout.

You deserve a stress-free holiday. While de-cluttering won’t make your kids behave at Thanksgiving dinner, it will make your holiday easier, less stressful and more visually appealing.