It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as the song goes, but that's no reason to be buried under mounds of wrapping paper, greeting cards galore and boxes of ornaments from Boxing Day sales past. Here's how to avoid a hoarder-style holiday.
Declutter before the holidays start. Clear kitchen counters of decorative items and rarely used appliances to make way for tins of cookies and treats. Help your kids make space for new gifts by picking out toys they don’t play with any more to send to thrift stores. Free up closet space by donating old coats and mittens to the homeless. Move at least one piece of furniture from the living room to make plenty of room for the tree.
Create a place for holiday greeting cards instead of tucking them everywhere. Cards can be pinned to grosgrain ribbon hung beside doorways or onto a cork board set on a console or desk.
LET GO OF DECORATIONS
Take stock of holiday decorations and get rid of ones that take up too much space or carry no meaning for you. Vow to let go of one decoration for every new one you buy or receive.
If you can’t bear to give away decorations passed down by family or collected over decades, rotate them. That vintage Santa light fixture or hand-carved nutcracker doesn’t have to come out every year.
FIND FOCAL POINTS
Instead of decking every surface with sparkly doodads, create two or three focal points. A beautiful tree, staircase festooned with pine branches or large bowl filled with a few treasured ornaments will have more impact with plenty of breathing room.
Decorate with perishable items that do not need storage after the holidays. Boughs of holly, sprigs of mistletoe, pine cones and twigs tied into snowflake shapes can go in the yard-waste bin. Gingerbread cookie ornaments and garlands of popcorn and cranberry can be fed to birds.
PART WITH STUFF
Use holidays as an opportunity to part with treasured items that may be meaningful to others, such as an heirloom ring that could go to a niece or a piece of pottery that a cousin has always admired.
Vow to reuse any gift-wrapping supplies from the previous year before buying any more. There’s a good chance you saved more tissue paper, ribbons and gift decals than you can remember.
Set aside four boxes with lids to pull out during gift exchanges: a small one for cheques, gift cards and gift receipts; a medium-sized one for warranties and instruction manuals; and one large box each for wrappings to be reused or recycled.
Instead of buying lots of nondescript gift items to give in a pinch, such as candles or soaps, stock up on gourmet crackers, artisanal cheeses and imported preserves that can be given as last-minute hostess gifts – or served to your own family and guests in the new year.
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