After the whirlwind of the holidays, does your home look like a disaster zone? With decorations scattered about, new gifts without a home yet and things disheveled from parties and gatherings, you may feel like everything is a little out of control.
Good news: The quieter time after the holiday season is the ideal opportunity to get everything in order. From weeding out forgotten items in your closets to editing down the contents of your refrigerator, use this time to set everything straight — and set yourself up for success in the coming months. Read on for our five-step checklist — based on decades of advice from our expert agents — that will make it easier than ever to declutter your home.
Edit down as you pack up
It can be tempting to box up all your holiday décor and put it all away — especially if cherished keepsakes are involved. But the future you will thank the current you if you whittle things down. Instead of filling storage bins and shopping bags and stowing everything for next year, thoughtfully filter through everything as you put things away. Discard any broken ornaments and burned-out strands of lights. Ditto any outdated or damaged décor that is past its best. Toss or recycle older holiday cards that you haven’t looked at in years, and recycle any wrapping or ribbon that you know you’ll never use. When you pull out everything next year, you’ll have already set yourself up for success from the start, by keeping things streamlined.
Return or exchange gifts now
Unfortunately, not every holiday gift is a winner. Instead of letting unwanted gifts sit around for months and missing the return window, spring into action early. Look through all your gifts and decide what needs to be mailed back, now. Print any return labels you can, pack the gifts up in boxes or padded envelopes, and mail back as many as possible, to get them out the door quickly.
For gifts that must go back to a store, organize them by location so you can return as many as possible at one time. Put them in reusable shopping bags and keep the gift receipts and other necessary documentation handy, so you have it ready as soon as you walk up to the register. This way, you won’t be tempted to let these gifts sit around for weeks or months, too.
Refresh the refrigerator and pantry
Once your holiday decor is edited, recycled or put away, it’s time to tackle decluttering the rest of your home. Start with the often-overlooked areas. One big one? Your kitchen — especially your refrigerator and pantry. Between having kids home, having family visiting and hosting parties and get-togethers, these spots may have become a dumping ground for forgotten leftovers and half-eaten meals or snacks.
Start by taking everything out of your refrigerator and setting it on the counters. Check sell-by dates and toss anything that has expired. Before putting anything back in the refrigerator, wipe down the shelves and drawers with a nontoxic cleaner, and line the produce bins with paper towels. Then, wipe down all the jars and bottles and place them back in the refrigerator. After that, do the same in your pantry. This way, you can start the new year afresh, knowing that everything you have on hand is organized and ready to be enjoyed.
Clean out every closet
During the holidays, you may have received an influx of toys, clothing and other wonderful gifts. (Lucky you!) Now, instead of piling new things on top of old things, look at this as an opportunity to sort through everything and keep things organized. It’s a big — but worth-it — task: Empty out all of your closets and sort through all of your belongings. Create four piles: keep, donate, recycle, toss. Put everything into its respective pile — and follow through. You’ll feel great. Plus, donating and recycling anything that is no longer used will free up space for all your new things.
Do a deep clean
Once everything is organized and put away, this is also the perfect opportunity to do a deep clean of your entire home, especially oft-neglected areas. Clean the kitchen counters and cabinets, wipe down all your baseboards, scrub those bathtubs and mop those floors.
The bottom line: Instead of living in a disorganized — or even chaotic — home, following these steps will help you get everything in order and start the new year on the right foot. (Agent tip: If you’re feeling daunted by decluttering your home on your own, hire professional organizers and services who can tackle these checklists for you.)
And, if you’re looking for an even bigger change for the new year, consider selling your home and buying your next one. Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty can help you with both — whether you’re looking for more living space, more room for your growing family or you want to try a new neighborhood. Our expert agents can help make it happen. Reach out today to get started.
Briggs Freeman Blog – Holidays 101: Nine new ways to change up your holiday and seasonal décor
Briggs Freeman Blog – Market madness: Is this really the best time to sell your home?
Washington Post – How to clean your refrigerator and keep it that way
Next Level Wardrobe – The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Out Your Closet