In the wake of Christmas festivities, are you looking around the house and feeling overwhelmed? If so, you aren’t alone.
“The holidays just seem to get bigger every year,” said Kay Morrison, owner of The Occasional Wife, a company with services on the north shore, in Metairie and in New Orleans that, among its many offerings, does professional de-cluttering and organizing. “We get a lot of calls starting actually in October to help with preparing for the holiday rush of parties, decorating and just stuff.”
Not to worry, however, if you didn’t call in the professionals months ago. You can still get control of the situation. Stasia Cymes, professional organizer and owner of Clear the Clutter in New Orleans, says the first place to start is to look carefully at the gifts you just received.
Thanks, but no thanks
“Did you get something you just don’t like? If so, don’t hesitate — a gift is not an obligation. Pass it on to someone else or donate it immediately,” she advised. “People think they need to keep something they don’t want so they can wear it or display it in front of the person who gave it to them, but I say don’t do that. All you do is encourage them to buy you more items similar to that in the future.
“Instead, I ask, ‘Over the years, has that person ever given you something you did like?’ Most likely they have. Wear or display that instead.”
There’s also always the option of re-gifting.
“That can be a great way to save yourself some money,” she said. “The main worry, of course, is that you’ll end up re-gifting something to the person who gave it to you. A simple way to avoid that is just to stick a little post-it note on the tag or somewhere on the item that has the name of who gave you the item.”
What about decorations? Cymes recommends that before you put anything back into storage, look first at what is still in the box that you didn’t use this year. Chances are, you can get rid of those items.
“It’s a good idea to take stock of all your decorations,” Morrison advised. “Are they getting a bit too worn?”
Follow a color scheme when putting them away. “For decorations, this is the only time I tell people not to use clear storage bins. Instead, go with color coding — red or green bins for Christmas, orange bins for Halloween,” she said.
Want to avoid pulling out a wad of tangled holiday lights next year? Morrison advises wrapping your lights around an empty wrapping paper roll or paper towel roll.
The toy avalanche
Anyone with young children knows that the holidays bring an onslaught of toys, typically to playrooms and bedrooms already bursting at the seams.
Both Morrison and Cymes say this is a great time to introduce children to the idea of giving back by helping them go through their old toys and donate to make room for the new. “Always downsize before you organize,” Cymes said.
But what about those toys they’ve grown out of but still have an attachment to?
“You can always help them create a memory box,” Morrison said. “Take a clear plastic bin and use it for these items. I advise people to label and date each keepsake and then store the bin under their bed and go through it periodically.”
Both Cymes and Morrison acknowledge that children may need a little help with the de-cluttering process.
“There’s nothing wrong with waiting until they’re asleep or back at school and going in and doing some work yourself,” Cymes said. “Just like with adults, sometimes you just need a little help in letting things go.”