Christmas is a pretty exciting time in our household. We were able to spend a lot of quality time with our immediate and extended family, eat tons of delicious food, and relax without many external distractions. The highlight of christmas is really spending time with people we care about, but we also enjoy the gift giving process as well. Although the Christmas season is a time of extreme accumulation for many individuals, it can also be a time to evaluate everything we currently own and the new things we received. One of my goals this years is to end Christmas with less stuff than I started with. Is that even possible? What about with kids? We currently have a lot of stuff (and added plenty more), but in the next few days we will take some time to go through our stuff and donate/recycle/sell anything will not be using in the near future.
Both my wife and I come from very generous families who really enjoy the holidays. We get a few things and the grandkids get all kinds of crazy stuff. They really enjoy it. I enjoy it too, but I also dislike the deadweight loss of Christmas and the over-consumerism that tends to expand each year. We have done pretty well about communicating our expectations and keeping the entire holiday season focused primarily on spending time with each other. Somehow, we still end the year with lots of new things that make it into our house and take up our valuable space.
The Post Christmas Declutter
I reallly enjoy the holiday season and I am quite fortunate with my working arrangement to be able to take several weeks off work during December and January. I love spending time with my family and we generally have plenty of extra time to watch football and think about the upcoming year. Having some time around the house also gives our family an opportunity to sort through all the new things we have received, organize or lives, and remove many of the things that are no longer currently needed. I actually look forward to the process (parts of it anyway) and I enjoy the cleansing feeling when it is complete. It all starts by finding a spot for all of the new stuff and making choices about all the stuff that needs to go.
Our home is pretty efficient when it comes to space maximization. That being said, we do not really keep any open space for new stuff. Basically, when we get something new, something else has to go to make room for it. One of the things I enjoy about (intentionally) having very little storage space is that it forces me to prioritize the stuff in our household. There is little room for extra and we tend to give away or sell useful things that are not being used. Basically, we are forced to have a spot for everything in our house. If it doesn’t have a specific spot it will float around and become clutter. This can be challenging with large items like strollers, bikes, scooters, and lawn equipment. Sure, we could build a little shed in our back yard but I know my personality and I tend to max out any space I have. If we were to have/build more space, we would sure fill it with Justin Case.
Giving It All Away
Our daughter loves books and always receives several each year for birthdays and holidays. Basically, we set aside one small shelf that holds about 15 or so books and we maintain a one in one out policy. We only own her favorites and we use the library down the street for exciting new books every few weeks.
After the holidays are finished it is an important step to actually remove the clutter deemed unworthy of a precious spot in our home. The tricky part is, knowing what to do with it. We can give it away to our friends and family, we can take it to goodwill, we can sell it on craigslist/ebay, or simply recycle the things that are no longer useful to anyone. Each has a cost associated with it. It takes time to sell stuff or even to find someone who needs it. What we typically do is simply round up everything and set a date about a week out for when we will remove it from the house. That gives me time to list the most valuable things, contact people to pickup the useful items, and then whatever is left at the end of the week goes to the local goodwill. This simple process forces us to make choices with everything. It can be hard at times for all the ‘maybe’ items, but I’ve certainly learned that having a little bit of cash is better than a big garage. Set a time frame and get the old stuff to a new home! If you truly need something at a later date you can always get it again.
Planning For Next Year
The biggest way to manage the accumulation of clutter is to develop systems that minimize it coming into our households. This begins by evaluating everything we purchase with the notion that it must be necessary or at least practical enough to occupy the limited space it will be inhabiting year in and year out. I still enjoy buying things and one of the great parts about practical minimalism is that by only owning the most important things, we can get long-lasting, high quality items. Of course, high quality items can be expensive so we tend to replace cheap/disposable versions of our goods as our primary household gifts. The holiday season is filled with excitement, but also tends to be filled with stuff. We can however turn this into an opportunity to prioritize, organize, and start with a fresh slate for the upcoming year. The post Christmas declutter is a nice refreshing way to manage our junk, but also cleanse our household of all the things that are unnecessary.