Is your house overflowing with strands of lights, ugly sweaters and toys that bring no joy? Then consider a new holiday tradition: decluttering Christmas decorations.

If you need to dig through bins of decor to find your favorites, that might be sign you have too many Christmas decorations. If that’s the case, now is the time to do something about it.

“Declutter before you decorate,” says Marty Basher, a home organization expert for Modular Closets. “‘Tis the season to be merry, so get through your clutter and make your holiday season about the joy of it, not the stuff.”

Decluttering Christmas Decorations

Looking to get a jump start on decluttering Christmas decorations? Here are some items you can discard right away:

  • Decorations you didn’t use last year. They just aren’t your style any more, am I right?
  • Dusty greeting cards. Go ahead and recycle any old cards that don’t hold sentimental value. Scan or put special ones in a keepsake box.
  • Duplicate items. Do you really need five holiday platters and a gazillion baskets? Pick the best, and toss the rest.
  • Broken items. If that ornament has a big crack across it or you have a string of lights that doesn’t work, you don’t need them any more.

Still have too much Christmas decorations? Break out the eggnog and follow these six strategies to declutter holiday decorations:

1. Sort By Category.

If you have decorations for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas mixed together in boxes, pull everything out.

“Go through your decorations and make sure they are sorted by holiday,” suggests Bridget James, a senior professional organizer with The Organizing Professionals® in Philadelphia.

  • Divide decorations by type (ornaments, pillows, lights, etc).
  • Identify multiples and let go of excess items.
  • Remember to get rid of any broken pieces.

“For some reason, we all tend to keep strings of lights that don’t work and broken baubles with missing bits,” Basher says.

2. Think About Time and Effort.

For decorations in good condition, calculate the time needed to set up and maintain them. Huge inflatables need to set up, blown up, and then monitored for air loss all season. A winter village could take days to arrange.

  • Identify pieces that take extra effort to set up.
  • Decide if you are really willing to put them up every year.
  • Donate or sell high-maintenance pieces.

3. Choose a Style.

“Decide on a theme or a color scheme that you really like and that you’re likely to reuse,” suggests Basher.

If your home has a modern tone, you might opt for silver and white decorations, instead of green and red. Part with decorations that clash with your overall design aesthetic.

4. Consolidate Wrapping Paper and Ribbons.

If you have several rolls of wrapping paper with only a bit of paper left, remove the remaining paper from each roll.

“Put them in a box set aside for wrapping small items,” Basher says.

  • Throw out smushed bows and frayed ribbons.
  • Shred and recycle holiday return address labels from your previous residence.
  • Corral all of your wrapping paper and supplies in one or two plastic crates.

5. Hold on to What Matters.

A train set, antique ornament collection, or group of hand painted elves might bring joy to someone later on. This might include items you that have been passed on to you from previous generations. If you don’t plan to use them often, but want to pass them on to your children, find a safe spot for now.

“Store ornaments and small holiday figurines in specialized containers with adjustable compartments to protect them from damage while maximizing space,” says Kirsten Fisher, a professional organizer and founder of Imagine Home Organization.

It can be tough to get rid of pieces that have been passed down through generations, even if you rarely use them.  Instead of tossing them, Basher suggests creating a separate box for sentimental items. That way you can enjoy them from time to time, but don’t have to sort through them every year.

Rachel Hartman


  1. Just worked with someone today and encouraged them to let go of the extra “free” holiday greeting cards. It is helpful to have some on hand, but it isn’t free when you are trying to stuff 40 cards into a drawer – that costs energy and space!

  2. What a great list of items to discard! I also love how you encouraged readers to make decluttering a holiday tradition – I couldn’t agree more! Wonderful post 🙂

  3. Great list. We declutter the week before Christmas and then we go through everything again the week after. It’s a little difficult to let everything go before the holiday, because I don’t want to ruin the surprise of gifts. That is why we have a second round after the holidays.

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