A Productive Way to Declutter During the Holidays

Image of tangled holiday lights and the phrase, A Productive Way to Declutter During the Holidays Are you looking to cut down on the clutter in your home this holiday season?

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

Every now and then, I like to challenge the idea of what it means to be productive.

As I’ve mentioned several times before on the blog, productivity isn’t always about doing things faster, being perfect, making things complicated, or forcing a project through to completion when things obviously aren’t working out.

Sometimes, you have to look at productivity in the grand scheme of things. This includes being a productive, or good citizen.

Sometimes you have more to give to society than you think. In particular, I’m talking about items and materials you no longer want or need.

That’s right: clutter.

Not all clutter is bad. In fact, clutter can be something in perfect condition that is no longer useful to us, but is useful to another person.

This holiday season, you can turn around your decluttering efforts by helping someone else in the process.

All you need is your home and your imagination. Should you choose, you could even add this to your volunteering or goodwill hours for the month!

Of course, if you are just swamped with parties, dinners, and events this month, you can choose to do so next month, when things have calmed down.

I think these little projects make the decluttering process more enjoyable and rewarding, because you can visibly see how your work will directly impact, and help someone else in need.

You can drop off your projects at a non-profit, educational, charitable, social, or religious organization. I’d highly recommend calling ahead before you begin to confirm what items they accept.

Ready? Let’s get started! Here’s what to do:

Collect any loose or unused containers.

By container, I mean any large item that can hold several smaller materials within it. Ideas include: milk crates, wooden boxes, cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and shopping bags.

Search high and low in your home for these items. Containers could be hiding in the bedroom, kitchen, living room, dining room, hallway, pantry, garage, basement, or attic.

Select a decluttering project.

Choose one or more of the projects below.

Grab an empty container and fill it up with any/all of the items listed below. Of course, you can add in or subtract items as you see fit.

Use your discretion.

Stock up a local soup kitchen.

Go through your pantry or kitchen and find unopened and unexpired: canned goods, boxed goods, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, wax paper, paper/plastic cups and plates, plastic knives, forks, and spoons, straws, and tablecloths.

You can also look through your belongings for any unopened kitchen utensils or small kitchen appliances to donate.

Help a neighborhood beautification/clean-up group.

Round up any unopened cleaning products and supplies including: brooms, dustpans, mops, dusters, paper towels, glass cleaners, dishwashing liquid, buckets, garbage cans, garbage bags, recycling bags, work gloves, paint, brushes, bottled water, snack bars/food packs,

Build out an emergency kit.

This is a good idea for any group. Put together unopened and unexpired: batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, canned goods, can opener, first aid kit, new blanket.

If you have a spare battery operated AM/FM radio or an old working cell phone with charger on hand, you might want to include those as well.

Outfit an entire theater group.

Pluck out suits, dresses, ties, shoes, boots, blazers, coats, scarves, belts, hats, and costume jewelry from your closet.

You could also donate unopened and unused closet, clothing, shoe, or jewelry organizers to help your gift recipients keep everything in order in their wardrobe department.

Give the gift of reading.

Collect recent (past three months) popular magazines and other periodicals. Pull out classic books or titles you no longer read or reference.

You could also round-up bookmarks, bookstands, book lights, and old reading glasses you no longer use.

Brighten up a child’s world.

Grab unused and unopened: coloring books, crayons, markers, pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, toys, board games, books, jigsaw puzzles, clothing and shoes, backpack, ruler, dictionary, blank notebooks, blank paper, and nightlight.

Depending on where you’re donating to, you could throw in appropriate room decorations or organizing products.

Cash in those gift cards.

You know all those clothing and big box store gift cards you have lying around? Why not put them to use? Begin by calling an organization and ask what they need the most of.

For example, if you call a women’s organization, they might need be in need of clothing or toiletries.

Make a list, go shopping with your gift cards, remove the sales tags, place items in one of your containers, and donate.

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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!

Follow Rashelle:
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, 3 Smart Steps to Organizing Your Home, by clicking here.

4 Responses

  1. Dinah Ackerson
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    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
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      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
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    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
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      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. 🙂