Make the Holidays Easier
The holidays are much easier to navigate with tidy cupboards, an organized closet, and a cleaned-out storage space. As you're running around prepping for the season, it’s easier to find everything you need without fuss, with 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 25 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 the wine stain is never going away. Get rid of or donate tablecloths that you no longer use, and consider buying a new one for Christmas dinner.
During the holiday season, Christmas ornaments may become a little worse for wear from children, pets, or clumsiness. If they can’t be easily fixed with some glue and a little time, the broken ornaments need to be weeded from the pack.
It’s tough to throw away ornaments that bring back happy memories, so consider upcycling the fragments into playful wall art. 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 damaged or dingy, or that you just don't like or use anymore.
Mismatched Food Containers
Over the holidays, you may want to send 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
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 6 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, consider taking the time to 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. Keep those volumes that have a special place in your heart; favorites can stay right where they are. But moving forward, instead of sacrificing money and space to buy more books, visit your local library for the newest releases, in either actual or e-book form.
Winter Clothes That No Longer Fit
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 and feeling nostalgic, consider picking out one or two items as keepsakes.
Extra Craft Supplies
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.
RELATED: The Best Yarn for Your DIY Projects
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.
Junk Drawer Overflow
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
Utensil Drawer Surplus
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.
Old Face Masks
Living during a pandemic, many of us have accumulated quite a collection of disposable and reusable face masks. If you’ve been using the same disposable masks again and again, it may be time to swap them out for some fresh ones. Also get rid of any reusable masks that have non-repairable holes or show too much wear that may reduce their effectiveness.
Well-Loved Games and Puzzles
After a long time of use, games and puzzles may be missing pieces. If your game collection is hodge-podged together with replacement pieces made from knick-knacks around the house, it may be time to retire those games and replace them with new ones. The same goes for puzzles. When it can’t be completed due to missing pieces, it’s a sign you need a new one.
Personal Products You’ll Never Use
Many receive gifts with soaps, bubble baths, body lotions, hair products, and other items that aren’t a preferred brand. Perhaps you always swipe the free toiletries in a hotel room, and you’ve amassed quite a stockpile of small bottles. Instead of letting these bottles take up space in your bathroom, donate them to a shelter or social services program that needs them.
Bills, Statements, and Other Mail
After you’ve paid your bills and reviewed paper documents that come in the mail, you generally have no use for them (as many documents are available online). It’s time to tackle the papers in your ‘to shred’ pile and clear up your desk space. This is also a terrific time to reach out to providers to request having your bills sent to you via email instead.
Your Old Movie Collection
When was the last time you actually watched a movie on DVD or Blu-ray? If you still have these discs taking up valuable real estate in your home, it may be time to consider letting them go (especially if you don’t have a DVD player anymore). With movies available digitally, it’s hard to justify storing physical copies of shows and movies on your shelves. That space may be better used for toys, crafts, and hobbies.
Have you ever been tempted to buy one of those products you see advertised on TV infomercials? Sure, the spokesperson swears it does everything (and more!) but can it really live up to the hype? Sometimes, yes! Click through now to see some of our favorites.