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Advent Decluttering- Pt. 2

By December 14, 2017 Decluttering, Holidays

Welcome to weeks 3 and 4 of 25 Days of Giving! Thank you for joining me on this advent adventure! I can’t believe December is half over already. If you participated in Part 1 with me, congratulations and keep up the good work!! If you are just joining me, feel free to just jump in right where we’re at. If you want to check out  Part 1 follow the link to see what you missed!

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. If you like, you can do the daily challenges in order, or if you are like me, do them knock out style each week. This week we will be decluttering DVDs, Games & Video Games, Beverage Mix Packs, Linens & Towels, Cleaning & Laundry Supplies, Newspapers, & Dog Toys. Week 4 will be the week of Christmas, and even though I said 25 Days of Giving, I’m filling in the whole week with categories of giving. You can take a few days off and pick back up after the holiday, or you can power through the extended challenge. Week 4 we will be decluttering Food & Pantry Supplies (Food Storage Containers, Plastic Utensils, Paper Towels), Art & Craft Supplies, Books, Gift Cards, School & Office Supplies, Medical & Dental Supplies & Eyeglasses, And Utility Closet items- Garbage bags, Lightbulbs, Batteries. 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 3 and 4. 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, many in your local community!

Week 3
Day 15- DVDs
Day 16- Games & Video Games
Day 17- Beverage Mix Packs
Day 18- Linens & Towels
Day 19- Cleaning & Laundry Supplies
Day 20- Newspapers
Day 21- Dog Toys

Week 4
Day 22- Food & Pantry Supplies (Food Storage Containers, Plastic Utensils, Paper Towels)
Day 23- Art & Craft Supplies
Day 24- Books
Day 25- Gift Cards
Day 26- School & Office Supplies
Day 27- Medical & Dental Supplies & Eyeglasses
Day 28- Utility Closet- Garbage bags, TP, Lightbulbs, Batteries

Day 15- DVDs Etc.

DVDs and Blue Ray Discs are an interesting topic. I own both and have my husband’s PlayStation that we can watch them on. But today’s world is so digital, he prefers buying new releases on iTunes or watching movies on Netflix. Now is a great time to go through your stash and thin out any DVDs, Blue Rays, or VHS tapes that are taking up space. I know, before Netflix was available and Family Guy was cancelled, you thought your favorite show was never coming back to tv. I didn’t either and I bought a few seasons on DVD. Do you ever really watch them? Me neither. Time to go through all of your entertainment and donate it to someone who will appreciate it. Goodwill is an option, but you know who would really appreciate it? Soldiers overseas. Some camps have created DVD libraries because there is nothing to do in the waiting periods. You can easily Google “DVDs for troops” and find 184,000 results on where to donate, but Amvets has a program called Task Force DVDs you can check out at

By the way, if you still have VHS tapes, and have no idea what to do with them, you can ask around to nursing homes and other care facilities to see if they can use them, or recycle them (more info at

Day 16- Games & Video Games

Do you still have a game of Mall Madness in your basement? Have your kids outgrown the Eye Spy board game? Did you receive a duplicate game like LRC or Uno? Now is a great time to go through all of your games, board games, and video games and donate before you get more for Christmas! You can always take the easy route to Goodwill, or you can post them for free on Facebook Marketplace. The best way to donate video games or adult focused games is by sending a care package to the troops. There is so much down time for soldiers overseas, that receiving a package of UNO cards can really boost morale.

Day 17- Beverage Mix Packs

While you are rounding up donations for soldiers, add this often over looked category to your pile: Beverage Mix Packets. Don’t know what I mean? Think Kool Aid packs, Crystal Light, instant coffee or tea and Gatorade powder mixes. Water is the best thing on base to keep them hydrated, but a little flavor can go a long way to lift spirits.

Day 18- Linens & Towels

Oops, I was cleaning something and wiped up bleach with my navy blue towel! It’s ruined. I’d put it in my closet with my other cleaning rags, but that bin is overflowing with old t-shirts, microfiber cloths, and other towels and rags. You know who could use some extra towels and linens that won’t judge you for your bleach stain? Animal shelters! These items can be used for bedding or to clean up messes.

Day 19- Cleaning & Laundry Supplies

Speaking of cleaning up messes, animal shelters typically appreciate donations of cleaning supplies, since they go through a lot of them. Did you recently go green with all of your cleaning supplies, or switch to Norwex? I bet you still have all of your old cleaning supplies still sitting in your closet. Now is a great time to declutter those supplies and take them to your favorite animal shelter at the end of the week!

Special Note: Lysol and Pine-sol are sometimes banned at animal shelters because cats can walk through them and ingest them when grooming themselves which can be fatal. Save those cleaners and donate them to people shelters instead!


Day 20- Newspapers

Everyone knows pets can be messy, and newspapers are a great tool to have for easier clean up. While you are rounding up supplies to donate to an animal shelter this week, throw your newspapers in the donation pile. Ask your neighbors for theirs too!

Day 21- Dog Toys

Does your pet have more toys than he plays with? At one time my dog had 7 balls, 2 squeaky toys, and 2 different rope toys. As much as he tries, he can’t possibly play with all those toys at once. He actually is not into the rope toys because I am not into rope toys. Today is a great day to take inventory and do a toy round up! Take any extra toys to a local animal shelter to make some very happy pets this holiday season!

Day 22- Food & Pantry Supplies

Everyone knows a place where you can donate food this holiday season. Your local food banks, churches, homeless shelters and women’s shelters will gladly accept and distribute food that is not expired. Did you know that many of these places also have a need for other pantry supplies like napkins, paper towels, plastic utensils and food storage containers? This week when you are decluttering your pantry, check to see if you have any of these other items to donate as well.

Day 23- Art & Craft Supplies

Anyone who has kids probably has a miscellaneous bin of art supplies in case of a rainy day. My mom had a whole craft closet. Sometimes items were multifunctional and could be repurposed for different projects (think Velcro, puff paint, & jingle bells), but most of the time if we used an item for one project and had left over pieces (beads, sequins, and anything fringe!), those pieces would go untouched for years. Instead of letting those items sit in a closet, donate them to someone who will appreciate the art & craft supplies. Children’s hospitals, women’s shelters, community centers, schools, or churches are great places to donate these items.

Day 24- Books

I love books, but they take up room to store them, and at one point I did not have enough shelf space for the books I had. When books start taking over your space, its time to thin out your stash. The first place I look to donate is my local library. Not only will it help my community, but if I ever want to read the books I have donated, I can always check them out and read and return them. Other places to donate include,, and (great for used textbooks that are past buy back editions).

Day 25- Gift Cards

Have you ever received a gift card for something you had no idea what it was, or received one for something you didn’t really like, or maybe you bought something with a gift card and you have a weird balance left over that you don’t know what to do with? Instead of leaving the gift card in your wallet to collect dust, donate it to a good cause! Many homeless shelters and women’s shelters take gift card donations. Other places to donate gift cards include websites like CharityChoice, or where you can donate the value of the gift card to a nonprofit organization of your choice. Both websites resell gift cards.

Day 26- School & Office Supplies

At the end of every school year, while you are cleaning out desks, lockers, and backpacks, you may find unused or partially used school supplies. Instead of throwing them out, look into donating those items to places that would appreciate them. Many teachers will gladly take extra school supplies off your hands and pass them along to those in need (I know so many teachers who go above and beyond, and spend their own money to make sure that every kid in their class has the supplies they need to succeed, especially those in lower income families). If a kid forgets their notebook, or their colored pencils for a day, its nice to have a teacher’s set of supplies to let the kid borrow and sometimes keep. Other places to donate include almost any non-profit, because buying those office supplies adds up financially, and they would rather spend the money on their cause. A specific organization that asks for office supplies is Muscular Dystrophy Association (

Day 27- Medical & Dental Supplies & Eyeglasses

Many people know that the Lion’s Club takes donations for used eyeglasses, but what can you do with other medical supplies? Rehab centers and VA Hospitals will often take donations of crutches, wheel chairs, and support braces. What about everything else in your medicine cabinet? Excluding drugs, much of the other items can be donated to Advocates for World Health ( or The Medical Equipment Donation Agency ( Don’t overlook the dental products while you’re in a purging mood! The National Children’s Oral Health Foundation has a Smile Drive for Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash & mouth guards. More information can be found at

Day 28- Utility Closet

Last Day of our advent! Thank you for sticking with me! Today we explore the depths of our utility closet. Don’t have one? You can find many of these items scattered in other closets, in the garage, in the basement, or under the kitchen sink. What we don’t realize when donating to local shelters is that the same things that keep our house running keeps their house running too. The light bulbs, the trash bags, the batteries, the extension cords, paper towels and toilet paper. I recently bought the wrong garbage bags… Of course I didn’t realize it until I opened the box, and by then I’m not returning them because it was my error. What’s a person to do? Use it as a great excuse to purge other items and donate to people who will appreciate these items. I’m not going to take just 1 box of trash bags to a shelter and say “Here you go.” Instead I am going to bundle up as many things as I can in order to make my trip worth it on so many levels. I bought some CFL light bulbs last year because they were on sale. I still have incandescent bulbs in my stash, but prefer CFL’s (and next year I’ll probably switch to LEDs). To the donation pile it goes! What else can I find? Batteries- Check! Don’t need those D’s now that we are out of the baby stage. And I am definitely going to go back through the other categories and see if there is anything I missed that can go with me.

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 that are local to you or you can find organizations that help donations reach across the world. It’s amazing how small our world had become with technology. I hope I have inspired you to look into your hearts, and look into your closets and donate what you can to help those in need.

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Christmas Simplified: The New 4 Gift Rules

By December 6, 2017 Holidays

As Christmas approaches, temperatures drop and credit card balances rise. “I just want my kids to have things I never had, growing up,” is an endearing sentiment from many parents and grandparents every year. But what once was a holiday known for family gatherings and goodwill toward men, has now become synonymous with keeping up with the Joneses.

Nowadays, getting a single Christmas present is unheard of. Not only do people focus on getting the hottest toy before it sells out (or be forced to pay triple the price online), but they also focus on getting the flashiest presents and / or the most presents they can get for their over the top budgets (if they even have budgets). It’s no wonder that Christmas has gotten out of control.

But not for Everyone…

Within the past 10 years some people have started simplifying their Christmas givings in an attempt to rein it in and be more intentional with their gifts. For years a trend has been circulating about doing category Christmas presents, which has also been referred to as the 4 Gift Rule.

The idea is that the receiver gets 4 presents- something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. While I think this is a nice idea, it is not as easy as it sounds.

The flaw in the plan is the need category. Basic human needs are food, water, shelter, and love. Chances are, if you are considering implementing the 4 Gift Rule, 1) You have the internet, and 2) Your basic needs are met. The problem with all other needs is that if they truly register as a need, you try to take care of the need as soon as possible and not wait until December 25th to fix it.

This year I am revamping the categories. I consider clothing a basic need, but it has its own category in the 4 Gift Rule. This is a problem because when I think of the “need category” I think of socks. They are practical and boring; no one wants to buy them. They are need, but you also wear them, so how do you categorize them? Henceforth I propose we combine the two categories. People need clothes. End of story.

Now, what category should we add to the rhyme? Many parents are shifting their mindset and wanting less “stuff” and more experience gifts, so why not make it a category? Let’s call it, “something to do,” instead of using the word “experience.” Many people are actually opposed to the word experience because they associate it with going to an event or taking a vacation, which are both difficult concepts to wrap and fit under a tree. By saying, “something to do,” it takes the pressure off of people who want to give gifts that can be unwrapped. Receivers can still unwrap board games, kitchen items, a science kit, etc. They are still experiences, but it’s an easier concept to explain to others.

So, as of 2017, the New Categories for the 4 Gift Rule are:

Something they Want,
Something they Need,
Something to DO,
And Something to Read

Please comment below with your thoughts!

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25 Days of Giving, Advent Decluttering- Pt 1

By November 30, 2017 Decluttering, Holidays

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.


Week 1

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


Week 2

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. 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 If you have clothing that you are tempted to throw out because of holes or tough to remove stains, check out H&M Stores (


Day 9, Shoes & Accessories

While you are going through your closet, take a peek at your shoes and other accessories. and are two places to donate shoes. also accepts professional shoes, purses and jewelry to be distributed to low income women in over 75 cities worldwide. 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:


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!

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