Every year, before the winter holidays, our family does a major clean out to make room for the inevitable gift haul that will be entering our home.
This is the perfect time for an edit, because the kids are incentivized to let go of some of their old stuff to clear space for the new stuff. Interested in streamlining your home this holiday season? Here’s how we do our family holiday edit:
One: Establish Boundaries + Clarify Values
A few days before we get to work, I remind my girls that the holidays are coming, and it’s time to make space for all of the new gifts that they’ll be getting. We’ve practiced the one-in one-out rule for years, but I like to give them a heads up that a big clean-out is coming. If I encounter resistance, I remind them of how fortunate they are to have so many things and invite them to think about all of the kids in the world who have very little. I let them know that this is our chance to give back to our community and also to reduce clutter and get rid of things they don’t play with or find “babyish.” This is also a good time to have them make their holiday wish lists. Tip: I always invite them to consider experiential gifts like tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream (it’s amazing!) or a movie night with friends.
Two: Edit One Category at a Time
The big day is here! When we do our holiday edit, I have the girls tackle one broad category at a time. Here’s what this looks like: We gather up one category – say games – into a big pile in the middle of their room. I ask them to put any games they no longer play with in the donation bag. And then I walk away. That’s right. Leaving them to make their own decisions takes the pressure off and eliminates power struggles. They often surprise me and get rid of more than I expect. Once we’re done with games, we move on and edit the puzzles, books, toys, and clothing. When they’ve made all of their decisions, we put things back where they belong, take out any trash or recycling, and put the donations in the trunk to ensure they get dropped off soon. Since we’re already fairly streamlined, we can complete this process for all of their stuff in a single afternoon. I encourage you to break it up if your family has a lot of stuff or you find this concept daunting or overwhelming. Music helps. Snacks too. Try to make it a fun, efficient process.
Three: Donate to People In Need
Because we want to emphasize the importance of generosity, I do my best to have my girls come with me to donate their belongings to a local non-profit or charity. This is another opportunity to remind them of the importance of giving and practicing empathy for others. It’s also important to lead by example, so make sure you go through the same process for your personal belongings, and show your kids how much you’re passing on to others!
Four: Celebrate + Put Away New Things
When the holiday gifts arrive, we immediately put away the new items in our home by type. Books go on the bookshelf, puzzles and games go on our game cart, art supplies and craft projects get put away in our art area, and new dolls or stuffed animals go in the “baby bin” in the girls’ closet. As long as you edit enough prior to the holidays, you should have enough space to find a home for all of the new items. Putting items away neatly helps children practice the skill of organization and also teaches them to respect and keep track of their belongings.
Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy holiday season!
PS. Ready to streamline your space and simplify your life? Stay tuned for a very fun invitation coming this week…
Image Credit: Vivian Johnson Photography