Make the Holidays Easier
The holidays are much easier to navigate when you start with tidy cupboards, an organized closet, and a cleaned-out storage space. As you're running around prepping for the season, you'll be able to find everything you need without fuss, with your Christmas decor in easy-to-find bins, serving dishes neatly arranged and accessible, and your favorite holiday outfit close at hand. And, as the end of the year approaches, remember that anything you donate to a charitable organization is tax-deductible! Keep reading to find out how to make the holidays more efficient by purging these 20 things before New Year's Day.
Expired Pantry Goods
Take everything out of your pantry and check each label, then toss anything that’s past its expiration date. While you’re at it, wipe down the shelves and make a mental note of the staples you have on hand to make holiday grocery shopping easier.
Dirty Tablecloths That Never Seem to Get Clean
Take inventory of your tablecloth collection. Pay particular attention to the ones that get a lot of use, and accept (finally) that that wine stain is never going away. Get rid of or donate tablecloths that you no longer use, and buy yourself a brand-new one for Christmas dinner.
It will soon be time to trim the tree! As you bring the ornaments out of storage, go through them and pull out the broken ones that can't be fixed. Yes, it’s tough to throw away ornaments that bring back happy memories, but if they can’t be fixed, you’re just holding on to garbage. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, now's a good time to go through other seasonal decor and get rid of anything that’s broken or dingy, or that you just don't like anymore.
Mismatched Food Containers
Over the holidays, you'll want to send your guests home toting containers of delicious leftovers. Take control of your food storage containers now to avoid the frantic, last-minute scramble for usable receptacles. Throw away containers without lids, and vice versa. Donate any extras you don’t need.
Mugs You Don't Use
It turns out you can have too many mugs. But it’s so hard to let them go, isn’t it? That said, there are probably a few that you never use and wouldn't miss. Dig out the rarely used mugs in the recesses of your kitchen cabinets, and donate them to a local soup kitchen or church.
Recycle that ever-growing pile of periodicals that's collecting dust in your living room. Keep a few on hand for guests to peruse, whether in the den or the bathroom, and part with the rest. Don't worry—if you have a magazine subscription, there are more on the way!
Most types of makeup are past their prime after about six months—mascara, especially. Over time, as makeup is exposed to air, makeup brushes, and fingers, it also becomes host to tons of bacteria. Stay healthy and beautiful by throwing away your aging makeup and opening up space for the fresh palettes and trends that will arrive in the new year.
Do you have a box of old phones or music devices sitting in your closet? If you no longer use them, they're just taking up room. Before you drag them to your town's next electronic waste event, why not find out if they have any trade-in value? Apple and some phone providers offer cash back or rebates in exchange for old electronics.
If your bookshelves are overstuffed, consider winnowing your collection and donating your discards to local charity book sales or used book shops. Certainly keep those volumes that have a special place in your heart; your favorites can stay right where they are. But moving forward, instead of sacrificing money and space to more books, visit your local library for the newest releases, in either actual or e-book form.
Winter Clothes That No Longer Fit
Assess your winter wardrobe and discard anything that no longer fits or is no longer in style. Donate items you don't need or want to those who can make good use of them during the cold winter months.
Kids grow out of toys surprisingly quickly. While it’s tempting to keep beloved toys around as a reminder of your kids' childhood, why not donate the unused playthings to youngsters who may not have presents waiting under the tree. Pass along gently used toys and throw out those that have been loved too hard. As you're sorting through, feel free to pick out one or two items as keepsakes.
Extra Craft Supplies
If you’ve worked on any DIY projects this year, you likely have a surplus of crafty items on hand that you probably won’t use again. Donate the extra glitter, paint, and bobbles to a classroom in need, and ring in the new year with a craft room that's primed for action.
Are you a knitter? Do you love the soothing rhythm of the needles? Take inventory of your yarn collection before you start your next project. If an abundance of yarn is cluttering up your living room or closet, consider donating the surplus to local knitting circle charities that can use your cast-off yarn to knit items for those in need.
Don’t head into the new year with a cluttered inbox. Get started now sorting through your emails one by one, and you’ll feel like a weight has lifted off your shoulders when the ball finally drops. Delete junk mail, respond to messages you’ve been meaning to, and sort everything else into labeled folders. Inbox Zero isn’t wishful thinking—all it takes is a bit of focus, determination, and time.
Grab that mess of holiday lights in your storage space and start detangling the wires. Test each strand and get rid of any that aren’t working. Finish up by sorting lights into two separate bins: indoor and outdoor.
Tackle Your Junk Drawer
If it's been a while since you last organized it, your kitchen junk drawer is probably overflowing. Now is a great time to get it under control. Toss out expired coupons and flyers, recycle old batteries, and throw out any unneeded receipts. Get a drawer divider and use it to group together like objects, such as chargers, paper clips, rubber bands, and other junk-drawer denizens.
Gift Wrapping Supplies
Tidy Up Your Utensil Drawer
Transform your utensil drawer from clutter central to clutter-free with the help of a few dividers and a whole lot of purging. Get rid of duplicates, and donate any utensils that you never use.
You can free up a fair amount of bathroom storage space by getting rid of expired medications and drugs you no longer take. To dispose of them safely, check with your pharmacy or local police department to see if they take back prescription medicines.
Unrecognizable Items in Your Freezer
Get to the bottom of things—the bottom of your freezer, that is. Throw away anything that’s been sitting there for longer than a year. If you have no idea how long something's been in there, toss it anyway, and be sure to label freezer contents appropriately in the future. If you notice that you're throwing away a lot of food, maybe it's time to adopt a new meal planning strategy that will help you make better use of the food you have.
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