Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Post-Holiday Home Cleanup

Nathan Cabello - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Now that the holiday frenzy has died down a bit, it's time to start cleaning up and getting neat for the year ahead. For Cebuanos, who are still in the celebratory spirit because of the unfolding Sinulog festivities, this challenge might take firmer resolve. But, hey, if it is not started now, excuses are going to get in the way of actually getting it done. 

After Sinulog, there’s the Chinese New Year, a short two weeks or so after which Valentine’s Day comes. Then, the graduation season. And then, the Holy Week and the fun summer. There are always big reasons to warrant the eternal postponement of ridding the home of the clutter from the past holiday season and putting it back in order.

In an article at http://organizedhome.com, Cynthia Ewer, author of “Cut the Clutter: A Simple Organization Plan for a Clean and Tidy Home,” shares helpful tips for cutting clutter and getting better organized at home. The tips include steps that should have been taken during the holidays itself but are still useful at other celebrations during year that often leave the house in a mess.

Santa's Rule: Get One, Toss Two

Try this simple idea to pack a powerful clutter-cutting punch as you put away new holiday gifts: for each gift received, toss two counterparts. At other times during the year, for every item to bring to the house, make room for it by giving up something that has already become stale. For example, for every new DVD you add to the shelves, remove two older titles.

On the kids’ birthdays, for every gift of shirt or bag or toy they get, find two outgrown items to give away. Do the same with everything else. Consistently abide by the formula: One in, two out. Take advantage of the excitement of new possessions to help cut the ties to old, outworn items. This is sure to reduce clutter and reclaim precious space in your home.

The Holiday Mailing Box Challenge

Of course, those mailing boxes that piled up as holiday gifts arrived from generous relatives in other places could be recycled or reused. But those could also be used for cutting clutter. The collected boxes could be filled up with used but still useful household items, and then delivered as donation to a local charity.

Using stacked-up mailing boxes as a yardstick, the Holiday Mailing Box Challenge is a good way to be sure that holiday gifts don't create more clutter in the home. With the mailing boxes filled up with old items and donated to charity, you' re sure to keep clutter down at home. Candidates for donation are old household linens, books, VHS tapes, crafts supplies or toys. The good feeling from doing the kind act of getting these surplus items into the hands of those in need should provide extra de-cluttering motivation.

The Japanese Oosouji

In Japan, clearing dirt, clutter and the disorganization from the old year is an integral part of the national New Year tradition. Because each year is seen as separate and distinct, the final week of the old year is devoted to cleaning, de-cluttering and organizing. The practice is called oosouji.

To observe oosouji, Japanese homes receive a top-to-bottom cleaning. Business offices are sorted and organized and children clean out school desks. "Removing the dirt from the old year" creates a clean state of mind to welcome the New Year, and invite prosperity in the year to come.

Taking from the Japanese example, Filipinos may use the first weeks of January for the purpose. The year is just starting, anyway.

Sorting Before Stowing

As another year begins to unfold, most families take down holiday decorations and store them for the following year. But too often, there's a sense of “just leave it there in the meantime and get to it later” when it comes to putting away Christmas ornaments, holiday linens and outdoor lighting. Procrastination.

This year, pay it forward: sort and de-clutter holiday decorations, linens and specialty cooking items as you store them. Cut the non-working, the tattered, and the tired from the herd as you put away holiday decorations. Old decor items can be recycled or donated; stained linens can be repurposed as cleaning cloths.

Streamline holiday decorating next year – sort before you stow!

Sending White Elephants on Their Way

When it comes to holiday giving, it's the thought that counts. But when those thoughts leave you scratching your head? Come up with a plan to wrangle the year's white elephant gifts: those that you "really shouldn't have!" – but that had entered your home during the season.

Before they can become clutter, sort out white elephant gifts by either putting them away in the closet or box for re-gifting. One thing – to prevent re-gifting faux pas, scribble a short note outlining who gave what for each gift to put away. Make a note on the original gift tag to prevent you from re-gifting unneeded items to their original givers.

By re-gifting white elephant gifts, you'll clear clutter and breathe new life into them. Who knows? Your white elephant may be someone else's favorite gift!

A Toy Library

Families with young children can find bedrooms and storage spaces overflowing after Santa passed through. Setting up a toy library can be the solution. A toy library is a set of playthings that, while old and familiar, still retain play value.

Pushed out of the limelight by new Christmas toys, toy library items will seem new and exciting if they're given a rest for a few months, then brought out to liven up a rainy afternoon. Good toy library candidates are construction sets, doll houses, blocks or playsets and such other stuff that have been pushed to the sidelines by the arrival of new Christmas toys. Toy library items may be put in stored in plastic garbage bags or lidded plastic storage containers and temporarily tucked away in the attic or storage area.

The challenge of cleaning up and getting the home organized should be taken seriously. And the beginning of the year is an opportune time for it. A cluttered home could make a cluttered life. (FREEMAN)

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