Now that the holidays have passed and you can take a deep breath, you're probably wondering where you're going to store all the great gifts you received. Will you be able to fit another set of towels in the linen closet? Where are the new snow boots for the whole family going to live in the off-season? And can the kids' play room take any more toys?

Before you stuff gifts into the far reaches of your closets and drawers, consider taking some time to clean out those storage spaces first. Decluttering allows you to figure out what you have, what you need and what you now have duplicates of. The process also allows you to upcycle, donate, fix and throw away things you no longer use so you can organize these spaces as well as save yourself some money and resources. Follow our tips for decluttering success.

  1. Tackle one closet or drawer at a time. If you decide to clean out the whole house or even a whole room, you might feel overwhelmed and never finish. Take small steps and you will feel a sense of accomplishment much faster that will carry you through the rest of the house.
  2.  Start with three designated boxes, bags or piles: one for keeping, one for giving away and one for throwing away. Keep things you use all the time or use every year. Give away items you haven't used for a year if they are in good shape and can still be used by someone else. Throw out items that are outdated or you can't repair.
  3. If your "keep" pile is much bigger than you want it to be, take another look at those items. When was the last time you used something? Did you even remember you owned it? Do you really like it or are you only keeping it because it was a gift from a loved one? Get rid of your guilt and get rid of the items you don’t want or use.
  4. Consider what to do with the "give away" pile. It's easy – and commendable – to box up everything and drop it off at a donation center. But there might be a better match for some of your possessions. For example, if you're cleaning out work clothing, donate it to a local Dress for Success affiliate that helps people in need find appropriate interview attire.
  5. Stop paper clutter before it starts by immediately deciding the fate of mail and papers brought home from work or school. Put junk mail and unwanted announcements directly into the recycling bin. File receipts and important papers the same day so they don't pile up and get lost.
  6. If you need more storage space, think outside the closet. Use covered baskets or coordinating bins as decorations as well as storage. These are particularly useful for kids to make it easier for them to put their toys away. Consider other areas where you can store rarely used items – the attic, garage or outdoor storage closet may be the perfect place for holiday decorations, off-season clothing and baby gear you're saving for the next child.
  7. Organizers, such as dividers and bins, are useful for two reasons. One, they keep drawers and closets neat so you can easily find your belongings. Two, when these organizers are overflowing and no longer serving their purpose, you know it's time to declutter again!

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