The holiday season is nothing short of hectic. Between shopping for gifts, buying groceries, decorating, and spending time with family, the last thing you want to worry about is decluttering your home.

“It’s that time of year when more stuff comes in during a two-week period than the rest of the year [combined],” says Suzanne O’Donnell of My LA Organizer.

That’s why you should consider getting ahead of the game by tackling a few key decluttering projects early.

“Having an organized home will allow you to focus on the more meaningful moments of the holiday season, and give you more time for memory-making with friends and family,” says Michelle Hale, organizer and co-founder of Henry & Higby.

So, grab a roll of plastic bags, turn up your holiday playlist, and get to work.

1. Linen Closet

Taking time to declutter and reorganize your linen closet or cabinet will make guest preparation that much easier, says Hale.

“There is nothing worse than realizing you are down a top sheet because of a last minute Halloween costume change,” she says.

To start, get rid of any permanently stained, tattered, or mismatched linens. Once you’ve narrowed down your collection, sort through the remaining items and separate them into sets by color and size. Hale suggests neatly stack matching fitted sheets, top sheets, and pillowcases together before tucking them into one corresponding pillowcase.

“This will help make the setup process easier when it is time to change your sheets or make up the guest bed for a visitor,” she says.

Playing nice

2. Children’s Bedroom or Playroom

Decluttering your child’s bedroom or play area can help prevent major overcrowding when the holidays are over, says O’Donnell.

First, Hale recommends getting rid of any puzzles or games with missing pieces or broken parts.

“Work through the room and remove the toys and items that are obviously too young for your child or aren’t being used anymore,” says Hale. “Consider donating them locally to families in need,” she says.

Organize the remaining items by category: books, puzzles, games, stuffed animals, LEGO sets, and the like.

Open bins make toys accessible and make it easier for [kids] to help with cleanup,” Hale says.

3. Kitchen

Between hours of baking, cooking, and gabbing at the counter with mugs of cocoa, the kitchen gets its fair share of traffic during the holidays. A decluttering session can help simplify everything from hosting to meal prep.

Start with your fridge and pantry: toss expired foods and gather nonperishable items you’d like to donate, like canned soup or boxes of rice. From there, go through your cabinets: get rid of multiples (no household needs four can openers), broken tools, items you never use (like the ice-cream maker), and anything that’s no longer your taste.

Once you’ve purged, be strategic about how you organize your remaining kitchen items. Store frequently used items, like pans and everyday dishes, front and center. If you know you’ll be baking and hosting during the holidays, put muffin tins, cookie sheets, serving trays, and the like in one easily accessible cabinet.

Clean garage

4. Garage

Dedicate an upcoming Saturday morning to overhauling your garage. “Making room now will ensure [you have] easy access to holiday decor, shovels, and other winter supplies later in the season,” says Hale.

Because garages are often home to dusty piles of damaged or long-forgotten items, it’s a good idea to start by tossing everything you no longer want or need. Think: cans of expired paint, old running shoes, and camping supplies you don’t plan to use.

When organizing the remaining items, try to store everything off the garage floor for a calmer, cleaner look, says Hale.

“This could mean installing a shelving system on one wall or even wire shelving racks so that you can start hanging tools and getting containers and other items onto shelves,” she explains.

For frequently used items, like tools, cleaning supplies, or holiday decor, opt for clear storage bins so you can easily identify the contents, Hale suggests.

Paige Smith