Three sets of doting grandparents, plus a bunch of loving aunts and uncles, mean that my kids get deluged with gifts during the holiday season. There are worse problems to have, to be sure, but in our tiny house we often end up struggling to find room for all the new treasures.
So we’ve started a new pre-holiday tradition: the purge. In the weeks after Thanksgiving, we systematically sort through various areas of the house, gathering up unneeded and unwanted goods to recycle, repurpose, and donate. This way, these parts of our home get a much-needed organizational makeover, and we get the chance to pass along our gently-used goods to someone who might need them more: shelters, children’s hospitals, charity thrift stores, and the like.
Tackle a different part of this list every few days and you, too, will be ready for the gifts that are soon to come.
- The Playroom or Kids’ Room
To me, this is the first — and most important place — to start your plan. Involve your kids by helping them choose toys that they’ve outgrown or which they no longer play with. Then you can help them choose a worthy organization to donate the toys, or consider selling them online or via a consignment store to earn some cash towards your own holiday shopping. Toys that are broken or that are missing pieces might be able to be recycled or repurposed for craft projects.
If you haven’t done so already when the weather turned cold, now is a good time to sort through closets and dressers to cull your family’s wardrobe of clothing that no longer fits or that you rarely wear. Consider donating coats or warm clothing like sweaters to a coat drive, while other clothing can be donated to local or national clothing donation programs. With fewer things cluttering your closets and drawers, you’ll be able to find something to wear quickly and more easily, and you’ll have plenty of room for any wearable gifts you might receive.
- Media Center
If the latest video game system is on your wish list, you might want to get your media center ready for the new addition. Gather up obsolete or unused electronics, phones, remotes, spent batteries, cables, and other equipment. If you have all the components to equipment that still works, you might be able to sell or give it away, but equipment that is outdated or no longer works should be e-cycled so that various components can be reused and the rest can be disposed of safely and responsibly.
- The Refrigerator and Pantry
Holiday meals, bottles of bubbly, gift baskets, and tins of cookies… not to mention ingredients for holiday feasts and parties, and the leftovers that follow. Make room for all those goodies by doing a thorough cleaning of your refrigerator and pantry. Compost or throw away food that’s gone bad, and consider donating non-perishable goods to a local food drive. At this time of year, there are likely plenty in your community.
- The Bookshelf
I’m always excited when I see novels and cookbooks under the tree, but our overflowing bookshelves can’t take another volume. This is why I plan to scan my shelves for books that I don’t think I’ll read again, cookbooks that I didn’t love, and kids’ books that are outgrown. Since books typically stay in good condition, there is absolutely no reason they should ever end up in the landfill. Invite some friends over with their own no-longer-wanted books and swap them amongst yourselves, or find a worthy resource to donate them.