How to Productively Declutter for the Holidays

How to Productively Declutter for the Holidays

Do you want to cut down on the amount of clutter in your home this holiday season?

Would you like a fresh, new, and interesting way to declutter your home?

Productively decluttering your home is a refreshing way to tackle an old problem: how to declutter a living space for the holidays.

Productivity isn’t always about doing things faster, being perfect, making things complicated, or forcing a project through to completion.

And especially so when things obviously aren’t working out in your favor.

Sometimes you have to stop what you’re doing and take a look at the big picture.

You may be surrounded by what you perceive to be clutter.

For all intents and purposes it may very well be that you’re short on storage space, have outgrown use for, or no longer need certain items.

But that doesn’t mean your clutter is totally useless.

It may be perfectly useful to another person.

In this post, I offer an interesting way to declutter for the holidays and give others in your community a helping hand.

That’s right, this holiday season you can supersize your decluttering efforts by helping someone else in the process.

What do you need to get started? All you need is your living space and your imagination.

These little projects make the decluttering process that much more enjoyable and rewarding.

Why? Because you can visibly see how your work will directly impact and help someone else in need.

Consider dropping off your donations at a local non-profit, educational, charitable, social, or religious organization. It’s a good idea to call ahead and confirm your organization of choice is accepting items.

And of course, you can also contact friends, acquaintances, and neighbors, and ask if they need or know someone who would be interested in your donations.

What if you’re short on time for the coming weeks during the holiday season?

Set aside some time in your schedule in the first few weeks of the new year to go through your belongings.

Are you ready to productively declutter for the holidays?

Let’s get started!

Collect clean storage containers.

Take a moment to round up several storage containers in your home. You’ll be using these containers to store your decluttering projects.

Any large item that can hold several smaller items within it will do. Some storage ideas include milk crates, wooden boxes, cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and shopping bags.

Conduct a thorough search in your home for these items. If you’re looking for some more motivation, remember, these storage containers will also be leaving your home, thereby freeing up much needed space.

All the more reason not to hold back in your search!

Search high and low for containers in your home. You might find suitable items in your bedroom, kitchen, living room, dining room, hallway, pantry, garage, basement, or attic.

Select a decluttering project.

The next step to choose one or more of the below decluttering projects. Don’t let your decision get in the way of your decluttering.

If you’re wavering between two or more projects, just select one. Once you finish the first project, you can move on to the second.

Grab an empty container and fill it up with any or all of the items listed below. Feel free to add or subtract items as you see fit, and depending on the amount of stuff you’re interested in giving away.

the productive decluttering projects.

project #1. Stock up a local soup kitchen.

Go through your pantry and kitchen. Remove any unopened and unexpired canned goods and boxed goods.

If you’re sitting on top of a pile of cooking storage and preparation materials, you can extend your search to unopened containers of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, paper cups and plates, disposable knives, forks, and spoons, straws, and tablecloths.

And if you’re really looking to expand your decluttering efforts, search through your belongings for any unopened kitchen utensils or appliances you wish to donate.

Project #2. Help a neighborhood beautification or clean-up group.

Take a moment to go through your broom closets, storage closets, kitchen, basement, mudroom, attic, or garage. You’re looking for any items that may be helpful to a local clean-up group.

Round up any unopened cleaning products and supplies including: brooms, dustpans, mops, dusters, paper towels, glass cleaners, dishwashing liquid, and buckets

Other large items to grab include new garbage cans, new, sealed, and unused garbage bags, recycling bags, work gloves, paint, and brushes.

You can even expand your donations to healthy snacks such as unopened bottles of unexpired bottled water, sealed snack packs and snack bars.

Project #3. Build out an emergency kit.

This is a good idea for any group, be it your local religious organization, school, shelter, or community group. The idea here is to build out an emergency kit. 

Look through your home for any unopened and unexpired batteries, flashlights, candles, lighters, can openers, first aid kits, and blankets.

You can also expand your search towards unopened, unused, and unexpired canned goods and boxed goods.

Have some spare electronics lying around? An unused battery operated AM/FM radio can be handy.

Project #4. Outfit an entire theater group.

This project will help you declutter your closet or wardrobe in a pinch. All items are up for grabs, as long as they are clean, unstained, and in in decent shape.

Head over to your bedroom closet, wardrobe, or dresser and pluck out any clean and unused suits, dresses, ties, shoes, boots, blazers, coats, scarves, belts, hats, and costume jewelry.

Did you purchase too many storage organizers for your needs? You might also consider donating unopened and unused closet, clothing

Project #5. Give the gift of reading.

This project helps free up space in your home and give some thoughtful reading material to others. It’s a great way to declutter and organize your bookcases and table space.

Look around your home for recent popular magazines and other periodicals from the past three months. You can also search for new and gently used fiction or non-fiction books. See if you can find classic books or titles you no longer read or reference.

You can expand your reach here by rounding-up unused bookmarks, bookstands, book lights, as well as any reading glasses you no longer use or have use for.

Project #6. Brighten up a child’s world.

Give the gift of fun and creativity! This project is all about decluttering your home office, living room, toy room, and more! Your imagination is your only limit.

Begin by searching through your home for unused and unopened coloring books, crayons, markers, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, blank notebooks, blank paper, and rulers.

Next, look for new and used toys, board games, jigsaw puzzles, nightlights, backpacks, and more in their original packaging.

You can also look for new and used children’s clothing, shoes, accessories, coats, and jackets.

Another great addition would be appropriate room decorations or organization and storage products you no longer need or 

Project #7. Cash in those gift cards.

You know all those clothing, department store, and big box store gift cards you have lying around? Why not put them to use?

Call a trusted organization to ask if they are taking donations this year. If they are, ask them what items they are in most need of.

If you call a women’s aid organization that’s currently accepting donations, you might learn they are in need of clothing, toiletries, and personal care products. 

Once you know what you need to purchase, make a list, and go shopping with your gifts cards.

Remove sales tags when you get home, place items in one of your decluttering project containers, and donate.

Another quick idea is to give your gift cards to a family in need of clothing, footwear, outerwear, toiletries, bedding, and food.

How about you? Which of these projects grabs you the most? Will you tackle any this holiday season? Do you have any other ideas for helpful decluttering projects? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

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    About the Author


    Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.


    1. Dinah Ackerson

      I like your holiday declutter recommendations. You make excellent suggestions for what to do with decluttering donation stuff; more effective ideas than the standard “Goodwill/Salvation Army” dump box. You offer thoughtful, creative and much more helpful suggestions that can benefit others in many more ways than just a thrift store.

      • Rashelle

        Thanks so much for your kind words, Dinah. I wanted to give people a new way of looking at decluttering/donating. I had a lot of fun coming up with the ideas, too! If anything, I hope the post will inspire new ways to help others.

    2. Betty Winslow

      This is a great idea! When my mom died and Dad downsized to an assisted living apt., we did a big version of this: taped signs to one empty room’s walls, with the names of various charities and organizations, then as we went through her stuff, we placed items under each sign. At the end of each day, the stuff was boxed and labeled with the name of the group. Then, once we were done, everything got delivered. We blessed 10 groups with stuff ranging from clothes and canned goods to furniture and office supplies. Felt good, and made it easier for Dad, to think that their stuff was going to good use instead of being dumped somewhere.

      • Rashelle

        Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Betty. I’m sure taping the names of the various charities/organizations to the wall made the process that much more real, and tangible. You could literally see who you and your father would be helping! As I like to say, when you downsize your life and donate items, you are in effect upsizing someone else’s. 🙂


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