The Balancing Act: Clutter Free vs The Holidays

If you are a long time reader you know that I’m a bit clutter phobic. As a result of my desire to keep my house neat and tidy I’ve purged quite a few unwanted items over the last few years and feel better every time I send a box off to goodwill.  When a charity calls to ask for donations I can almost always scrounge up a box or two of unwanted items in need of a better home.

Luckily I married a man who also craves an organized home. Last Saturday after spending nearly three hours preparing and cooking freezer meals my husband decided to reorganize the kitchen cabinets. He pulled every item off the shelves, stacked them into categories, set aside those items we no longer need or want and placed the remainder of items neatly back inside.

At the end of the day we got rid of 17 wine glasses and kept only two. Funny enough we don’t even drink wine. We kept them on hand for guests, but most if not all of our friends prefer beer, so the glasses went off to the donation pile. We also got rid of eight drinking glasses that were purchased from random restaurants and establishments we wanted to remember. We realized we can remember them just fine without looking at a cup with the name on it, so they were wrapped and placed in a box too. There were also a couple of mugs, cups and other random containers that we decided could go.

Our cabinet now contains fifteen glass storage containers in small, medium, large and extra large sizes, two stacks of plates (big and small), four ball jars, eight drinking glasses, two mugs, four thermoses, three large serving bowls and one glass pitcher. These are all things that we use on a regular basis.

The misfits and unwanted items all sat in a pile on the dining room table. Among them were a couple of mugs I tend to use during the holidays. You know the type, over sized mugs with penguins and snowmen images that are just perfect for hot cocoa and marshmallows.

This got me thinking about the amount of holiday centric items I keep around the house. How many of these items actually make their way out of the box at Christmastime and how many just take up space in the basement and never see the light of day?

I certainly don’t want to get rid of all of our Christmas and holiday decorations, but I wonder how many I need to make the place feel homey and bright. Do I really need a door decoration for every occasion? Among the pile in my basement are those that read, “Welcome Spring”, “Happy Halloween” and “Merry Christmas.” I also have two Christmas wreaths and a pink heart shaped display for Valentine’s Day.

We’ve received a lot of holiday ornaments over the years, but less than half are actually hung on the tree each year. What about all those bowls and plates with Santa Clause’s picture and those perky reindeer? It seems strange to part with these things but silly to keep them on hand when they are used only once a year.

Why does the very thought of getting rid of this stuff make me feel like the biggest Scrooge? Isn’t it fun to decorate the house for the holidays? Am I taking all the joy out of it? Can I pare Christmas down to two plastic tubs; one for decorations and ornaments and the other for strings of lights for the indoor tree and outside bushes? I think I can.

I haven’t bought new items like this in years, but believe it or not I used to have a hand towel for every holiday. Seriously! I used to have a set with flags for 4th of July, pumpkins for Halloween, clovers for St. Patrick’s Day and little pink bunnies for Easter. I purged my home of those long ago and don’t feel any worse for wear for having gotten rid of them. I think it’s finally time to make a dent in the rest of my holiday centric decorations.

How about you? Do you store a lot of of holiday centric items in your home? Do you feel Christmas wouldn’t be the same without them?

6 thoughts on “The Balancing Act: Clutter Free vs The Holidays”

  1. I “double up” on my holiday decorations to save on space. I have a rubbermade tote for each holiday in the basement. Some are color coded-such as Christmas (its red) and Easter (its pastel yellow) and a small green one for St Pattys and the rest are clear so I can see what is in them. Many of the clear ones are containing items of a specific color of items–such as red–I can use red candles, tableclothes and napkins for Valentines, July 4, Memorial Day, and Christmas. Same with green items–they can be used at Christmas or St Patricks Day. In all, I think I have 9 totes, with Christmas being the largest one. I have shelves built downstairs out of lumber and concrete blocks and they are stored on the floor under them, as if they get wet, the contents will stay dry.

    I do tend to decorate for the holidays and seasons as I do part time childcare from home and the kids like to help me decorate.

    • I love the idea of color coding them and buying items that can work for multiple holidays. That’s my thought too. Buy a bunch of solid colored items that can multi-task. Thanks for the comment!

  2. My husband’s mother is a minimalist at christmas…my family has a Christmas closet…..a large one. .my husband limits my Christmas items to three plastic tubs (we live in an apartment) It may not matter to him but I have so many fond memories of decorating with my family and the stories that go along with the items that I want to create those same feelings in our family. Your son will probably make 1000 christmas items in school etc. So purging some now to make room for that may not be bad idea and does not make you a Scrooge!

    • Thanks Andy. A lot of the ornaments don’t feel special to me. They are just items we received as gifts from people who thought we’d like them. I like your idea of paring down items now, to make room for ornaments and decorations (like those my son will make) that actually mean something!

  3. This past January we donated two big boxes of ornaments that I had received over the years (I come from a family of H.allmark junkies) but weren’t meaningful or were too heavy to hang on a real tree. We also donated a huge box of decorations that really aren’t my style — too countrified or too cutesy. My parents’ tree is huge and very cluttered; my in-laws’ tree is sparse with lots of greenery showing. So I came into our marriage with at least seven boxes of holiday decorations, and my husband brought a small instrument case. : ) We have to find a happy medium and find our own style. Also, we don’t entertain a lot, and with twin preschoolers in a not-so-big house, I’ve chosen to keep things simple and easy — I don’t have days to take down decorations!

    • I love the comments about you and your husband. My husband and I are very similar. Except in my case my husband’s family has hundreds of knick-knacks, ornaments and decorations and my family had the ornaments on the tree (a small tree) and one nativity scene. That was about it at our house.

      Actually you bring up a good point about children. Not only do you have less time to decorate, but since my son is so small I’ll also have to be careful about the decorations and ornaments we leave out this year. I’m sure his little hands will be tugging and pulling at everything!

      Thanks for the comment!


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