Friday 24 November 2017

7 Tips for Avoiding Christmas Clutter

Who’s excited for Christmas??

If you’re simultaneously feeling delighted and mildly terrified that the festive season is upon us again, then you are not alone.

Whilst Christmas is magical, fun and a well-earned break, it can also turn into overflowing toy boxes, freezers stuffed with more food than you can possibly eat in a few weeks of festivities, and one or two stressed out parents.

If this sounds a bit like you at the moment, then well done for coming to this post and planning ahead! You have already earned yourself a mince pie and a mug of mulled wine.
Check out our seven tips to avoid clutter this year, get your prep done nice and early and then relax! As far as it is possible to relax when the kids are up from 5am on Christmas morning asking if Santa’s been yet, that is …

1. Make a Food Plan
Depending on how much of a planner you are, this task is either joyful or the worst. But it really is essential, whether you are cooking for 3 or 13 on the big day.

Even if you aren’t doing a Christmas meal, then make sure you have the essentials. It’s easy to forget the everyday things when you have so much on your mind! Shops will have reduced opening hours, but don’t be tempted to stock up too much for this reason, either. Work out what you need each day and buy accordingly.

If you are making a ‘big’ meal, such as Christmas or New Year’s Day Lunch, then plan that list separately and figure out when you can start cooking and freezing things. Christmas cakes, cranberry sauce, even roast potatoes, Yorkshire Puddings and Mince Pies can all be made earlier in the month and frozen.

You can find lots of guides online for Christmas cooking plans, or make your own if you are a confident cook. And remember - there’s always plenty of leftovers!

2. Make a Gifts List
I have lost count of the number of times I have done the following:
  • Found a really cute present for someone quite early in the year, bought it and put it somewhere safe for Christmas.
  • Started Christmas shopping. Bought more presents.
  • Discovered I have two presents for some people, and none for others.

Now, there’s no problem with generosity, but you do need to find somewhere to keep all these things before they can be placed beneath the tree.

If you can, get a lovely notebook and note down all your christmas things. Use the same one for your food plan and anything else you need to make notes about. You will be glad of it when you’re sitting wrapping things and wondering who on earth you bought that candle for??

3. Think about Storage Before You Buy
This is an essential for everything - not just presents. Do you know where you can keep the giant, animatronic reindeer you’re considering?

It’s great to have a place in mind for gifts. If your kids are anything like my siblings, then they will be spending most of December on a high-security mission to figure out where you’ve hidden them.

The quicker you can put them away, unnoticed, the better!

If you’re buying more decorations, do you have space to store them the rest of the year? Are your cupboards already full and you haven’t even stocked up on Christmas Puddings yet? Which leads us to ...

4. Try and Clear-Out Before Christmas
Now - we know that clearing out is the last thing you want to do at the best of times, let alone before Christmas when you have so many other things to do!

However, if you can carve a little bit of time out to go through your cupboards and wardrobes before you start buying things, then it can really minimise stress later in the month.

If you know that the grandparents and aunties are buying pyjamas for the little ones, then start looking at them now - which ones are a little bit too stretched to be worth keeping?

Christmas things often have a very long use-by date, so double check the kitchen for puddings, mincemeat and alcohol unused from the year before.

If the kids have toys that they aren’t using much, or have grown out of, then it could be a great chance to chat about Christmas spirit with them. If they’re suddenly clinging to that toy that has been gathering dust for a few years, why don’t you suggest taking them to a charity shop so they can be a gift for another lucky child that year?

This doesn’t always work - if you’re fairly sure it will cause unnecessary upset then don’t do this until after Christmas when the shiny new toys are there - the point of this is to make your life easier, not harder!

If your kids are old enough to get involved in the decision-making, however, it can be a really good way to get them to understand that Santa’s bank account isn’t actually limitless, and how to think about giving back at Christmas.

5. Do Presents in Stages
We have a rule in my house - presents from Santa can be opened before breakfast, but everything else under the tree waits until after lunch.

It helps because it means you can keep up with writing a list of who has received what from whom, and you don’t have quite such an enormous pile of abandoned wrapping paper to deal with at any one time!

I also love Elizabeth’s tradition of a Christmas Eve box. You can read about her example from a few years ago here.

6. Organise the Christmas Decorations as You Go
One of my least favourite Christmas-related tasks is tidying away the decorations in the new year. No matter how ready you are to start fresh, it always feels just a little sad and nostalgic!

Therefore, I try to make it as easy for myself as possible. Keep the box for your artificial christmas tree, carefully wrap lights and consider investing in some plastic boxes to keep everything safe and tidy.

If you are getting boxes, make sure you get transparent plastic. So much easier to see at a glance what is there, without feeling the need to label every side!

How can I clear everything out when I just had family visit our place in Guildford? It is especially hard to clean up the joint hardwork of the kids in the family. Even with a broken bauble or two, this part is always bittersweet.

However, I cannot stay in memory lane for long. I try to make it as easy for myself as possible. Keep the box for your artificial Christmas tree, carefully wrap lights and consider investing in some plastic boxes to keep everything safe and tidy. 

Since Christmas decorations only pop up once a year, it is best to keep this in your self storage in Guildford instead of leaving it in the attic or basement. As the kids grow up, your in-house storage should be devoted to items they might need like costumes and books. Your decorations and other knick-knacks take up more space, so into storage, they go. 

7. (Bribe) Encourage the Kids/Family to Help Out!
It’s always easier to get help with the fun things like putting up decorations, funnily enough! Then, when you need someone to help do the dinner dishes, they all mysteriously disappear.

All the prep in the world won’t guarantee a stress-free Christmas, so don’t feel guilty if you start to get overwhelmed. The sheer number of things to think about at Christmas is enough to make you want to retire into a remote igloo for a few months, no matter how much you love it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and make it clear that this is your Christmas too! We all know that it’s the kids on the nice list who get the best presents, and if that makes the difference between a sulky child helping out, and one being excited about the fact that they are helping out … then more power to you!

Hand out those dish-clothes and get everyone on the declutter-as-you-go mission this Christmas.

Have a wonderful festive season, and leave a comment to let us know which of these tips you’ll be using this year!

This post was written by Sara at Storage Vault (, a Scottish self-storage company passionate about helping you keep organised!

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