The holidays are upon us. With the arrival of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa is an inflow of gifts. While the presents look beautiful wrapped up and ready to be opened, once the gift giving is over the storage conundrum begins. Where can you put all the new “stuff”? With toys for the kids, gadgets for the kitchen, electronic paraphernalia, and all the other holiday goodies, where to store everything becomes a real problem. Here are some tips to de-clutter to make room for all your new loot.
1. Go through all the toys and throw out anything with broken or missing pieces.
2. Pack some of the toys away in a place where the kids won’t see them. You can bring the toys out on a rainy day in a few months when all the new holiday toys are losing their appeal, making the old seem new again.
3. Sort and store what is left in clear bins (labeled with words or pictures) so that children can see what they have and easily access what they want to play with.
4. Let children help with the organization process, and decide what they want to keep or what they might be okay parting with.
5. At this time of year, many organizations hold toy drives. If you have toys in good condition that your child no longer likes or plays with, consider donating them.
6. For each new toy your child receives, have him pick out a toy he no longer plays with to donate.
1. Clear off all of your countertops before you begin to declutter. You’ll have room to lay things out and decide what to keep and what to discard.
2. Ask yourself when you last used an item. If the answer is never, banish it from the kitchen. If it’s only used occasionally, pack it away. If it’s used frequently, find a place to store it.
3. Find interesting storage options that go with your décor. Stainless steel hanging rails, baskets of different sizes, or clear plastic bins all make great storage options.
4. Think outside the kitchen. A vertical step file, normally found in an office, can be useful in the kitchen to hold the lids to your pots.
1. Decluttering the closet is, in many ways, similar to cleaning out the kitchen. Begin by removing everything from the closet and then start sorting.
2. If you haven’t worn something in a year or more, it’s time to donate it.
3. If it is stained, ripped, or otherwise damaged, it needs to be tossed.
4. Sort the remaining clothes by color, style, or season.
5. Invest in bins and storage boxes for shoes, scarves, and other smaller items to make extra room in the closet.
6. Use a “one-in-one-out” inventory system – for each new clothing item you receive, find one you no longer like, doesn’t fit, or are simply not wearing, and give it away.
1. Divide your books into three piles: those favorites or classics that you know you want to keep; books you haven’t yet read, but still intend to read; and “beach reads” — books you enjoyed but don’t need to be part of your permanent collection. Donate the last category of books. Locally, there are many book donation options: Goodwill and Big Brothers, Big Sisters (both have many drop-off locations throughout NJ); The College Women’s Book Center (Montclair); and The Book Nook (Parsippany). In addition, check with your own library to see if they accept used books. If you don’t mind shipping your donations, Books for Soldiers (http://booksforsoldiers.com/) and Better World Books (http://www.betterworldbooks.com/go/donate) are options that “do good” while helping you reduce your book volume.
2. Go through the stack of books you haven’t yet read and evaluate whether you are really likely to read each one (and be honest!). If you’ve bought a book or received it as a gift and know that you’ll never read it, donate it so someone else can enjoy it.
3. Identify whether a book still serves a purpose. Books like dictionaries and encyclopedias are probably not necessary any longer since you can use the Internet to find an answer.
4. Determine whether the books have monetary value. If you no longer want them, you may want to consider selling first editions or books that are out of print. Check your local used book store or http://www.powells.com/sellonline/ to check values.
5. Consider going digital. You’ll save a great deal of room on your shelves if you switch to reading books on an e-reader.
Now that you have all of this extra space, you can comfortably store the new gifts you receive. Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a happy, healthy, and organized 2016!
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