When uncluttering seems overwhelming

While browsing the Unclutterer Forums this afternoon I saw a post left by reader Marta Bergen:

I find de-cluttering overwhelming – depressing, exhausting, paralyzing. So I tried a different method – I will give myself ONE week to do ONE thing. A few weeks ago it was cleaning and decluttering the bathroom. I would spend ten minutes clearing out a drawer full of unused makeup, and the next day half an hour scrubbing the shower, but it worked!! It was the only thing on my to-do list aside from the bare-bones basics, like cook dinner & feed the dogs.

I can relate to Marta here. Uncluttering can be “depressing, exhausting and paralyzing,” especially if you’ve got a lot of other things to do, maintenance seems endless or you simply don’t know where to begin. I’ve been there myself and I suspect may other readers have, too.

Marta’s solution is a good one: focus on one activity and do not let not doing the other activities elicit any guilt. It is a fine example of breaking a project down into smaller steps. You can’t “unclutter the house” on Sunday, but you probably can clean out a drawer or clear off a shelf. Reward the victories and build momentum for more.

But there is no simple solution to feeling overwhelmed when it comes to cleaning and tidying. It’s an issue we’ve addressed over the years. In 2012, Erin listed eight steps to help you regain control of your life, including:

  1. Start saying “no.” At least for the short term, you need to say “no” to as many new responsibilities as possible.
  2. Get it out of your head. The next thing you need to do is get everything out of your mind and onto a sheet of paper.
  3. Prioritize your list. Sort your list into four groups:
    1. Must get done for risk of losing job/life/significant income
    2. Would be nice to get done and I would enjoy doing the task
    3. Would be nice to get done but I don’t really want to do it
    4. Doesn’t need to get done right now/ever and I don’t really want to do it.

Occasionally it’s easy to pinpoint the source of the overwhelming feelings. You might inherit clutter, or be dealing with children’s toys, which seem to be in all places at all times. The one that gets to me — and apparently troubles Marta as well — is an overwhelming to do list.

I love making lists. It’s typically a calming exercise that helps me feel on top of what needs to be done. That is, until the list grows to a frightening size. That’s when it’s time to employ some strategy.

As Erin wrote previously:

  1. Maintain perspective
  2. Don’t lose sight of the details
  3. Embrace some of the stress.
  4. Take breaks.
  5. Manage expectations.
  6. Don’t extend the stress.
  7. Celebrate.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to uncluttering. With a little preparation and planning, you can get back on track.

What’s a kitchen for?

Today’s kitchens are used for more than just preparing food. They are often playrooms, offices, mail centers, and TV rooms. When you mix up so many purposes for the same space (or even the same countertop), you’re not going to get good results. Something as simple as making a ham and cheese sandwich is impossible when your countertops are covered with bills and other papers. Instead of succumbing to this fate, set up different spaces for different tasks.

Ideally, your kitchen should only be for cooking, but realistically that’s not going to be the case–especially since kitchens tend to be the center of family activity. Designate some countertop space that’s off-limits to anything but cooking or eating, and make it a point to keep it clear when it’s not being used. That way, when you’re ready to use it again, it’s ready for you.

If you must bring mail and bill-paying paraphernalia into the kitchen, set up a space for just that activity and don’t let it spread out of that area. (A desktop organizer or mini-shelf is a perfect solution.) Even if you can’t dedicate surfaces to specific activities like bill-paying, storage in the kitchen can help. For example, when you finish eating at the kitchen table, you take away the dishes to wash and store in the cupboard. Why not do the same with everything else? If you pay bills, do homework, or play games at the kitchen table, make sure to clean up when you’re done. Keeping a drawer or cupboard for each activity will make it as easy and second-nature to put away your stuff.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

How long will it take me to unclutter and organize?

I’m often asked how long it will take to complete an organizing task: organizing a garage, a kitchen, a closet, an office, etc. As with almost everything related to organizing, the only honest answer I can provide is, “It depends.” And it depends on a number of factors.

How much stuff is currently in the spaces you want to organize?

Rooms of the same size and same basic purpose may hold drastically different amounts of stuff. Drawers can be stuffed to the brim or only half full. Garages may have been unable to accommodate a car or truck for years or may have plenty of room for vehicles.

What kinds of things are in the spaces?

Papers take a long time to go through, because each paper must be reviewed, and each paper takes very little space. You’re making a decision about each paper the same way you’d make a decision about a shovel, a toaster, or a couch — but you won’t see results as quickly.

Also, sentimental items take a longer time to unclutter because of the emotions involved.

What kind of decision maker are you?

Some people make decisions quickly: Keep that, toss that, donate that. Other people need more time to make their decisions. Someone might want to tell me the story behind an object before deciding on its fate, and that’s perfectly normal and understandable.

How long can you reasonably work at an organizing task?

When organizing, you want to avoid both physical and emotional fatigue. Uncluttering involves making one decision after another, and you want to avoid decision fatigue — because that’s when you’re likely to make decisions you may regret later. If you find yourself dreading one more “keep or not” choice or your body is getting uncomfortable, take a break or just decide you’ve done enough for the day.

How many people need to be involved in the decisions?

If you live alone and can make all the uncluttering and organizing decisions, things are likely to go more quickly than if multiple people need to agree on the decisions — especially if the people involved have different organizing styles and will need to reach compromises.

What do you want your final organized space to look like?

A number of your organizing choices will affect the time required. For example:

If you’re organizing a new kitchen, do you want to put down shelf liner first? If so, it will take longer than if you decide you don’t need shelf liner.

Do you want all your books organized in a very specific order? If so, that will take longer than if you just want them in general categories.

How do you want to dispose of unwanted items?

The organizing project isn’t really done until the items you aren’t keeping are no longer in your space. If you want to sell them, that’s likely to take longer than if you choose to donate them. But very specific donation goals can take time, too. I know people who have kept things around for months because they wanted to donate them to a specific charity’s once-a-year garage sale.

Unless you need to clear out a space quickly, I’d generally advise working at whatever speed feels most comfortable to you. Once you’ve begun the process, and see how much time it’s taking you to do parts of it, you’ll have a decent idea how long it might take to do the rest.

Reader question: Curbing golf club clutter?

A reader who identified herself as elrj sent us this question:

“My husband and I live in a charming one bedroom apartment in a converted historic townhouse. At first, it was a squeeze because the place doesn’t have much storage/closet space at all. But, with some re-arranging and advice from blogs like this, we have massaged our little home into a wonderfully live-able and entertain-able space. Then I bought a bike. Combined with his, they take up the entire hallway, and when you add the golf clubs (previously stored in the trunk of our car) we’ve got quite the sports-themed house. We have no yard/outside to chain them to, and we use them regularly. What do you do with such things in an efficiency?”

Storing sporting equipment in an efficiency can be a headache. When my husband and I first moved in together in our 850 sq. foot one bedroom, our lack of space was almost enough to convince me drop sports all together. I know your pain and understand it.

As far as your bikes are concerned, we’ve already published a couple posts on this topic on the site. The posts themselves have some strong ideas, but be sure to read the comments where many of our readers offer up terrific alternatives: Single hook bike solution and Bike storage solutions.

We’ve never discussed golf clubs on the site, though, so I want to spend the remainder of this post addressing that topic.

The first thing you’ll want to consider when looking to save space is getting new golf bags. My husband and I downsized from our behemoth traditional staff/cart style bags to new feather-weight backpack styles (similar to these: Mine, His) and have never looked back. My empty bag weighs less than four pounds and is about half of the footprint as my old bag. All of my clubs and materials fit easily in the bag, and it has the added bonus of being able to be hung up on a strong, wooden hanger in my closet. (I bungee cord the straps together to make certain they don’t slip off the hanger.)

Another idea is to contact the course where you play most often and see if they have on-site storage lockers. You’ll have to shell out a little money per month, but it gets your bags out of your house and you don’t have to worry about transporting your bag from home to course should you decide to ride your bike. If you don’t play golf more than a few times a year, though, this suggestion won’t be practical for you.

In fact, if you only play golf two or three times a year, I suggest that you get rid of the clubs. Renting a set of clubs for the few times you do play will be less stressful in the long run. With the money you get from selling your clubs, you can pay for three or four rentals. Again, I’m only making this suggestion if you rarely play and are just holding onto the clubs because of a sunk-cost fallacy.

If you do play often, can’t rent space at your course, and don’t have space in your closets to hang your clubs, you may want to consider: A wall-mounted golf bag and shoe organizer (pictured above) or a freestanding wood bag organizer. The wall-mounted system could turn your golf bags into a piece of interesting art, and the standing organizer could at least provide a permanent home for your bags.

I hope one of these ideas is helpful. Good luck!


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

From the forums: best uncluttering ideas ever

I was recently browsing the Unclutterer forums when I found this gem of a thread: Your Best Decluttering Idea Ever. I went through and pulled a few great ideas submitted by Unclutterer readers. Take a look, and share your “best decluttering idea” in our Forum or in the comment section below.

Zora writes:

“Back when there were only cardboard jigsaw puzzles, I cut out the top of the box, to get the picture, and then put all the pieces in a sturdy plastic Ziploc bag. Matching labels on picture and bag. Instead of a stack of large, flimsy boxes, I had a jigsaw puzzle collection that fit into a drawer.”

Great idea! For more on storing puzzles and tabletop games, check out this post. If video games are more your thing, we’ve got you covered here.

Back on the forums, reader anitamojito writes:

“I set some limits with objects I have a weakness for, such as books…I am not buying another bookcase to accommodate my habit.”

It’s important to recognize that collections aren’t inherently bad. Once you’ve identified your gathering of like items a legitimate collection, you can get down to maintaining an enjoyable, vibrant and uncluttered collection.

Lastly, greymac writes:

“Well, for me my best ever (besides just getting started!) was to get rid of ALL of my unfinished projects. Some I trashed, some I gave away — like several of the needlework projects I was obviously NOT going to finish — and some I actually finished myself. I’m slowly getting better at limiting myself to only 3 or 4 projects at a time — and feel much more energy to attack my clutter than I felt when I had dozens of unfinished piles vying for my attention!”

Boy, this one hits home for me. For years, I lived with the clutter — physical and mental — of unfinished projects. Not only were the pieces lying around, the guilt I associated with each was constantly nagging at me.

The answer for me was to take a weekend, consider each one in turn and decide — honestly — if I was ever going to finish the project. If the answer was no, off it went.

Incidentally, a similar practice can help you with “app clutter” on your smartphone. Much like unfinished projects, long-neglected apps simply sit on your phone and do nothing. Here’s a good way to identify those you actually want and those you don’t.

  1. Move all of your apps off of the home screen. Yes, all of them.
  2. As you use an app over the course of a week, move it to back to the home screen. You can even devise an order to identify which you used most often.
  3. At the end of the week, give those that never made it back a good look. Do you really need it on your phone?

A big thanks to everyone who contributed to the forum discussions. If you’ve got a single, fantastic uncluttering idea, please share it below.

A double win: uncluttering and helping others

I recently saw a touching story about a previously homeless family that found housing but lacked any home furnishings — until a local charity helped them out. (Click the link to see the short video, including before and after photos.)

Eight-year-old Daerye Neely and mom Dionna Neely walked into their new home in Detroit to find a wonderful surprise – a furnished home decorated for free by charity Humble Design after the co-founders heard about the Neelys’ story of hardship.

Since I’m always looking for good places for people to donate the gently used items they no longer want or need, I wanted to know more — so I started investigating.

Humble Design is “a non-profit helping families transitioning out of homeless shelters by providing furnishings and design services. We turn their empty house into a clean, dignified, and welcoming home.” And given that mission, it takes a wide range of donations: furniture, rugs, artwork, linens, towels, books, toys (excluding stuffed animals), TVs, dish sets, silverware, mugs, and more. Pick-up services are available for large furniture items, although only in certain areas — and there’s a wait list.

I’ve written about furniture banks before, and many of these accept more than just furniture. For example, see the listing for the Furniture Bank serving greater Toronto, Canada. Furniture banks, working with partner agencies, provide a great service for “the previously homeless, unemployed and working poor, battered women and children in retreat, immigrants, individuals with mental or physical disabilities, victims of a fire, robbery, and natural disasters, etc.” And these items are provided at little or no cost.

Organizations like Humble Design don’t identify as furniture banks, but they seem to provide somewhat comparable services. Other charities that seem similar to Humble Design include:

All of these organizations have specific wish lists and standard donation guidelines. None of them want items with stains, odors, rips, or any other major wear. Linens and towels should be washed before donating.

If you have household furnishings to donate — especially furniture, which many organizations don’t handle — furniture banks and organizations like Humble Design are good to keep in mind.

Ask Unclutterer: Where can I donate stuffed animals?

Reader Darlene recently asked the following question in the comment section of the post What to do with those old toys:

I have bags of slightly used stuffed animals. I’ve found most places like hospitals and day care center don’t want them because of germ contamination. Where can I find a site that would welcome them? How about for the flood victims in Texas or hurricane victims in Florida or even … victims in California? Give me some ideas please.

Darlene, this is a common concern, so I’m very glad you asked the question. The following are a few suggestions that may help anyone with gently used stuffed animals looking for new homes.

Give them away directly to people who want them

I’ve successfully used my local freecycle group to give away stuffed animals. It doesn’t always work, but it sometimes does. Other similar possibilities are Facebook, Nextdoor, and the free section of Craigslist.

Give them to Goodwill or other thrift stores

While many thrift stores don’t accept donations of stuffed animals, a number of them do!

Each Goodwill chapter has its own policies regarding what it accepts — and some specify that they take stuffed animals, such as Goodwill of the Heartland in Iowa and Goodwill of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo Counties in California.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County in Oregon is another example of a charity that takes stuffed animals for its thrift stores. Again, each local organization will have its own policies, but you might find that yours will welcome your donation.

Note: These policies can change over time, so be sure to check before each donation.

Donate via SAFE: Stuffed Animals for Emergencies

SAFE is a 20-year-old non-profit organization that helps get gently used stuffed animals (as well as blankets, children’s clothes, and other items) to those who need them. You can donate through one of the chapters in Florida or South Carolina. Or you can send them to one of the urgent needs locations that SAFE has identified. Here’s just one of the places currently listed:

Edmund D. Edelman’s Children’s Court is the court that handles all the juvenile dependency cases in all of Los Angeles County. These cases usually deal with abuse and neglect issues. Annually they handle about 30,000 cases, and some of these cases require the children to speak. The courthouse has asked us if we could donate stuffed animals to help ease these children’s fears during a very stressful time in their lives.

SAFE also has good instructions for cleaning stuffed animals (PDF) before donating them.

Donate to police or fire departments

An 8-year-old girl in Colorado who had been in an auto accident donated her stuffed animal collection to the Denver police department to give to other children like herself. You could certainly ask if your local police or fire department would like your stuffed animals to hand out to children in similar traumatic circumstances.

Give them to animal shelters

As reader Monique mentioned in the comments, this is always an alternative to consider. And it will work for toys that have stains (even after washing) that would make them unsuitable for giving to children. Please check with the shelter you have in mind, as not all of them will want such donations. But some, such as Four Peaks Animal Rescue in Arizona, do include stuffed animals on their wish lists.

More little changes that make a big difference

In his post about simple living and labour-saving devices, Unclutterer PJ stated that technology in the service of simple living can help us save time. Unclutterer Jeri showed us that certain tools can help make organizing a little bit easier and how little changes in your home can make a big difference.

Here are a few changes we have made around our house that have helped us save time and effort.

We added wheels to a large, heavy computer cabinet. It took some effort to install the them but it was oh-so-effortless when we needed to move the cabinet to adjust the computer cables behind it, or to retrieve toy cars that had rolled underneath, or even just clean!

Our kitchen garbage pail is inside a cupboard so the dog cannot use it as a luncheon buffet. While it is now safe for the dog, it is a little inconvenient for humans. To solve this problem, I attached a small metal joining plate to the bottom of the cupboard door so that hangs down below the edge. I covered the end with Sugru so it wouldn’t be sharp. This allows me to open the door with my foot — instant hands-free access!


Most non-Canadians probably are not familiar with Robertson (square head) screws but I use them exclusively. Robertson screws, do not slip or strip. You can get maximum torque with even if your hands are not very strong (like mine). When I buy something like a curtain rod and the hardware is included, I’ll swap out the screws provided for Robertsons. As a bonus, Robertson screwdrivers are colour-coded — screw size is indicated by handle colour. No longer do I waste time rummaging through my toolbox trying to read worn writing on handles or examining tips to get the proper screwdriver. And because I only need to have one type of screw and screwdriver handy, I have an uncluttered toolbox.

Have you made any simple changes like these that have made your routine tasks easier? Share them with our readers in the comments.

Getting started with getting organized

If you want to unclutter your space and get organized, I recommend 30 Days to a Simpler Life, by Cris Evatt and Connie Cox. It’s chock full of tips and it will inspire you to get started simplifying. At times the book can be a bit too new-agey for my taste (for example, they recommend that you “say the names of things you see” to become “fully present,” and to eat with your left hand if you’re right-handed so that you eat more slowly and thus better savor your meal), but those parts can be easily overlooked if you don’t care for them. The rest is very good.

What I like about this book is that Evatt and Cox recognize that simplifying has two separate parts: first you unclutter, then you organize. If you just organize, all you’ll accomplish will be neatly stacking piles of garbage — rearranging the proverbial deck chairs on the Titanic, to be dramatic about it. Evatt and Cox propose a three-step method to eliminating clutter that makes so much sense that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. It certainly helped me pare down my cluttered spaces.

Three piles

The first thing you do is that you pick an area you want to unclutter. Don’t try to do too much at once; focus on what’s causing you the most stress. (Let’s say it’s your closet, but it could be your files, or your kitchen, or anything else.) Schedule ample time to dedicate to the task and go through every item in your cluttered space. Place each item into one of three piles: the “love and use” pile, the “recycle” pile, and the “ambivalence” pile.

  1. The “love and use” pile requires little thought because it’s for those things that you immediately know are essential to you and that you use a lot. A pair of jeans that you wear at least once a week would certainly go in there.
  2. The “recycle” pile should also be simple. It’s for those items you immediately know you should get rid of. You’ll ask yourself why you still have the thing. A big elbow-padded sweater from the 80s would be a good example. Anything you haven’t worn or used once in the past year should certainly go in there. It’s called a recycle pile because you can often donate these things or give them to a friend who might be able to use them. For me, however, it’s often just a “garbage” pile. If you don’t want it, what are the chances someone else will? And you won’t believe how satisfying and liberating it is to walk to the garbage chute with a big bag of stuff from your stress area knowing you’ll never have to worry about these things again.
  3. The last pile is the trickiest, but the key to the system. Into the “ambivalence” pile go things that you don’t love, that you don’t use very often, but that you can’t bring yourself for whatever reason to throw away. Many people never wear a particular garment but won’t get rid of it because it was a gift from a loved one. That goes in the ambivalence pile. You’re not going to throw away anything in this pile, so don’t be afraid to be generous with your ambivalence.

Practice living without it

The stuff in your “love and use” pile can go back into the closet or whatever other area you’re organizing. Of course, you’ll use good quality hangers and other thoughtful organizers, but those are posts for another day. The stuff in your “ambivalence” pile, however, you fold neatly and place into attractive storage boxes. Seal up those boxes, label them, and put them in an out of the way storage space where they won’t be clutter. If a month later you realize you want to use or wear one of the things you put away, you know where to find it; no need to worry. However, after six months, or a year, or whatever short period makes you comfortable, take the ambivalence boxes with everything that’s still left in them (which is very often everything you first put into them) and throw them down the chute. You won’t feel bad, I promise. The reason is that, as Evatt and Cox say, you have practiced living without these things and you’ve effectively already thrown them out in your head. Practicing living without things is a great way to transition from a cluttered to an uncluttered space. After a year or six months, if you haven’t used something, you likely never will.

Design systems

The last step is to design simple systems that will keep you from getting cluttered again. This is the part where, once you’ve uncluttered, you can begin to get (and stay) organized. Sharing many of these little systems is much of what I hope Unclutterer does.

When you’re done with these steps, and your ambivalence boxes are tucked away, you will find that your closet is now incredibly simplified. You won’t have such a hard time picking out what to wear because all your favorite things will be readily visible. And you won’t believe how much space you’ll have. The best feeling, though, is the feeling of lightness that comes from getting rid of stuff that just doesn’t belong in your life anymore, combined with the security that it’s all there if you really do need it again. So go nuts doing this with your drawers, your living room, and every other nook.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

Post-holiday cleanup, part 3

We linked to an article in Post-holiday cleanup, part 1, which described ways to dispose of a real Christmas tree. Storing an artificial tree, however, can be a task that worries even the most uncluttered of us.

In my home, we collapse the tree and keep it in its original packaging when not in use. If you didn’t hold onto your original box, or if it’s impossible to fit the tree back inside of it once it has been used, here are some storage alternatives:

  • Artificial Tree Storage Bag — With a reasonable price tag, this appears to be a cost effective option with the benefit of having a handle for transporting the tree in and out of storage.
  • Artificial Christmas Tree Box — This option is more expensive, but because it is flat you can stack things on top of the box the other 11 months out of the year
  • If you aren’t seeking something aesthetically pleasing, large leaf and lawn bags could work nicely.

Check out our other posts in this series:


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

Does this wardrobe suit me? Reviewing my closet

Last February, here on Unclutterer, Dave took at look at his closet and made some wardrobe suggestions for men over 40. In a few months, I’ll be one year away from 50. In the past two years, I’ve moved up in my day job and have become upper management. And in my personal life, I much prefer going out for a nice dinner or having friends over than going out clubbing until dawn.

All these things have meant a change in my dressing habits. However, I don’t feel almost 50 years old and most of my friends are younger than me so I have no interest in looking stereotypically middle aged.

In reviewing what I have, I’ve noticed that over the past few years I have actually been moving towards a more mature style. I have fewer t-shirts and more button-ups. None of my jeans have holes in them, I don’t do “skinny” anything, and my collection of dress trousers has more than doubled.

My shoe choices have also matured, fewer sneakers and more currently in-style brogues.

It’s good to know that I don’t need to make any major changes to my wardrobe choices. I do, however, need to pare down a bit. I have more than enough shirts for a whole month, the same with t-shirts and about half that number in trousers. My shoe collection has increased from my previous two or three to more than ten. Clothing is the one area of my life that I am most definitely not a minimalist.

On the positive side, I have a walk-in closet so I more or less have the space to store it all, but I have to ask myself if I honestly wear it all.

In doing so, I’ve taken Dave’s guidelines from last year as a baseline.

  • A suit — one that fits and looks good. Suits! I haven’t mentioned suits. I have several because I don’t believe that one is enough. If a woman had a single dress for any formal situation, people would be shocked, and yet we think it’s perfectly fine that men repeat the same suit consistently.
  • A nice hat. I have a few nice alpaca caps for winter and a baseball cap for the beach.
  • Decent lounge wear. I’m a pyjama guy. When I lived in Toronto with central heating, I was in the habit of sleeping in very little (or nothing). Without central heating now, however, I have several pairs of pyjamas which also serves as lounge wear. For yoga class, I have some baggy t-shirts and a pair of short sweatpants.
  • Dress shirts — somewhere between three and six of them depending on your lifestyle. This is where I need to cut back, but in looking at my closet, I realized that I actually wear more than 20 of my nearly 35 shirts.
  • Shoes. Have a brown pair and a black pair, something casual and something dressy. Sneakers are for kids. In this I also don’t agree with Dave. Stylish sneakers look good with a suit and I often combine my dress trousers with them as well. Besides, I have ankle tendon issues and, unless I want to look like a grandfather, dress shoes are not the best for my poor feet.
  • Pants — have at least one decent pair of jeans and a few pairs of casual pants in your regular rotation. Here is another category I could cut back. I don’t wear quite a few of my trousers, so will lighten my wardrobe by getting rid of them. I also need to seriously review my collection of shorts as most of them are too young for me.
  • Socks and accessories. My rule for these is that if they fit into a drawer, I don’t need to worry about them. I replace them as they wear out.

Being fashion-minded and working with teens and young adults, I also have a t-shirt collection, as well as stylish sweaters and a couple of sweatshirts. Looking at the teetering pile I have of those, these are three more categories I can also pare down on.

Although, to be honest, I doubt I’ll get rid of much. As I’ve already said, despite having a lot of clothes, I wear almost everything. I’m just going to have to find a better way of organizing it all and commit to regular maintenance of the piles.

How about you? How often do you review your wardrobe?

And of course, if you need help, there are any number of books that can help you with your wardrobe choices.

Post-holiday cleanup, part 1

Over the course of the next few days, we’re going to explore that sad time after the holidays when decorations and gifts must find a place to be stored or disposed. Putting away a menorah or Christmas tree or New Year’s party hat is never as much fun as bringing it out of storage or buying it. And, for a number of us, it’s cold and cloudy outside and the temptation to procrastinate the whole affair is pretty strong. Our couches and blankets call to us to sit for a while longer and relax while digesting all of those holiday meals.

I want to provide you with some links that you can peruse from the comfort of your couch. No need to be called to action just yet. Consider this “research.”

  • Here is some advice from our readers on handling holiday cards: What to do with holiday cards? Recycle!
  • Jan. 6 is the traditional day for taking down your tree, and here are tips on how to get rid of your real tree: How to dispose of a Christmas tree
  • Want to make space for all of your child’s new toys? Here is some advice on that subject.
  • Too much gift candy sitting around your home tempting you? Freeze it in small zip-top bags and bring it out in small portions over the next few months.
  • Want to regift an item but wonder if it’s horribly tacky? Read these rules for regifting.
  • Need to return or exchange an item because of damage or ill fitting size? Start by doing a Google search of the brand name and the phrase “how to return and exchange an item.” In some cases, you’ll need a gift receipt and tags, so be sure to know what you need before taking on the crowds in the stores.
  • Wondering what to do with leftovers from all of your holiday meals? Wonder no more! Stilltasty.com has the most helpful advice.
  • Need to replenish your home bar after all of your festive parties? Here’s a great list of essentials.

Check out our other posts in this series:


This post has been updated since its original publication in January 2008.