British Columbia

How to declutter after Christmas and purge what you don't need

As we look towards a clean start in the New Year, we asked professional organizer Elinor Warkentin for her advice on decluttering - and purging what you don't need.

Professional organizer Elinor Warkentin has tidied homes and businesses across North America

Professional organizer Elinor Warkentin says try following the "one in, one out rule" by replacing the old with the new. (CBC)

Christmas is a time of peace, love — and often, the accumulation of more stuff.

As we look towards a clean start in the New Year, we asked professional organizer Elinor Warkentin for her advice on purging what you don't need.

"It's an excellent time of the year decluttering. Out with the old and in with the new. The energy you will create will be fresher and more inspiring," she said.

Warkentin lives in a tidy 385 square feet home in Vancouver and has been a member of the Professional Organizers of Canada since 2003. 

Here are her tips on managing the excess items in your life. 

​One in, one out

"You can probably take a look at what you got that's new, a present, that might replace what you already have," suggests Warkentin.

So, if you've received or bought two pairs of socks this season, try getting rid of two existing pairs of socks.

Guilt-free returns

Warkentin says we shouldn't feel guilty about gifts we don't like; if a gift receipt is included that means it's OK to return it for something you will enjoy.

"I tell people, 'Don't keep things out of obligation.' That's not what the person gave you, that's not what they want you to feel," said Warkentin.

Re-gifting, as long as it's to a different person, is also acceptable.

Wrapping paper galore

Try thinking of ways to reuse wrapping paper to keep it out of the garbage. Consider giving it to kids for crafts. Or it can be shredded and used as packaging down the road.

"In my building, I wanted to avoid the landfill," said Warkentin. "So I put up a nice box that said, 'Leave me your Christmas wrap and I'll take it to the daycare.'" 

Christmas baubles

If you bought new Christmas decorations, try to keep to the amount of space you use to store your decorations the same as it was before the Christmas season. 

Give the rest away to charity or friends.

"I designate an amount of space for everything ... I figure if I have more than what fits in that box, then that's too much for me."

With files from Megan Batchelor


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