Soon, the holidays will be upon us. And you’re afraid — and rightfully so — of how the limited amount of space you have in your home now will soon be almost entirely taken over by Christmas trees and decorations and cookie tins and gifts, gifts and more gifts (plus the wrapping paper, ribbon, boxes and bows, of course).
No one wants to get all Scroogey, but the truth is, if you’re a working parent, you’re already stretched pretty thin, and the odds of your S.O. pitching in to make some fudge, wrap a few presents or deck the halls in any way is small. More likely they will venture out just when you’re desperately trying to complete the last of your monumental tasks — on Christmas Eve — to do some shopping. Their carefully chosen gifts (clearly bought at Rite Aid, where they could find parking), will be presented in their traditional plastic bags, with tags still on.
Whereas on the one hand, you will once again think this thoughtless and rude, on the other hand, you’ll be thankful, because the tag will help you identify the store you’ll have to go to return the stuffed penguin wearing a Santa hat and clutching a sample-size bottle of cheap perfume.
If you’re going to get through the season sane, you’ve gotta be ready. Yes, that means keeping plenty of eggnog on hand and remembering you can only change yourself, but it also means purging your home of old, unneeded items, so that you will have room for new, unneeded items.
Clean out your front entryway. This probably includes a coat closet and a place to store hats, mittens, umbrellas and boots. Other items frequently abandoned here are anything anyone brings in the door and doesn’t feel like putting away. This includes sports equipment, mail, shopping bags, extra shoes and perhaps toys, a stroller or a diaper bag.
Allow everyone to keep two coats and two pairs of shoes or boots that are in season and that fit. Everything else goes to charity or in the owners’ own closets.
Go through your clothes. Get rid of anything that you don’t like, that doesn’t fit or that you just don’t wear. Even if you don’t receive a gift of clothing that you want to keep and store this holiday season, you will have made more space for the items that are important to you.
Beware of storage hints, like keeping your possessions under the bed or couch. Or making a table out of a stack of books up covered up with a piece of wood and a swath of fabric. This isn’t Tiny House Nation. These “clever” hints will only feed your addiction. It’s like suggesting you store bottles of vodka in your underwear drawer to save space on the kitchen counter.
Pare down on things you don’t need. This means books, magazines and newspapers you don’t have time to read; knickknacks, pillows and other decorative items that just collect dust; CDs you don’t listen to and movies you don’t watch — you get the picture.
And don’t save any of this stuff just because so-and-so bought it for you. These items pile up and serve only as a monkey on your back that grows every year with each new useless gift.
In fact, if this is a recurring problem in your life, vow to keep a tote somewhere in the house and put your unwanted gifts directly into it, skipping the step of carrying out the charade of intending to use them one day.
- The blouse from your mom that’s two sizes too small because she wanted you to have a goal to work toward? Right in the box.
- The sexy nightie from your S.O. who put it on your credit card because he’s always a little short? Right in the box.
- The cookbook and bread maker from your mother-in-law who makes a puzzled face whenever your kids talk about Totino’s Pizza Rolls as if she has never heard of this diet staple? Right in the box.
- The cheap necklace and earrings from your boss who wouldn’t even give you 25 bucks for Christmas, never mind a week’s pay? Right in the box.
- The framed photo of your niece and nephew that your sister-in-law sends every year as if she can imagine no greater gift than a daily reminder of how smart and beautiful her kids are? That doesn’t go in the box — just toss the photo and use the frame for something you like, like when one of your kids gets a perfect attendance award.
Face it — people are just not going to give you what you want. But that’s OK. Buy something nice for yourself. A cashmere sweater in your size. Diamond earrings. Really good chocolate. A Louis Vuitton bag. A pair of thigh-high Jimmy Choos.
Make room for these things now, then thank yourself heartily later.