5 Tips for the Pre-Holiday De-Cluttering by Sophia Sasson

My house is the cleanest and best looking right before we have company. Those few moments before guests show up, I always wonder why my house can’t look like that all the time. The answer of course is the never ending clutter of daily life. The junk mail that piles on the kitchen counter, the haphazardly hung coats and mismatched gloves in the entry, the desk papers and pens that seems to multiply overnight.

It doesn’t help that my kids, husband and I are all pack rats. I am too sentimental to get rid of things; my husband is convinced that he can repurpose every broken electronic gadget or appliance we have; and my kids have the worst of both of our traits.

So what do we do?

I don’t have all the answers but here are 5 things that work for me:
    Image result for clothes donation
  1. Donate clothes. Marie Kondo says  “discard anything that doesn't spark joy.” Great advice except for the sentimental ones like me who has kept the running team t-shirt from high school. Then there’s the advice to throw out anything you haven’t worn in a year. But what about that high school t-shirt? What worked for me is finding a local charity that has a list of high need clothing. They post pictures on their website of how donations of clothes help abused women looking for jobs. While it won’t get me to give up that high school t-shirt, I will let go of that super expensive suit that I haven’t fit into for 4 years but really hope to squeeze into someday.
  2. Kids toys. If you have young kids, the toys take over your house. A simple rule has really helped us get things under control. For every new toy my kids get, they must donate 2 old ones. They don’t even get to open Christmas presents until the requisite number of toys are in the donation box.
  3.  Kids art work and Adult post cards and keepsakes. That beautiful masterpiece created with love…times 400. Yes it’s adorable but there are lots more like it. I have an “art wall.” When it’s full, the kids have to take something down to add a new piece. If it’s really special, you can keep it or better yet take a picture of it for permanent keepsake. This works for all the postcards and other keepsakes adults have a hard time disposing of too.Related image
  4. The desk. I don’t understand where all the pens and papers come from but I send the pens to the kids school PTA. They often need it for crafts and events. Or throw them out. Especially the ones that don’t work. The papers—I can’t say I’m good about it but I have a triage system. Each piece must get filed, trashed, or dealt with by the end of the week. Coupons go in the car because I’m rarely walking to the store. 
  5. The entryway. We all do it. While we have one coat we usually wear, there are at least 2 jackets and 3-4 pairs of shoes per person in the entryway closet. Enforce the limit of 1. Yes I know, easier said than done. Try requiring the offender to pay a $1 per day fine for going over the limit. Then you can buy even more stuff to clutter your house. Just kidding.
A Heartwarming Thanksgiving: Snow Day Baby\Wedding at Turkey Run\Her Thanksgiving Soldier\Mr. Right All Along\Falling for the Cowboy\The Marriage Gift by [Vastine, Amy, Flaherty, Liz, Riker, Leigh, Snow, Jennifer, Sasson, Sophia, Quinn, Tara Taylor, Melinda Curtis, Karen Rock] At the end of the day, also remember to embrace the clutter. I remember life before kids when my house was pristine and looked like a model showpiece. Now it looks like a home. The clutter is what gives it the lived in warm and fuzzy feeling. Do what you can and cut yourself a break if you don’t get through it all.

I hope everyone has a great thanksgiving. Please don’t forget to check out the amazing November and December heartwarming releases and for those who want a little bit of themed reading, check out the thanksgiving anthology—at $0.99 it’s a heartwarming bargain.

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So tell me, do you have a clutter nightmare or a decluttering tip for all of us?



  1. Sophia, great advice. My kitchen counter, that I swore when I moved here would not become a dumping ground has done just that. With mail and stuff I think I may want to get back to. I just cleaned out half of my closet and set out bags for the Vets collection. Only half of my closet, though.

  2. Great tips! I've saved many letters received over the years and am in the process of returning some (not all) to their owners. Interesting to see where we were and how we were thinking back in the day!

  3. Always a challenge to distinguish between clutter and memories. My daughter is the worst. She has everything from paper snakes to live cats under her bed. In the end, ours is a First World problem. Give thanks to clutter!

  4. I'm in the middle of cleaning and clearing right now--your post came at a great time. Hauling bags of books to the library is always so satisfying--and when I put clothes together to give away at a women's center, I always try to picture a woman choosing items for a job interview, or for some special occasion. But some of my other clutter has no higher purpose and off to the recycle bin it goes. And thanks for mentioning the Thanksgiving anthology. I'm heading over to get a copy right now.

  5. I can't claim my home was ever pristine, before or after kids. Sometimes my filing seems to be what my dad called the compost system. If it's needed it rises to the top, otherwise it stays in a pile and eventually gets recycled. Your system sounds much better.

  6. Wonderful advice! And I've often wondered like you why my house can't look neat all the time! If I didn't have company, I probably would never clean! :-)

  7. I’ve had good intentions to clear out clutter and organize better for the past few years. Never seems to fully happen so I guess I’ll call it a work in progress. 😉 I recently managed to strip my pantry of all expired items (!) and lightening the load always makes me feel good.

  8. It's easier to keep a house clean when you don't have kids . . . but it is a challenge to have two black dogs and light-colored carpets and furniture!

  9. I thought my clutter would subside when the kids left home. It didn't. On to the next plan...


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