I often treat this time of year very similarly to spring, in the way of clearing out my home .
Over the year we tend to accumulate so much "Stuff", I don't know about anyone else, but half the time I don't even know how most of it got there, or who's
it is and if I ask the children,they both say "it's mine!" - Never very helpful!
There are a few really good reasons for a good de-clutter before Christmas,
*Making space for your Christmas decorations.
*Creating a stress free atmosphere, for you to relax in and enjoy your decorations.
*It makes cleaning much easier - and who doesn't want that?
Helps you re-evaluate what's important and what isn't.
You can decide what your children might want, or need for Christmas before you waste money on things they don't need! - Check out this year's top toys for children
For me, both my children have just had their birthdays.
My youngest has her birthday in October and my eldest has his birthday in November, That's exactly six weeks between each and then exactly 6 weeks until Christmas. So it is a really great time to have a sort out of all their toys.
They grow so fast and go in and out of the latest phases and trends. What they loved and were desperate for last November, is old news now.
More importantly, I think it's a fantastic opportunity to teach them about giving and donating those less fortunate than ourselves.
After their birthdays are over, we sort through all of their things into piles. They love being able to tip all of their worldly treasures onto the floor in the middle of the room without getting in trouble . I always chuckle, as they turn over the toy box and look at me out of the corner of their eye, as if to say "Are you sure about this mum? It's happening! I'm getting ready to tip!"
We have a really good rummage around for any lost treasures too. By emptying out everything it's amazing what you find at the bottom of the draws, or toy boxes and especially under the bed!
Old toys that they had forgotten about and they are delighted to find,
Hair bands are always a good find.
The odd favorite sock , , sometimes even money!
The odd lost pet, or Child! ;-O
They can decide what they want and what they don't - Within reason. You'll get the ones that refuse to part with stuff they haven't looked at in years, or the ones that are happy to give away everything they own. This part will take some careful negotiation and reasoning.
I say if it hasn't been out of the toy box in a year - get shot of it !
Remind them that some children don't get the privilege of having toys and presents for birthdays and Christmas and there may be other children with much less than we have, even nothing at all, who could really make use of what we don't want/need.
( Some say lecture ! - I say em-part great wisdom.)
They may roll their eyes,but it will still sink in and the information will resurface when you least expect it and you'll be super proud.
One day, it was raining extremely heavy and thunder and lightning, We were sitting around the table having dinner and my son, who was around 7 at the time, told us that he was really worried about all the homeless people, and asked what did they do in this weather. He then asked if he could invite them all round and we could make them soup!
( he does make really good soup)
My heart just melted at his compassion and concern for others and the less fortunate. And it's times like that when all the hard work you put into being a parent, pays off.
After you have carefully sifted through the children's 'keeps and chucks' , Do the same with your stuff too. There is probably half a wardrobe that could be used by someone who really needs it . All those picture frames that you have never put pictures in - do you even like it? If you don't, someone will.
If you do, for goodness sake put a picture in it !
,After all, if someone can make use of it, really, you are just holding the items hostage. They deserved to be freed .
Get into every nook and cranny. Places and things can be horded and forgotten about. Then hit the food cupboards. If you'e anything like me there will be those few items that you buy every time you go shopping, whether you have run out or not (tinned tomatoes and beans).
Or for months you keep picking up the same thing you think you have run out of until you have 400!
Have a good clear out of the things you are unlikely to use as well, after all, if you do need them you can always buy them again next time you go to the supermarket. We want to really make room for all those delicious festive delights, that are spilling from the
So take the lentils and butter beans that you are never going to eat to the food bank, for someone who could really do with it .
Also, while we're on the subject, most supermarkets will have a food donation trolley box, where you can purchase an extra non-perishable item or two and pop in the box for the food bank on the way out. It doesn't need to be a tin of their finest chocolates, a tin of beans or fruit for 50p, is fine.
Have a look online for your local Recycling Center - Click the link to find information. This website will not only give you destinations for places you can recycle, but information on how, and what you can to recycle,
It gives you ideas on how to re-use and repair.
Donating to charity's ,
Places to sell
Giving to reuse organisations and much, much more.
In fact, I hadn't realised how much information there was on the site itself, until researching for this blog. It is an absolute trove of information, with oodles of fantastic recycling information - probably all the information you'll ever need.
Free-cycle - This is a great place to get rid of any item, but in particular those items you are either not sure where you can take them to recycle, or (like me ) are too lazy, don't have the time to drop them somewhere, especially those larger items, like pieces of furniture, electrical appliances etc.
The beauty is, whoever wants it, will collect from you whenever it's convenient . All you need to do, is be there and you'll be surprised what you can get rid of.
I took up my patio in the summer and someone came to collect all the old slabs to use as hardcore for the base of their shed. Electrical leads, I made it very clear that I had no idea what they were for, or even if they worked, but if they are broken there will be someone who may use it .
Just make sure you are really clear on your add about the condition.
There have also been times when I, myself, have had at least 5 requests for them on the same day. even if this really needed items that i just couldn't afford. My washing machine broke. I was lucky enough to find one for free on the site all I had to do was collect.
I also Up-cycle items to sell. i'll skim through the posts for inspiration and collect an item
and give it a new lease of life to sell in the Forest Land Crafts shop .
Food banks - lots of local supermarkets have a donation box to either buy things as you shop to pop in, or you can have a look through your cupboards before you go, and drop your unwanted items in, before you start your grocery shop.
My children's school also, collect food and take it they take to the local food banks, which makes it really convenient to just pop them into the box on the school run . If you don't have children, then you could take them over to a neighbor that does. I'm sure they wont mind the extra load in the name of charity.
Your local churches, will also take donations . They will usually donate some to a local food bank, use some in a hamper to raise money for the church itself, and hold some to donate to a person they feel really needs it ( Once this person was me and I will tell you a little more about that further down the post )
It has so much information and ways to donate and information about how the food banks work and what they do . It's a perfect place for anyone looking to make food donations or in need of donations themselves. There aim is to end hunger and poverty in the UK - which in itself is a concept well worth backing .
Charity Shops . are always an obvious way to get rid of things. Most good towns have a large selection of charity shops, where you can take items to donate make sure the items are clean and in a sell able condition before you do so .
There are a number of different clothes collection companies that will collect your old clothes from you. Most of them will drop a bag through your door on a regular basis Which you can fill up and leave outside on your door step for collection. The collection day will be specified on the bag itself.
If its going to be a rainy night, be sure to double bag - I put the items in a bin liner tie it up and put it upside down in side the logo'd collection bag, so that the collector can see it clearly when collecting in your area .
Some also collect other items such as household items, toys , books, Handbags, jewelry and shoes etc, The list of what they will accept is usually printed on the bag or you could check their website before you fill.
I collect clothes is a website that has a list of different places that will collect from you and where you can choose a charity and arrange a collection date and time.
The British heart foundation allow you to order bags from their website and you can specify weather it is for home , work, and how many bags you might need
Anytime clothing supporting breast cancer will allow you to arrange times and dates for you to arrange a collection straight from your door .
The NSPCC will allow you to donate clothes, also items such as phones, ink cartridges EVEN YOU CAR !
You can download a free post sticker to send the smaller items ( probably not the car) , or arrange a collection for 3 or more bags of clothes
There is also Cancer Research
LMRUK - leukemia and myeloma
There are many many more so keep your eyes peeled for the bags coming through your letter box and for more information on the bags collections you can check out the information at the fundraising regulator to make sure you are giving to a worthy cause
and please don't forget if you are one of the ones that is in need of the giving as a posed to being in the position to give as I have been in the past. Use these links for your own benefit
.......... that being said. We aren't all in the position to be giving things away left right and center. Some of us really do need the help, just as much as the next person . Therefore you can do the same thing but instead of taking the items to charity or recycling centers you could try to use them to earn some extra cash
Find your local selling sites like :
Face book selling site
Car boot sale
This is where you get together with friends and family and bring your old items you no longer want and you swap clothes . you get a new wardrobe without spending any money what so ever
All those things that you are frightened to get rid of because you are grateful to have them in the first place but don't really need or use - or if you just feel like you are not in a position to be giving things away for free Because your own money is tight, if you do need it you would be unable to re buy it you could use these items to make yourself a few extra pennies for Christmas.
I have also learnt now to be really careful with the HOOVER !
My son had two big car tracks hardly used in fact you could tell by the amount of dust I
had to clear off them.
They had partly dismantled and needed to be put back together to sell, but as we tried to do so to get there were parts missing.
I remembered a good few pieces of random plastic I had chucked or sucked up just because I was annoyed at my son for leaving them on the floor
More fool me - so some advice from me to you. Pick up all those little bits even if you don't know what they are and store them in your miscellaneous draw or box - Everyone has one (I have one I the kitchen , one in the living room and one under my bed, full of nuts and bolts ,plugs and wires, batteries that in not sure are good or used, and teeny tiny screw drivers fro. Christmas crackers) and at this same time of year have a good root through to see if there is anything that can be fixed or sold.
I could have made a good few bob out of the car garages my son didn't play with but because they didn't have all the pieces I couldn't.
A few pound here or there can really make a difference this time of year.
Especially if your on a tight budget.
Sometimes charity starts at home and no one no one should be ashamed of that .
One year I was struggling so much, I was on the receiving end of the donations.
I was at messy church with the children making Christmas Crafts. I must have been having a winge about money, because when I got home I was greeted by two huge bags of food on our door step , with a note saying ' Love Santa' and to be honest we really needed it. I asked friends and family if they knew who it was but they didn't and It wasn't until a couple of years later i found out for sure it had been my local church donation group.
They must have snuck out to my house, while I was still at church.
Every year I still get that note out, and stick it to my pin board or Card tree, to remind me that Christmas is a time for giving, but it's also a time to remember that there really is some very descent people in this world.
After all of the sorting and de-cluttering , it's time to have a really good clean your decorations will look so much better in a nice clean and shiny space and you'll feel amazing when you get to sit amongst the twinkly lights and smell if fresh pine or scented Christmas candles .
Usually when your sorting it's customary to have a wipe rounds and bit of a clean anyway so the final spring clean shouldn't be too daunting.
To prepare for the Christmas decorations I try to clear as much space as possible , it sounds like a lot of work but it isn't really, not when your putting up the dec's anyway . It makes it easier to organise your space and create a bit of a blank canvas .
I take off all of the ornaments and some of the pictures, That way you can use the hooks for hanging dec's up . and it leaves you with the perfect blank canvas to turn your living room into Santa's grotto . or winter wonderland or whatever your desired Christmas style is .
The beauty of this, is that when it comes to taking the decorations down again and putting the everyday decor back, you will end up re evaluating weather you want to put them back or not, which will naturally lead to another mini sort out of its own , it's a great feeling to go into January knowing exactly what you have, exactly what you want and exactly what you might need to get, and starting fresh that year with
I love the feeling of knowing that my home is fresh and either clutter free and knowing everything in it has its place ... or trimmed down and ready for action . a great way to start the new year .
Also all of the information given in this post are charitable organisations that are there to help so if you are struggling yourself . get in touch with one of the organisations.