If you are having a busy Christmas, family or friends might be coming to stay or visit. It is easier to prepare for them if you have already removed the unfinished sewing from the spare bed and sorted the clothes that really should go to Vinnies from the spare wardrobe.
Then there are the piles of books and magazines – the too good to throw away, the waiting to be mended/fixed, the might be useful, the adult children’s belongings and the things that adult children MIGHT want to have.
If you are having a quiet Christmas, a decluttered home means you might be in a better space – not just in your home but also in your head – to participate in Christmas.
You might get organised and make a toy to donate or you might bake, invite a friend or two for coffee and Christmas cake or wine and rum balls. Count me in for the latter.
Busy or not, you may be the recipient of gifts. You will be able to be more gracious and enthusiastic if you are not imagining trying to shove the gift into your over-full cupboards as you offer your thanks.
It is not easy to declutter. Do you say goodbye to that which has been in the family for a long time and holds memories, even though it is no longer useful or beautiful?
How do you say goodbye to beautifully tailored clothes which you might fit into again one day?
How do you decide to get rid of a duplicate piece of equipment when you suspect that as soon as you donate it your other one will stop working?
How do you know what your children will want when they finally settle down or buy a house? Decluttering is a tiring job as each item seems to require a decision.
For those readers who are feeling smug and uncluttered, let me give you a task.
Look into each cupboard category – linen cupboard, plastic containers drawer, gift wrapping box, elastic bands container (the ones on the bottom will have lost their stretch and recoil capacity!), the bookcase, the might-be-useful jar of nails, the tool box – and from each group remove and delete a minimum of one item.
Remove three items if you believe you deserve your smugness as a hard line declutterer.
I often quote Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her bottom line for keeping an item is that it must give you a sense of joy. If not, sell it or give it away.
Beware passing on your now unwanted items to others. They may not value them as you expect or desire.
Giving to your children is also fraught. Make sure that each child is given the same opportunity to make a claim on that which you are offering. Also make sure that your children do not feel they must take what you are offering in order to make you feel better.
It is something of a phenomenon that when people retire or move house – often to downsize – a major clearing out of possessions occurs.
It is also notable that as we age, we are usually keen to streamline and reduce belongings. You may have experienced this and acted to significantly minimise your possessions.
However, life in a consumer-focused society, along with the pleasure of acquisition and the reluctance to let go of good quality or useable items, leads to a sneaky build-up of STUFF.
An annual clear-out is a great idea and there is no better time than Christmas. It is the junction between the close of one year and the beginning of the next; an opportunity for a fresh start.
Make this Christmas one of giving. Give away all the extra possessions in your life that are causing clutter and not giving you pleasure. Soon enough, after your “out with the old” there will be an “in with the new” starting with the bounty that Christmas brings.
Happy clutter-free Christmas!
Judy Rafferty is the author of Retirement Your Way, A Practical Guide to Knowing What You Want and How to Get It. Available at all good bookshops and online.