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A Clutter-free 2012

The gifts are unwrapped and the holiday lights are off, so now what? Time to get organized! Many people resolve to exercise and diet, but the beginning of a new year is also a good time to purge those clothes you haven’t worn since college and organize the clutter that’s been collecting in your basement.

Some organizing experts suggest getting rid of one item for every new holiday gift received, as a way to neutralize the incoming stuff. It’s a good time to consider donating items to charitable organizations that normally get a flood of new things before the holidays but that are still in need of basics after the last ornament has been plucked off the tree or the last candle in the menorah has been blown out. People are in need all year long, so your old coats, toys, canned food and household items are welcome after the holidays.

Items that can’t be reused can usually be recycled, including the cardboard boxes in which your holiday gifts were shipped, the batteries that you replaced in your kids’ toys and the household appliances that are being swapped out for new ones. Even your Christmas tree can find new life as mulch. Many municipal recycling programs pick up trees at the curb and recycle them.

The new year also presents a good time to get the holiday decorations in order. Organizing ornaments and lights and labeling them helps prevent you from buying new decorations you don’t need the following year. Keeping perfectly nice gift bags, bows and ribbons also prevents you from having to buy new ones next year and keeps those items out of landfills. And don’t be afraid to re-gift – if you got something you just don’t need but don’t want to donate it, hold onto it for next year’s Secret Santa swap at the office or give it to a friend or relative that you know would like it.

What about all those holiday cards that have been piling up? Hold onto a few from close friends and family, especially the ones containing photos, and recycle the rest.

This is a good time to teach children to be generous to others. Now that they’ve gotten so many gifts, tell them that they are fortunate to have received presents and that there are a lot of kids who did not and encourage them to pick out some old toys that are safe and in good condition to donate to another child. There’s no reason the season of giving has to end after Christmas.

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    • John C.

      That’s great advice! A regular clean-up of the children’s playroom does help with the clutter.