Holiday Clean Up: Clutter Cutting Ideas for Year's End

Send White Elephants On Their Way

When it comes to holiday giving, it's the thought that counts. But when those thoughts leave you scratching your head? Come up with a plan to wrangle the year's white elephant gifts: those "really, you shouldn't have!" gift items that have entered your home during the season.

Before they can become clutter in your New Year's home, try these strategies to sort out white elephant gifts:

  • Consign "regifting" candidates to the gift closet. Did the big, bountiful gift basket include a lovely cheese board, spreaders and dipping bowl--identical to the other three sets now living in your cabinets? Nosh on the snacks, but set the unneeded items aside in the gift closet. Next year, they'll be the start of a lovely gift basket when packed together with some good cheese and a box of specialty crackers.

    To prevent regifting faux pas, scribble a short note outlining who gave what for each new gift closet find. Hint: make a note on the original gift tag; it'll prevent you from regifting unneeded items in the wrong circle.

  • Hold an after-Christmas White Elephant exchange. Inviting friends for dinner on January 1st or hosting a Super Bowl party this year? Ask everyone to bring a wrapped white elephant for a post-Christmas gift exchange.

    You'll clear clutter and breathe new life into white elephant gifts. Who knows? Your white elephant may be someone else's favorite gift! Just be sure to avoid circulating gifts that have been given by your guests!

  • Stuck with unneeded books? Consider an online swap! Web sites like Paperback Swap and Book Mooch make it easy to turn trite titles into a welcome read--and cut clutter on household bookshelves!

Set Up A Toy Library

Families with young children can find bedrooms and storage spaces overflowing after Santa's passed through. Solution: set up a toy library to remove excess toys to a "loaner" status.

A toy library is a set of playthings that, while old and familar, still retain play value. Pushed out of the limelight by new Christmas toys, toy library items will seem new and exciting if they're given a rest for a few months, then brought out to liven up a rainy Spring afternoon.

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Look for good toy library candidates: construction sets, doll houses, blocks or playsets such as FisherPrice or Playskool brand products that have been pushed to the sidelines by the arrival of new Christmas toys.

Sort and organize smaller pieces, then store each toy library item in an attic or storage area.

Plastic garbage bags or lidded plastic storage containers make good homes for toy library items.

When checking out an item from the toy library, ask children to replace it with a different plaything. Rotating toys keeps clutter at bay, and enhances the value of children's playthings--proving that absence does make the heart grow fonder!

Take the challenge for a clean and organized new year!

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