By Ray Routhier
When you hear the opening strains of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," do you get visions of stuff in your head?
You're not alone.
Visions of holiday clutter are dancing in more than a few heads this time of year. Unfortunately, we live in a material age and there is a lot of material that goes along with celebrating the holidays, from all the lights and decorations, to extra silverware and cookie cutters, to all of those presents you'll get and never use.
One way to calm your nerves a little bit about all the de-cluttering you'll have to do after the holidays is to have a plan. Even a very basic plan of how to deal with holiday clutter once the holidays are done will give you at least a little peace of mind now.
To help you with that planning, here are a few tips from two Mainers who work as professional organizers, helping clients with just such matters: Bonnie Dewkett of The Joyful Organizer in Freeport and Dawna Hall of Organize ME! in Portland.
DO IT NOW
First, here are some things you can do right now to help with your de-cluttering later:
• Take a picture of your decorated room(s) before taking things down, or at least make a note of where things are. That way, if you like the way it looks now, you'll know exactly how to replicate it and where everything should go.
• If your house is totally decorated and you still have lots of decorations in boxes, now may be the time to get rid of those decorations, Hall suggests. And if you didn't use a certain decoration or string of lights or whatever last season, definitely get rid of it, says Dewkett. "If you don't love it, donate it," is Dewkett's advice.
DO IT LATER
Once Christmas is over and there are presents strewn about you, here are some de-cluttering tasks to try:
• Hall suggests sorting all your family's gifts into categories, according to what you want to do with each -- re-gift; donate; store; or use. Hall suggests following the "one in, one out" rule of home de-cluttering. If you get three gifts you love and want to keep, try to find three things in your home you can donate or recycle.
• Put away decorations in containers that will keep them in good condition and prevent them from breaking. Dewkett says specialty containers for ornaments might work well, but you can also store breakable ornaments in plastic cups or bubble wrap. You could also reuse torn wrapping paper by wrapping it around fragile ornaments for protection, Hall suggests.
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
Here are some things you can start doing after the New Year to plan for next Christmas season:
Instead of splurging on wrapping paper with Christmas themes on it, consider buying three or four rolls that you can use all year long when a present needs to be wrapped, suggests Hall.
Julie Falatko of South Portland starts her de-cluttering process far in advance by considering what sort of presents she'll give and from whom she'll accept gifts.
"I've been pretty ruthless about cutting out gifts from extended family. My kids don't need the things, and I don't think our relatives need to go out and buy something. We do a visit or two with far-off relatives during the year, and that's better than anything under the tree," said Falatko, who blogs about her family at worldofjulie.com.
When considering what to buy her own four children, Falatko wants gifts that will last a long time and that "we can put somewhere in our house."
"I get books that can go on the bookshelf, Legos that can go in the Lego bin, pretend food that can go in the play kitchen," said Falatko. "I was considering buying something called the Chaos Tower this year, and, while it looked awesome, I couldn't really think of where we would put it and all its parts."
And maybe that last part is the most crucial strategy for avoiding holiday clutter -- don't acquire more stuff than you have room for.
Here's wishing you a happy de-cluttering and a streamlined New Year.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:
Storage containers for, clockwise from upper left, ornaments, artificial trees, wreaths and lights are available at retailers including Kohl’s. The items above range in price from $29.99 to $34.99.