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How To Declutter Your Christmas Decorations Without Getting Lost In Sentiment Or Guilt

By October 2, 2022Control Clutter

Decluttering Christmas decorations can truly difficult. Some decorations were probably gifted, some made by your children, and still others may represent a vacation you took. Having said this, most of your Christmas decorations are probably connected to a memory in some way. When you go to pull out these decorations instead of seeing them as they are we almost always view them through rose-colored lenses. We look past the flaws of their age and see them in the light of the memory they bring to the surface. It is a challenging task to declutter your Christmas decorations without traveling down memory lane or thinking about the person who gave you some of the décor.

Here are some tips to declutter your Christmas ornaments

Make some rules to follow

One of my rules is that if it is broken or falling apart, I will let it go

Last year I finally tossed (Yes. I said tossed) an ornament my son made for me. He was in second grade at the Singapore American School. This ornament was made on the lid of a plastic container and had his picture wearing a Santa hat on it. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. It was adorable when he first gave it to me several decades ago but now it is falling apart. Time to let it go and my rule gave me permission.

I also put the tree topper in the trash and gave myself an assignment to find another special something to put on the top of my tree. The one I let go had been the one my mother used for as long as I can remember. Letting this angel go was truly difficult. She was broken. Her wings had come off several years ago. Now her skirt was ripped, and she was not looking at all beautiful.

Did I feel guilty? Yes! This angel brought back memories of my father placing her on top of our tree. I know, though, that if my parents were alive neither one would think twice about tossing this decoration because it was no longer in good shape. That thought brought me right back into the present and the angel into the trash.

Another rule I follow is that if I don’t love the decoration, and it is in good shape, I will donate it to GoodWill

When I was teaching school, my students often gave me Christmas decorations as gifts. I always used the ones they made me – at least for one season. The parents sometimes bought an ornament or other décor as a gift. If it didn’t fit in with my other decorations or if I didn’t love it, I gave it away.

Make your own rules to declutter your Christmas decorations, write them down, and then follow them. If you have trouble following your rules by yourself, my next tip may help you.

Ask a trusted friend for help

Only ask a friend who will tell you what they truly think, not what they think you want to hear. Share your rules with your friend. Then as you pull out your decorations and begin the decluttering process have your friend help you make decisions.

Think about your decorations. Do they fit your current lifestyle? Have you moved recently? Maybe your Christmas decorations looked great in your other home and not so great in this home.

Are you feeling guilty because the decorations are expensive to replace?

Maybe you can sell them. Now is the time of year when people are looking for and buying holiday decorations. Ask your friend’s opinion. Perhaps you can recoup some of your cost.

Another question to answer is how much does it cost you to keep something you don’t like and will not be using?

Decorations take up space. Do you have lots of storage space? Then it’s not a problem. If one of the reasons you want to declutter your Christmas decorations is to consolidate them and save space, then go ahead and sell or donate the ones you no longer want.

What is your reason to declutter your Christmas decorations?

Perhaps the most important thing to consider as you begin to declutter your Christmas decorations is your reason.

Why do you want to do this? Answer this question. Be confident in your response. When you are comfortable with your reason for taking on this task it is not as challenging. Sure, your rose-colored glasses may get in the way from time to time. If they do, sit in the memory, and then make your decision to keep the decoration or let it go. If you decide to keep a decoration that you have trouble letting go you can always revisit this decision next year as you decorate for Christmas.

The virtual clutter support group, Clear Space for You, I run with Jonda Beattie is a wonderful accountability partner. If you want to declutter your Christmas decorations by yourself and would also like some accountability, we are available. New groups start at the beginning of each month.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.

13 Comments

  • Seana+Turner says:

    This is just the perfect time to go through exercise. The charities are happy to receive decorations at this time of year, and they could be such a blessing to those who are looking for some options at a decent price.

    Like anyone, I have some decorations to which I am sentimentally connected, but which I don’t put out. I’ll have to rethink those after reading this. I guess I have a couple I’ve been saving because I’ve thought that grandchildren might like them. But that doesn’t seem to be on the horizon any time soon, so I need to consider if I should just let them go so children can enjoy them right now.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      It’s a tough one, Seana. I’ve discovered that my children don’t want the ornaments I saved for them. My granddaughter is really into decorations right now and wants to start collecting her own. You may find the same thing.

  • We don’t celebrate Christmas, but I have helped many clients go through the editing and organizing process for theirs. I love all of the boundaries and rules you established in advance of sorting. While I understand how challenging it must have been to let go of some of your beloved ornaments, I saw how you allowed those rules to guide you as you made decisions.

    Decorating for the holidays can be a huge undertaking. So pairing things down to ornaments that are loved, hold good memories, and are in good shape can make the process so much smoother. And then when it’s time to put the decorations away, there will be less to do and less to store. A win win all around.

  • I’m like you; if it is broken or falling apart, get rid of it. Recently, I went through my ornaments and purchased better ornament boxes to hold them. This motivated me to limit the number of ornaments.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      That’s a great strategy Sabrina. When the container is full of the ones you love, it’s easier to let the ones go that you’re on the fence about.

  • Sara Skillen says:

    I can totally relate to the ornament gifts from students – I had a huge pile of them, most with “Miss Smith” engraved on them somewhere! With apologies to lovely people I taught (who are in their, gulp, early 40s now??), I made the decision a couple of years ago to donate them. It was lovely to receive them, but they never made the cut when I was decorating. This is a thoughtful post that will likely help a lot of us this holiday season!

  • Laura says:

    I am trying to make it a point to do this going forward as every holiday comes and goes. My sister tosses EVERYTHING so I seem to accumulate all of the family “treasures” which makes it so hard to let go of some of them…but I am getting better. Love hearing that it really is okay to let some of the things go. 🙂

  • Julie Stobbe says:

    This is too early for me to talk about Christmas. Having said that I encourage my clients to decorate a little earlier than they are used to so they can go through their decorations and donate them in time for other people to purchase them. When possible I encourage them to declutter when they are decorating instead of another time of the year. It seems like a lot of work to take them out and put them back in the spring or summer. I like the rules you talked about, they are very helpful in making decisions. Sometimes setting a percentage they will give away also helps. Reduce by 25% so 1/4 of the decorations are tossed or donated.

  • Very timely posting. I love that you ask us to bring it back to the present and move forward from there.

  • Julie Bestry says:

    I don’t celebrate Christmas, so it was not until after I became a professional organizer that I ever realized the volume of decorations that people collect over the decades of their lives. You have laid out an excellent set of rubrics for determining what stays, and what moves on.