12 Ways To Ensure The Holidays Don't Leave You With Clutter In The New Year

by Alexander Harris

Christmas is a time of celebration and cheer, but also a time of clutter.

From tacky decorations and ugly sweaters to fruitcakes and tube socks from Aunt Beatrice, the winter holiday brings with it a blizzard of stuff we don't always need or want.

In fact, found that 79 percent of the population never uses some gifts they receive, and 89 percent of Millennials said the same.

A whopping 81 percent of Americans said they would rather receive an “experience” than a physical gift this year.

But traditions are hard to break, aren't they?

To help you and your family get on the right track, here are 12 tips for having a clutter-free Christmas:

1. Say goodbye to worn out decorations.

Get rid of broken and worn out items as you unpack your decorations. Joanna Monahan of Major Organizers says, "Donate any unused decorative items that are still in good shape."

2. Donate the excess.

Donate whatever is left over after you've already put up all the decorations you really love. Chances are the unused ones don't matter much and someone else can get better use out of them.

3. Downsize in the fall.

While you're in the process donating stuff, you should also get rid of some old toys and children's clothing.

“For my children, my rule is you have to subtract before you add,” said organizer Debbie Lillard. For Debbie, this means weeding out items they don't need or want before Christmas comes around.

4. Establish a “Gift Station.”

If you're buying a lot of gifts this year, organizer Lauren Williams of Casual Uncluttering suggests setting up a dedicated gift station in your home. This could be a table where you keep all the gifts, wraps and cards in one place.

“If you have to hide gifts, make a list for yourself about where and what you're hiding,” said Williams.

5. Ask for a wish list.

Don't play the guessing game, says celebrity home stager Tori Toth.

“Choosing a gift can be hard, but I try and find out what the person actually needs so it won't end up in a closet,” Toth said.

“I still think asking for a wish list is an important step in the gift giving process.”

6. Think before you buy.

Organizer Hazel Thornton says to think about how gifts will physically fit into your home before buying them for family members.

“Where will this item live? Who will take care of it? What if they don't like it? Will it be worth the space it occupies? Will it end up costing them time, energy and money?”

7. Consent to re-gifting.

Don't take it personally if someone doesn't want to keep a gift you gave them.

“I chose this for you and if you don't like it, please feel free to donate, sell or re-gift it. There are no strings attached with gift giving so if I didn't buy a good gift, they'll have no guilt when releasing it,” explains organizer Julie Coraccio.

8. Re-gift thoughtfully.

"If you receive any gifts you don't like, decide within a day or so what to do with them," says Annie Draddy co-owner of professional organization firm Henry & Higby.

She says to think of someone else you know who might like the gift, and if no one comes to mind, then donate.

“We employ this in our household because sometimes the gifts just aren't a fit,” Draddy said.

9. Send a card instead.

Draddy also says to send a card written from the heart instead of buying a useless gift just because you feel pressured to do so.

“A genuine message of love and friendship will go a lot further than another box of wine charms that don't fit your stemware,” she explained.

10. Give experiences.

Organizer Amy Trager says she always suggests giving experiential gifts: gift certificates for classes, restaurants and events like concerts or plays.

11. Give to charity.

Make giving to good causes part of your Christmas tradition, says organizer Laurie Palau of simply B organized.

“Pediatric cancer research is something our family is passionate about. This year our kids have offered to donate some of the money that would be used towards gifts for them to be given to the St. Baldrick's Foundation instead,” Palau said.

12. Take a trip.

Kristin Messina, co-founder of travel company YonderWork, suggests taking a big family trip instead of giving gifts to one another.

“My family is mostly all adults now and we had this exact discussion on 'clutter-free' gift giving last year,” Messina said.

Instead of spending on big ticket gifts, Messina's family pooled together money and spent 10 days together in Bali.

“Now that everyone is so busy and lives in different states, the gift of time in a magical place like Bali was the best gift ever!” she exclaimed.