If your family is anything like mine, Christmas means fun, food, and the influx of about ninety bajillion new toys, books, and clothes. Maybe it’s a consequence of my mom having been in the lower-lower middle class during my childhood and thus unable to spoil me so she’s making up for it with my kids now that she has joined the upper-upper middle class. Or maybe it’s just the grandmotherly impulse to go a bit crazy on holidays. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I’ve come to dread Christmas just a little bit because I know we’ll be hauling bags and bags of *stuff* back to our Massachusetts home from New York and we have plenty of our own stuff already.
With two weeks until Christmas, I’m actually starting to panic a little bit as I think about how I can possible downsize before then. Especially in the kids’ rooms! My one-year-old, Bo, doesn’t give a fig about Christmas and if a few toys disappear before then, so be it. But my four-year-old, P., rejects my every attempt to donate a selection of her ample cache of toys to less fortunate little girls and boys. She’s sad they don’t have toys but sure as heck doesn’t want to remedy that by giving them her own. It makes trying to declutter before the holidays kind of a bummer most years.
This year, however, I’ve created some workable, real-world strategies I’m using to declutter kid spaces before the holidays and I be they’ll work for your family, too.
The first step in this process should be a massive clean-up session, with or without your children’s help. Ideally, they’d be right there on the ground organizing at your side but we all know that it’s sometimes just faster to DIY. Grab all the toys that are not in kids’ rooms and put ’em in a pile, then distribute that into three piles: DONATE/TOSS/KEEP. As you put the things in the KEEP pile away, make sure bits of sets are stored together and that everything has a place. Next, do the same for the toys in their room and with their clothes. Bigger kids should be involved in choosing what goes into what pile, naturally.
Make It Flow
Out with the old and in with the new is a good philosophy to keep in the back of your mind when Christmas is approaching. You know your little ones are going to be getting masses of new stuff from relatives and friends, so make clearing some space ahead of time a priority. When kids are resistant to the idea like mine, try to make it less horrifying by specifying a clear number of things – we’re doing 10 – they need to donate and helping them understand it’s a way to share the family’s blessings with others. They should pick what goes and what stays. Let them see you choosing things to donate, too, and if all else fails, make it a requirement. No donation, no Santa.
Like I said, Bo doesn’t care about Christmas and doesn’t know how to unwrap presents anyway. So in addition to a few very tiny things we bought new for him from toy companies we’re fond of, he’ll be getting some of the old toys we haven’t taken out of storage yet. We’ll wrap up the old wooden shape sorter and three-piece puzzle for Bo because P. likes helping him get to presents but everything from us under the tree will be things we already had. He’ll be happy with his “new” toys and P. won’t be left wondering why Santa didn’t bring her brother anything.
Box It NOW
Once everyone has chosen items to donate, box them up and get them out of the house – even if that means sticking the box in the shed or your trunk for the time being. I made the mistake of leaving toys for donation in a box in my husband’s office one year and of course P. found it and took everything back again while I wasn’t paying attention. Little ones who are on the fence about giving away toys or clothes are less likely to be upset if they know (or think) their donations are already in the hands of other boys and girls.
Got any other surefire decluttering tips that help you deal with all the new toys and clothes your kids receive at Christmas? Please share!