Christmas clutter: Tips for enjoying a clutter-free holiday season

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 12 2012 5:25 p.m. MST

Ultimately, Berry says, it isn't about having a perfectly decorated home, but about just doing "good enough."

All I want for Christmas

With all the gifts being given, it is inevitable that some gifts will go unused. Berry has a mid-December tradition that helps offset the amount of stuff coming into a home.

Berry goes through the house with her children before Christmas and picks out toys they don't play with anymore, or clothes they no longer wear, and then donates the items to charity.

"With getting-getting-getting during the holidays, kids are watching television and every single commercial is telling them, 'You need this toy!' It is their mindset," Berry says. "We need to teach children what it is all about from the get-go."

Nuttin' for Christmas

Berry also recommends being specific with family members about what they want for Christmas.

"If you have that person in the family that is always buying you knick-knacks, you just need to be honest," Berry says. "Tell them, 'You know what, we are trying to cut down this year,' or 'I'm running out of room in the house' or 'I'm trying to simplify.' You don't need to say, 'I really can't stand your knick-knacks.'"

Roberts at Baylor University tells his wife, "I don't want anything, I don't need anything."

But she tells him, "If you don't get something, you will be disappointed at Christmas."

This happens in many families, he says. People won't believe people do not want anything.

Ewer says even if people get a gift they do not want, they need to be kind.

"Squeal over the purple Snuggie," she says. "Wear the ugly sweater, at least once, so your mother-in-law can see it. … Make sure that the relationship is honored, before you deal with the items themselves."

Smith with White Space is blunt about what to do next. She says people have to disassociate the person they love from the gift that person gave.

"If you don't like the gift," Smith says, "don't keep it in your house at all."

But what if the gift is a piece of art they expect to see on a wall or a necklace they expect the recipient to wear?

"You don't have to tell them that you threw it away or that you hate the gift," Smith says. "If they bring it up you say, 'Thank you so much for that necklace. Your friendship means a lot to me.' And just leave it at that. … You just reconfirm to them that you appreciate the gift and you appreciate them as a person."

You're all I want

If there is a danger of receiving gifts that later become clutter for Christmas, there is also the danger of giving those types of gifts.

Smith says giving small gifts is best. If the person keeps a small gift, such as earrings, it won't have as much clutter impact. She also says to write a really nice card to go with the gift.

Roberts takes it a step further and suggests handwriting a gratitude letter as a gift. "Say, 'This is the role you played in my life,'" he says. "'This is what you did for me.' Read that type of letter to someone and there won't be a dry eye in the house and it will be a present they will remember forever."

All the organization experts agree that experience gifts such as tickets to a play or taking a child to a sporting event are the best gifts not only for beating clutter, but for building relationships.

"The holidays are for being thankful that we've been given so much, that we can share with other people, that we can spend time with the people who mean the most for us, and we can really appreciate all the good things that life has to offer," Roberts says. "Bonding and spending time with our family is at the core of people's happiness."

Related story: Happiness presents: Gifts that give lasting positive feelings

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote

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