Tips for Downsizing Your Holiday Clutter

Ok gang, There are only 7 Days left till Christmas! I know, you don’t want to even think about it. We’re a nation of consumers and sometimes that means we spend way too much on things that we don’t necessarily need or have the space for. There is no time worse for this than the holidays.  Even if you can keep from spending yourself, your family will want to keep giving you things that you only pull out once a year and feel awful about having in the first place. So how can you conquer the hum bug of over indulgence? Here are a few tips to help you avoid the holiday clutter.

Set Limits

Sometimes (and most people will tell me that there is NO WAY their mom could be held back) you need to throw down some limitations on the gift giving. My wife and I were moving back east one year when we realized that we hadn’t really bought anything for each other for Christmas. As we pulled into the Target parking lot, an idea stuck me and I told her, “Ok, here is a chance for us to have fun, be creative and limit what we spend and have to transport all at the same time. Here’s $20 and I will take $20, we each have 20 minutes to buy what we can for each other with just this amount of money. Ready? GO!” Not only was it the most fun Christmas shopping ever, but we could pack everything we gave each other into a duffel bag.

Spend money on  Experiences

holiday clutter - clothes-travel-voyage-backpackWhy get stuff when you can get vacations instead! This year, instead of the family going back and forth about what to get each other, put your money toward a family vacation. Renting a cabin or beach house for the whole family is normally cheaper anyway. Just make sure you pick a place that has copious things to do during the day. That way when you get to dinner, you can share your experiences with your family and make plans for the next day.


In the last five years, I will honestly say that unless someone asks for something specific, I have given nothing but consumables. Bottles of wine, edibles from Harry and David, or even gift cards are all gifts that take up minimum space or can be consumed easily. If you are thinking of building your tiny home in the near future, there is no better time than the holidays to stock up on those Home Depot gift cards.

 Wish Lists

Amazon is the most popular, but there are plenty of other companies that offer up wish lists. Get everything you really want on that list and share it with friends and family. There is nothing better than getting what you really want this year. Oh, and if you didn’t already know, there are a ton of tools that you can buy there, too!

Holiday Clutter Return /Re-gift

So at the end of the day, if you have done everything that you could to try to keep the family from giving you stuff that you didn’t need but no one listened, there are a couple of choices. Many outlets, both online and in person have a more lenient return policy during the holidays. Even if they won’t give you cash back, take the store credit and later on down the road, buy the stuff you really want. And of course you can always hang on to the gift and give it to someone else. Just be smart: keep a list of every gift you have and who gave it to you. There is nothing worse than giving it back to the original gifter.

So what are you doing with your holidays? Let us know in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “Tips for Downsizing Your Holiday Clutter

  1. Sharee said:

    I give gift cards…movie tickets, gas cards, department store cards, restaurant cards, grocery store cards. To teenage grandkids I give money. I make the bills into origami shapes and give them out. When my kids are going to throw out old clothes, I take them and make quillows (a lap blanket that folds up into a pillow) that can go in the house or in the car.

    If I make food for the holidays I include disposable storage containers so I don’t have to take leftovers home or fill up my refrigerator with food I won’t get to before it goes bad.

    I have an artificial tree that can be upsized or downsized depending on room available and pick up a branch or two of the real thing so I can have the smell.

    Decorating goes on vertical surfaces such as windows and walls; uses less space.

  2. Maggie Davoudi said:

    Great ideas but couldn’t you add that giving or receiving a gift of a donation to a favorite charity showshow much you or they care and know the recipient? Anyone who knows me understands how important animal rescues are to me.

    • Tom Bastek said:

      Maggie! Excellent point! I am a huge fan of animal rescues as well!

  3. Amy said:

    I keep asking family to buy me tickets for my local minor-league baseball games, but they keep buying me more scarves and hats than I can wear, oh well! That’s what Salvation Army thrift stores are there for. But I think, with building a tiny house coming closer to reality, I will start asking for those Home Depot gift cards. That is a great idea!

  4. Amy said:

    My real problem a Christmas is decorations. I have more Christmas tree ornaments than can fit on one tree… But sometimes I like to pick a theme. Being artsy is definitely a curse sometimes…

  5. Oktober1028 said:

    As well as a list, perhaps a small label underneath the gift with the gifter’s name? Easy to see quickly, and no residue left after peeling. Just handwritten, nothing fancy. I have so many labels left to use, it’s a great idea. Thanks!

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