In the privacy of your own heart, do you sometimes dread the holiday chaos? This time of year can be physically cluttered and emotionally stressful. Here are clutter-clearing strategies to help make your home a tranquil haven this season.
First, get into the habit of a ten-minute tidy before bed—spend ten minutes folding blankets, gathering remotes, taking out the recycling and trash, and clearing off the kitchen counters. Start the dishwasher and maybe a load of laundry before bed. It doesn’t really take long and it will make your home a more pleasant place to wake up!
Simplify decorating to simplify cleaning during this season. Bring out a few of the most important pieces and the larger pieces. If you decide you have too many holiday decorations, joyfully give them to younger family members who are just starting their collection. Fewer little items mean less to dust, to dust around, and to perpetually rearrange.
Next, drop the perfectionism—“good enough” truly is sufficient. Don’t be afraid of dust bunnies—many of us no longer see well enough to see them! Don’t be afraid to close doors, especially those leading to teenage bedrooms or little-used rooms. If guests aren’t likely to wander there, don’t worry about it!
Simplify food and entertaining by keeping menus simple and encouraging people to each bring an item, or consider bringing in restaurant or store-bought main course, side dishes, or dessert. Plan a game or activity like stringing popcorn or watching a holiday movie together. De-emphasize the food portion of the program. With food, consider going for quality and eye appeal rather than sheer quantity. Many of us are trying to watch our waistlines!
Reduce gifts and simplify gift-wrapping—I love gift bags and tissue paper, seriously! In truth, the best gift we can give our loved ones is the gift of time. The get-together is more important than the exchange of stuff. I think we know this in our hearts. We really do. If buying for several, use one idea over and over. That could mean everyone gets phone chargers or ear muffs…you get the idea. Focus on people and time together as the priority.
Think ahead about what you want next year. While everyone is together, open the discussion about what could collectively be done to simplify for next year. Skip gifts? Set a maximum gift spending limit or quantity limit? Push the get-together back a couple days? Even if everyone isn’t on board (yet), you will be planting some seeds in people that might germinate in subsequent years.
After the holidays, take some notes about worked and didn’t work for you this year and start a holiday folder. This will help you get closer to your holiday wishes for next year. It is just fine to try reducing over-booking, over-decorating, and over-spending bit by bit year by year. Reading the prior year’s notes will help renew your resolve each year and help you plan better.
Also, plan some pampering for you during this stressful time of the year. Schedule coffee, restaurant, or movie with friends. Get a manicure, pedicure, or a massage. Take a nap. Read a book. If you are nurturing yourself and giving yourself some TLC, then you will be a less-stressed more pleasant host!
Last but not least, hold in your mind and heart the reason for the season. If you can keep that at the center of your focus, the rest will be fine. I truly wish you peaceful and joyous holidays and a wonderful New Year!
Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life, a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips readers may pick and choose from to fit their personal style. She is also a breast cancer and melanoma survivor who wrote Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We’ll get you through this. Free monthly clutter clearing tips newsletter at http://www.clutterclearingchoices.com.