November 5, 2013

Pre-Christmas Declutter-Phase 1

Somewhere, someone is screaming that it’s just barely November and I can’t I just celebrate one holiday at a time!


But, beyond that, as we move into winter and Christmas, I find I need my house to feel like a warm, pretty nest and I just can’t make that happen if our cabinets and cupboards are overflowing with crap.  In addition, Christmas is our main gift giving event and in a few weeks, a glut of new toys and clothes will be raining down upon us and that means that something has to give and stuff has to go.

When taking on a decluttering or cleaning project before an event, I like to focus my early energy on things that will stay clean longer to maximize my work and prevent me from having to re-do things closer to the event.  Here’s what I’m decluttering this week:


1) The Spice Cabinet and baking supplies.

Big Daddy and I are pretty serious when it comes to cooking and that means we amass a LOT of cooking doodads and our spice collection is pretty large.  Spices don’t go bad, but they do weaken, so take this time to clean out your cupboard and make sure everything you may need for your upcoming cooking and baking are still fresh.  Spices that are still good to use should smell strongly when you open the jar.  If they don’t smell, they’re old.  Toss them.

This is also a good time inventory your less used extracts and baking items to be sure you’re not caught without.  I only use cream of tartar once a year, so I can forget that I’ve run out.

Having an organizes space will also help you when you’re cooking and baking.  Digging for ingredients takes time and makes projects run longer.  That’s no fun.


2) Organize the kids closets and drawers.

Our summer clothes are packed away until next year.  The hoodies and sweaters are hung for easy access.  Outgrown things have been moved into their respective places (hand-me-downs for little friends, hand-me-downs from Littlebit to Baby Bee and keepsakes for things that I can’t bear for anyone else to wear again or to part with).

If you’re like me, buying your kids clothes is one of your favorite things to do.  Each of my girls have their own adorable and unique  styles and I love supporting them. That means, the clothes have to be tightly controlled before they overtake us. Overstuffed drawers mean the potential for more clothes to end up on the floor and then into the wash when they’re not dirty (and that makes mama more work).  Also, going through the clothes before the holiday season will allow you to identify what clothing items you might ask for as gifts (a vest for Baby Bee or funky tights for LIttle bit) and what you should discourage (T-Shirts!  Pajamas!)

3) Purge your bathroom.

Check the dates on your medicine and consider safety guidelines while you review your make up.  Are all of your bathroom appliances in good working order?  This is another great opportunity to add to your Christmas list!  Do you need a new straightener?  Will you be out of your favorite perfume soon?  Body wash?

This is also a good time to deep clean your bathroom.  Of course, that won’t keep until Christmas time. But if you scrub everything now, a good maintenace scheule should keep everything shiny and bright until Christmastime.


4) Clear off those book shelves

Books make great gifts and the girls always find one in their stockings.  Some of my favorite memories are curled up with the book I got in my stocking on Christmas Day.  But, I really don’t like to buy things for over full places and that means I need to go through our books.

Books we’ve loved but outgrown get places in the Grandma Box.  The Grandma box is a tote that holds all the loved, outgrown toys that I’m saving for the grandchildren I hope I have some way.  They’re little dog eared books and toys held by sweet little hands that really don’t have a place in the playroom anymore, but have too great a place in my heart to leave altogether.

Unloved books are donated.  It happens.  Books are like people, you won’t like all of them.  If your books are very gentle used or like new (and by gentley used, I mean you might have cracked the binding and read it once, but the pages and covers aren’t creased or wrinkled in any way) they’re great additions to the Toys for Tots.  But, I mean it.  Those books should be pristine.

Too loved books sometimes must be thrown away.  I know, it’s awful, but while books don’t have to be beautiful or perfect to be loved, they do need all of their pages.  This is another great opportunity to add to the Christmas list.  Are you missing classics?  Or parts of a well loved series?  I love to buy books for our little friends.

5) Clear 1/4 of your toy storage.

This week, I’m tackling the two bins that stay in the living room.  It’s a small amount and they’re only toys allowed downstairs..  THis is where the odds and ends and happy meal toys end up.  I only save well loved happy meal toys and, let’s face it, most aren’t.  This is also the time where I collect stray pieces to return to their original homes in hopes of making a complete set again. Yahtzee isn’t fun with only four dice.   Try to do this cleaning sans children, they’re naturally argue that the broken Happy Meal toy you’re expecting to throw away is the BEST LOVED TOY EVER!  Do it under cover of night, my friends.  They won’t even know they’re gone.  THis is the time for you to be brutal when assessing what you’re keeping.  If you’re too sentimental (I am) have a helper.  Big Daddy is much better than me at saying “Yes, I know that your Aunt gave this to us in 2002, but I really think you can throw it away now.  Most people like their slinky to slink and I think she’d understand.”

This is another time for things to be donated (lightly used, people.  Lightly used) or moved into the Grandma box.

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