By Annemarie Kingston, Professional Declutterer 087 6529901
From time-to-time we all need the motivation of a special occasion to get our homes decluttered and organised. The run-up to Christmas is a fantastic time to get stuck in before we have family, friends and neighbours calling and visiting.
Maybe sons and daughters are travelling home from overseas and you need to clear out their bedroom (which you have been using for storage), as well as the spare rooms for any unexpected guests?
And don’t forget the arrival of our most important seasonal guest! Santa Claus will be calling to all the boys and girls in West Cork and he’ll need a clear space for the presents.
I wanted to share with you three decluttering and organising tips to get your home in shipshape for the season ahead.
1. Christmas decorations
As we all well know, the only items that come down from the attic every 12 months are the Christmas tree and the decorations. Yes?
Go through your boxes of decorations and let go of those with any broken bits; cracked baubles, tatty garlands and lights that are no longer working properly, and especially those unloved Christmas decorations and accessories that never see the light of day from year to year. I do a clear out of my decorations each year and I ask myself “Did I use them last year?’ if the answer is no then out the door they go.
If your unwanted decorations are still in great condition you can donate to your local charity shop or, if selling is your thing, pop up a post on social media, Done Deal or The Friday Ad and get some cash for them.
We nearly always have a surplus of Christmas cards, together with wrapping paper, from previous years; I make sure to use these items first, before I head off to purchase more. Take a proper stocktake of what you have and what you need for this Christmas season.
2. Food glorious food
When I’m helping clients de-clutter and organise their kitchens in my hands-on sessions, the first thing that comes up is that they are unable to clear their worktops because they do not have enough storage in this area. Is this resonating with you?
A common root problem is the amount of out-of-date and unused food that we store in our kitchen cupboards. Start by clearing out all your food cupboards and checking all the best-before dates – you will be surprised by the amount of food items that has gone off!
Bin the out-of-date stuff but if you have in-date food items that you know you won’t use, you can give back to the community by donating them to your local St. Vincent de Paul or Cork Penny dinners.
As you put food back in the cupboard, group items together – cans, sauces, pasta etc. Storage baskets are great to store foods in groups, keeping your presses organised.
Make a list of items you use on a weekly/regular basis by adding them to a shopping list as you use them up. Yes, you heard me right – the traditional shopping list is still vital to avoid overbuying! Only buy items from that list or that hand-on-heart you know your family like, and don’t forget the supermarkets are open again on St. Stephen’s Day.
Kids have so much stuff today, with half the items lying unused or broken. I advise my clients, as well as my followers on FaceBook: whitesagehomedecluttering, to do a clear out at least twice a year of toys, just before Christmas and again before kid’s birthdays.
Remove any broken electrical items and take them to the WEEE area at your local recycling centre, which is free. Any broken toys can go straight into the household bin.
Again, if selling is your thing swap your good quality unused items for cash, otherwise you can donate to some local charity shops – a small boy or girl would only be delighted with it.
Another tip that I suggested to my own family last year was Kris Kindle for both kids and adults. Set a budget so you are not spending crazy amounts of money on just one day in the year. Or to stop receiving unwanted gifts – that you won’t use and that will add to the clutter once again – tell your family and friends what you would really like; it takes the pressure off trying to come up with great gift ideas.
We can get so caught up with TV ads showing discounts and sales – Black Friday madness for example – that we need to remember what Christmas is really all about – the birth of Our Lord and spending time with our precious families. For any shopping that you do, remember to shop local and support your town.