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5 Areas to Purge Before Gift Season

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Do a little purging and organizing before gift season.


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.

  1. 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.
  2. Closets
    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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

What household purging projects do you have planned? Share your goals in the comments below.

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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

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  • michelle s. 11 months ago
    Just recently I went through my home and gathered a lot of items that hadn't been used or simply just didn't have to room to keep. Not only is this a good idea before the gift season but all year long. I didn't realize how much stuff can pile up in just a year! I decided to donate my items to an organization that helps others with the donations they receive. After searching I came across https://www.givingcenter.org.
    Great thing is that they are an IRS 501(c)3 organization that are trained to handle a variety of donations. And in the end I received a tax deduction for my donated items. So, if looking for a reputable charity I would recommend Giving center as an option. They handled my donations in a timely manner and was very pleased with the process.
  • joanna l. 3 years ago
    Books in good condition can be donated to your local library.

    Soft covered books and magazines can be put out with the recycling. (Hard-bound books may not be recyclable, check with your town)
  • Donna B. 4 years ago
    Closets and under my bed..
  • Susan E J. 4 years ago
    a book-swap party with friends - what a fun idea ! Also, I received a "formerly loved" book for Christmas one year, purchased for me from a used book store. It's one of my favorite books. It had two 50-year-old newspaper clippings in it which were relevant to the topic. Used books can make great gifts.
  • David Ann K. 4 years ago
    kids rooms
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