I’m so excited December is finally here! This month I invite you to join me in 25 days of giving, the advent way to declutter. Being a blessing to others is one of the best reasons to clear out things that have accumulated over time. By focusing on one small category at a time, you can give purposefully to many different causes. There is so much good information in this article that I had to break it into 2 parts. Part 1 will focus on weeks 1 and 2. To check out part 2 for weeks 3 and 4, follow the link here. My goal is to inspire generosity and simplicity through Advent Decluttering this holiday season. Please help me get the word out by sharing this article.
Welcome to weeks 1 and 2 of 25 Days of Giving! If you like, you can do the daily challenges in order, or if you are like me, do them knock out style each week. During week 1 we will be decluttering our Halloween Candy, our Christmas Decor, our Stationery and Christmas Cards, Wrapping Paper, our Sock Drawer, and our Coats, Hats, Gloves, and Scarves. During week 2 we will be decluttering Clothing, Shoes & Accessories, Beauty Products, Old Cell Phones & Chargers, Baby Items, Travel Shampoo & Soaps, and Toys. Feel free to comment with any questions, or just to share how you are doing. I look forward to seeing your responses!
Here is the master list for weeks 1 and 2. Below the list I will be providing in depth information and links regarding where to donate items besides Goodwill. Goodwill is okay for its convenience and ease of donating, but there are many other people and causes that could really use the items listed below.
Day 1- Halloween Candy
Day 2- Christmas Décor
Day 3- Stationery & Christmas Cards
Day 4- Wrapping Paper
Day 5- Sock Drawer
Day 6- Coats
Day 7- Hats, Gloves & Accessories
Day 8- Clothing
Day 9- Shoes & Accessories
Day 10- Beauty Products
Day 11- Baby Items
Day 12- Travel Shampoo & Soaps
Day 13- Toys
Day 14- Old Cell Phones & Chargers
Day 1, Halloween Candy
If you have any Halloween Candy left, you are like me, not a serious candy eater, perhaps more of an occasional partaker, or maybe you have eaten all of the really good candy and what remains is candy that is not your favorite. Either way, gather it up and give it away! There are many ways to do this ranging from finding a neighbor kid to finding a way to donate candy to soldiers overseas. Either way, you will be brightening someone else’s day and clearing some space from your counter or pantry. Win-Win!
Here is a quick link for help on where to donate:
Day 2 Holiday Décor
Changing out holiday decor is a great time to minimize clutter. If you’re like most people, you have more tchotchkes than you need to decorate with. For years I told myself I “needed” to keep these extra items because they are family heirlooms, or because someone gave them to me, or because I would rotate which decor I used each year. The fact is, all that extra stuff takes up space, time, and energy for you to go through each year. This year, be honest with yourself on what you actually love. If you come across items that are broken, worn, or outdated, either toss them or give yourself a deadline to fix them (2 days). If the items are nice, but not things you love, let go of the guilt associated with the item (the reason you’ve been keeping it for so long), and donate it. Where should you take it? There are several places to donate Christmas decorations besides a thrift shop (although that is the easiest choice). Other options include asking teachers if they would like any decorations for their classrooms, or aspiring photographers for photoshoots, or calling up nursing homes to see if they would want any. (Yes, the items should be in perfect condition for these options). You could also post on facebook or freecycle groups online. Next year you will have less items to go through, less to take down, and more time to spend with loved ones. Win-Win!
Day 3, Christmas cards and other stationery
When filling out your Christmas cards this year, you might have some extras. If you’re like me, you probably also have some extras from last year and the year before too. A great way to use up those old cards is by sending them to the troops. A few years ago my church had a service project that sent Christmas cards to the troops. Looking online, there are tons of different resources for this, including your local Red Cross. I was so inspired by this that I often buy extra cards to send to the troops (Dollar Tree often has 25/50 cards for $1).
Another tip: I save the Christmas cards I receive for 1 year because A) I feel bad just throwing them away when the season is over and I like to make sure I send the giver a Christmas card the next year (I don’t have a master list for this yet, I probably should). Also, its fun to reminisce at the beginning of the season instead of waiting for new cards to roll in. After I look at them, I save any with family pictures, but the rest can be donated to St. Judes to make new Christmas cards from, or they can be used for some fun holiday crafts like the ones linked below.
Day 4, 4 random items for a Decluttering Gift Exchange Game
I am so excited about this game!! It’s kind of a spin on a white elephant gift. Here’s how to play:
1) Find 4 random items around your house that other people might like. The catch is that because this is online with people who you may not know, the items should be small enough to fit in an envelope. (Great ideas for items include small toys or parts of toys, inexpensive jewelry, craft items, stickers, party favors, office supplies, anything useful and mailable!)
2) Post your items on your Facebook page along with the rules.
3) When other people start to participate everyone should comment on the pictures to claim a prize and PM their address to the person posting for where to mail the item. Note: No asking Questions about the items. Take it or leave it. That’s part of the surprise in getting something.
4) At the end of the month anything unclaimed goes in the donation pile.
Start looking in your junk drawers, in your toy bins, office drawers, your car, the bottom of your purses, your craft bins & party bins… everywhere!
Day 5, Sock Drawer
Not many people realize that you can donate socks to Goodwill (underwear too). The items should be in good condition and be clean and dry.
What about socks with holes in them? Or ones without a solemate? Those can actually be donated to H&M Stores to be recycled. Here’s a thought: While you’re going through your sock drawer, for every hole-y sock you find and/or every one off, put it in a donation bag AND add another garmet to donate. Good add on items include: Hole-y jeans, costumes that are wrecked, tops you haven’t worn in 16 years, and baby clothes that are clean, but have food stains you couldn’t get out of them (That one’s my favorite category).
For more information click below:
Days 6 & 7, Coats and Jackets, Hats, Gloves and Scarves
Baby its cold outside! Time to go through your closets and start thinking of others. While Goodwill is an easy place to donate, there are so many local women’s shelters, homeless shelters, and churches collecting these items this time of year. Kids coats are especially helpful since they are always growing and changing sizes so quickly! Just start making phone calls or asking around if anyone knows of groups collecting and you should have no trouble finding someone in your community that you can help.
Day 8 Clothing
There’s no better place to make an impact than your own community. Again, homeless shelters, women’s shelters and churches are great places to start asking around about donating clothing. If you have dresses or business clothing there are a few other places you can contact as well. https://www.timtebowfoundation.org/ministries/night-to-shine is a great place to donate prom dresses for their annual special needs prom. There are also several places to donate your wedding dress (more info at http://thefeministbride.com/donate-your-wedding-dress/). If you have clothing that you are tempted to throw out because of holes or tough to remove stains, check out H&M Stores (https://about.hm.com/en/sustainability/get-involved/recycle-your-clothes.html)
Day 9, Shoes & Accessories
While you are going through your closet, take a peek at your shoes and other accessories. Soles4souls.org and Shareyoursoles.org are two places to donate shoes. http://www.dressforsuccess.org/ also accepts professional shoes, purses and jewelry to be distributed to low income women in over 75 cities worldwide. Changepurse.org is another place to donate purses, handbags and clutches to benefit survivors of sex trafficking.
Day 10 Beauty Products
Have you ever received a gift of beauty products and didn’t like something you got? Maybe it’s a neon purple lipstick from Ipsy, maybe your new boyfriend didn’t realize you hate the smell of sunflowers, or maybe its yet another lotion or body spray from Bath and Body Works. While these products may not be your cup of tea, most women’s shelters would be glad to take pretty much any unopened beauty products you want to send their way. The rules on opened products varies, but it’s still worth calling and asking about if your products are in a pump (ie. Foundation), or are gently used. For more information on places to donate beauty products, follow the link below:
Day 11- Baby Items
Do you remember how blessed you felt after having your baby shower? Or maybe you didn’t have a shower, but still received one special gift from a friend or relative that made you feel like you and your baby to be would be loved. Sadly, not everyone has that. While not all baby products are meant to be reused (there are many regulations on carseats and mattresses etc.), your local women’s shelter would be happy to accept most baby items. Now is a great time to part with items your child has outgrown, whether it be clothes or extra diapers he didn’t get around to using, or even samples of formula that he or she never got around to using. For more information on what can be donated and other resources on where to donate, check out: https://www.parents.com/baby/gear/car-seats/how-to-recycle-your-baby-gear/
Day 12- Travel Shampoo & Soaps
In the past 10 years the hotel industry has been revolutionized by an organization called Clean the World. They encourage hotels to collect and donate partially used toiletries to be melted down and reformed to make new soap to donate to non-governmental organizations like the Salvation Army and Red Cross. While that program is for hotels, you can donate money to their cause, but if you have unopened toiletries, you can donate those locally. Homeless shelters and women’s shelters are great places to donate toiletries to, but also think about sending those items to the troops.
Day 13- Toys
This time of year there are so many charities asking for new, unwrapped toys to distribute, but what can you do with your gently used toys? Call up your local boys and girls clubs, homeless shelters, and women’s shelters, and you are bound to find someone who would love to have your gently used toys. Local daycares or church nurseries might also appreciate the gifts. If you’d like you can even post the toys for free on a Facebook garage sale site or Craigslist. For more information on places to donate toys to, follow the link below:
Day 14- Old Cell Phones & Chargers
For years I have heard about donating old cell phones and chargers to women’s shelters or local charities, and yet, I still hold on to at least 1 back up phone. I need to cut the safety net. Turn around time for getting a new phone is less than a week (often just days), and yes, we can survive without a phone for that long (gasp!). It actually has never been so easy to donate a used cell phone. Most of the major cell phone carriers (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) all have cell phone donation programs if you don’t want to go the shelter route. Some donate locally and some donate funds from recycled cell phones send soldiers prepaid phone cards. No more excuses, it’s time to clear out our junk drawers and give to people that will actually value that overpriced paperweight! For more information on donating cell phones, click the link below:
So there you have it! The first 14 days and 14 categories of how you can declutter for a cause this holiday season. So many of these items just accumulate in our houses and would be much more appreciated in someone else’s possession. Join me for Part 2 of Advent Decluttering here. If you like this mini-series, be sure to share it with your friends and family, and sign up for my mailing list to be a part of future challenges!