Holiday organizing and decluttering

By Martha Tobin


With so many holiday decor and decoration items available at this time of year, it’s hard not to buy a few more for your tree, tabletop, front door or yard.

Often in our excitement for that new holiday item, we forget that we already had a similar one, or we realize that we now have so much décor that we have run out of room to display it all.

Here are a few tips and tricks that might help you to declutter and organize your holiday decorations this year.

Unpack first and buy second

  • Wait until you have unpacked your current holiday decor and decorations so that you have a better idea of the categories and the volume of each category (lights, ornaments, tabletop items, outdoor decor, etc).
  • By seeing the types of items you have and how many in each category, you can then pare them down based on the display space you have available.
  • For any excess items, you can donate them and add them to someone else’s holiday season.

What truly brings you joy?

  • Over the years, you’ve probably amassed lots of holiday decorations and decor. Some of these items may no longer bring you joy (i.e., ornament from an old boyfriend). Perhaps some of the items are outdated. Or you may realize that you have too many of a certain category (i.e., all your adult daughter’s grade-school, popsicle-stick ornaments).
  • For sentimental items that you no longer want, check with your children, other family members or friends to see if they’d like them. If they do, you can create a labelled box of these items and include a dated note with a bit of the history that surrounds these items, especially if they are a family heirloom.
  • Keep your treasures and those you have an emotional tie to, but consider taking a photo of the other less meaningful items so you can keep the memory but let the item go.

Check functionality

  • Determine which items work (i.e., electrical, musical). Take the time to repair those that you want to keep and let go of those that cannot be repaired.
  • You can check the City of Ottawa Waste Explorer site to find out how to dispose of these items.

Rotate decor each year

  • If you have excess decor and decorations, you may want to consider rotating your decor each year (i.e., one year silver décor, the following year red).
  • If you find that you are often passing over certain items each year instead of displaying them, donate them or gift them to someone else.

Pack up your decor and decorations for next year

  • Use clear bins and store like with like. Label each bin (i.e., lights, tree decor, table décor). Labelled, clear bins make it easier to see what you have and access the items more readily.

As wonderful as the holiday season is, the reality is that we live in a time of tremendous consumerism due to products being easily manufactured, marketed and sold on an enormous scale (and delivered to your door the next day). We also live in a world where our planet is suffering from excess. So determine what you have before you buy, and then donate, gift or responsibly discard those items that are no longer meaningful to you. By doing so, you can add to the health of our planet, keep items out of landfills and help others less fortunate who will no doubt have a better holiday this season because of you. And isn’t that the true spirit of the holiday season?


Martha Tobin is the owner of Glebe business Declutter4Good – Organizing and Decluttering (

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