Say Goodbye to a Cluttered Christmas With These 3 Tips

An image of a lit candle on a table surrounded by pine cones in a decorated fashion, with soft lighting from a tree out of focus in the background.

I’m a total sucker for holiday-themed products. During the fall, it’s my Acorn Spice Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, and prized pumpkin pitcher from Anthropologie. Once December rolls around, it’s my Christmas dish towel set and ski village snowglobe. On top of these “staple” items in my apartment, I inevitably end up collecting other odds and ends during the holiday season. By the time Christmas actually rolls around, it feels like I’m swimming in stuff! 

This year, I moved into a new apartment, and storage is at a premium. I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce my waste output and avoid accumulating unnecessary tchotchkes. As I head further into December, I know this will be especially important, given my tendency to fall victim to frequent Target trips. Here are three steps I’m taking to have a clutter-free holiday season. 

Give stuff away

Step one is going through what I already have and evaluating what items I’d like to reuse, and which I’d like to donate. Donating is already common practice for me, but it takes on renewed urgency during the holidays when I’m somehow always accumulating more stuff. And evaluating my current inventory is also super important. Impulsive candle purchases are my Achilles heel, so I’ve made a pact with myself that I need to finish my existing candles in their entirety before buying any new ones. Even if I reeeaalllyy want one! 

Use perishable decor

Something I introduced this year is using fresh/perishable items to decorate my apartment seasonally. Some ideas that have worked well for me: real pumpkins, seasonal flowers (or seasonally-colored flowers, like orange/yellow roses in the fall), cinnamon-scented pine cones, etc. Items like these are perishable/biodegradable, so they can be discarded safely and without guilt, while also not accumulating as clutter. 

As I head into the Christmas season, I will be putting up a real Christmas tree (my local park has a program where they take discarded trees and turn them into mulch/wood chips!), continuing cinnamon-scented pine cones, and hanging a real wreath and real mistletoe. Sometimes, fresh items cost more than plastic or Amazon products, but for me, the eco-friendly aspect (and beautiful scent!) makes it worth it. 

Ask for intangibles

Every year, friends and family (myself included) ask each other, “What do you want for Christmas?” This year, I’m thinking it will be wise to move in the direction of intangible experiences, rather than asking for things I might “want” but not really “need.” Plus, experiences can often involve the gift giver as well! Wouldn’t I rather do a pottery class with my sister than receive shoes or makeup that will collect dust in my closet?

In summary, having a low-waste, clutter-free holiday season is possible, even for a holiday fanatic like me. It might take some advance planning (and self-denial), but your January self, and hopefully even the planet, will thank you!

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