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Simple steps to declutter your home for the holidays.

’Tis the season for shopping, decorating, gift giving and celebrating with family and friends. But before the busiest time of year kicks into full celebration mode, consider decluttering your home. Tackling this task before the holidays lets you take stock of what you already have, reduces impulse shopping, and helps you get organized now so you can relax and enjoy the festivities.

Start with a holiday decluttering plan

Decluttering focuses on getting rid of things you don’t need and organizing the things you want to keep. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start small and focus on one area at a time. As you go, identify items you no longer need or use, and separate them into three piles: donate, toss or sell. Then, ensure that each item you save has a designated place and return any misplaced items to their rightful spots. Use storage bins and other containers to keep items on shelves or in drawers and closets organized and easy to find.

Tip: Declutter before you shop to avoid replacing something you already have but couldn’t find.

As you declutter, focus on the rooms that you and your guests will use the most during the holiday season, like these:

As the center of activity in most homes, the kitchen is a decluttering priority. Plus, organizing the kitchen can make it easier to find what you need quickly. Remove non-essentials from countertops, cabinets and drawers. Go through your cookware and tableware, identifying the pieces you’ll need for holiday cooking and making sure they’re handy. Get rid of anything you no longer use. Make meal planning easier by taking inventory of your pantry and refrigerator, making a list of what you’ll need to buy.

Tip: If you’re hosting a big party, consider renting or borrowing items like extra silverware or chairs, so you’re not buying something for a one-time use that you’ll have to find storage space for after the holiday.

Collect and match up clean sets of towels. Get rid of any that are outdated or worn, or consider donating them to a local animal shelter. Ensure that each bathroom in your home is stocked with toiletry essentials like soap, toilet paper and tissues.

Tip: Keep a supply of extra toiletries stored in cabinets.

Guest Room
It’s not uncommon for guest rooms to become catch-alls for other household items throughout the year. But you’ll want to make sure guests have enough space to place their suitcases and relax, as well as a clear spot to charge and store their electronics. Take a look at what’s in the room, then decide what really belongs and arrange it nicely. Return or find new homes for anything that doesn’t belong.

Tip: Remember to sift through guest room closets and drawers, too, so guests can unpack and put away their things.

Living Room
Remove books, magazines, toys, extra toss pillows and throw blankets. You’ll free up more space for a tree (if you put one up) as well as additional seating you may need. And you’ll make the room where everyone will gather and visit more comfortable and enjoyable.

Tip: Clearing surfaces like coffee and end tables will give you more space for the delicious holiday food and drinks you’ll be serving.

Two more important categories to declutter

Encourage your kids to donate toys they no longer use and get rid of any toys with missing or broken parts.

Tip: Motivate kids to help declutter their toys or playroom by reminding them that this will help make space for new items they’ll be getting — and they’ll also be helping other kids have a happy holiday.

Holiday Decorations
As you deck the halls, sort through your existing decorations, tossing any damaged items and donating any you no longer use. Clearing out these items now means you’ll have fewer decorations to store after the holidays.

Tip: Be sure to put away other seasonal décor — inside and outside — before you decorate for the winter holidays.

Save money and enjoy more time for what matters most

Decluttering for the holidays does more than free up space in your home. It can be good for your wallet, too. Knowing what you have and what you don’t can help prevent overbuying. And by selling or donating items you no longer need, you could benefit from extra cash or a tax deduction. And of course, decluttering now means you’ll have more time to relax and focus on celebrating the season with loved ones.

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