It's early November now, which means those crazy holidays are approaching at a rapid pace and there's nothing we can do but brace ourselves. I'm nowhere near ready. My own wish list is bleak because I can't think of a single thing I want and/or need, and, for the life of me, I have no idea what to buy anyone else.
What I need is a jolt to throw myself into the holiday traditions. For regular people, those might be pulling out decorations or sending Christmas cards, but for my bah humbug-self, who doesn't care about either of those, nothing says the holidays like cleaning out my closet.
People always talk about spring cleaning, but wouldn't you want to be out and about in the spring? Who wants to spend springtime poking around the dark trenches of her closets and drawers instead of embracing the warm weather? Honestly, I wouldn't volunteer to do either, but for the average person, winter seems the appropriate time to do these types of indoor activities. I personally choose the time before Christmas because I can't bear the thought of dragging new items into my house when it's already chock-full of old crap. It's the safe way to binge and purge. And while you probably won't stick to the clean slate you plan for your New Year's resolution, you can at least have a clean spot to store your stuff.
I know that it seems illogical to start a tremendous task like this when there are a million other things to do--wrapping gifts, baking food, decorating... uh, other holiday stuff--but it seems to me that right before you receive new things for yourself or stockpile your gifts for others, shouldn't you have somewhere to stick them?
I store other people's secret loot in my closet. I don't know if this is a practice held worldwide or if I just took this as my hiding spot because my mother and grandmother store holiday gifts in the closet, too.
In addition to this being the pre-holiday storage space, it's also the spot hit hardest post-holiday; it's typically where my new gifts and clothes go.
Your yuletide cleaning task might take you in multiple directions. Kids get new clothes, but they also get new toys, so you may need to take a trip through the toy box as well. You may hide gifts in a spare bedroom that may need to be de-cluttered before it's newly cluttered. There's no point in sugar coating it--this has the potential to be a daunting, prolonging task. You could start this Saturday and end sometime in mid-2008, but take a deep breath, grab a trash bag and clear some space. It's time for a holiday clean up.
What to Purge
Okay, so the general rule is that if you haven't worn it, touched it, used it, whatevered it within the past six months, it's a goner. That's where this gets tricky because who can recall what they've used in the past six months? Pack rats, the people who generally need to give this advice a go, will find this tremendously hard, believing that just because they haven't needed something in the past six months doesn't mean they won't need it in the next six or the next year or the next seven years...
I've recently learned a trick for determining this time frame in your closet. Turn the hangers in the opposite direction. Turn everything backwards, with the pointed end of the hanger facing out; when you wear the item, flip it back to normal. Within the six months you'll discover what's being worn and what's being neglected. And if you did this back in May or June, your task will be so much easier than everyone else's who will have to try on a bunch of things.
Start at the back of your closet, the neglected area, and work your way forward. Try things on that haven't seen the light of day in a while. Still fancy that sweater from last year? Does it still have the same luster as it once did? Does it feel too tight?
Don't keep things because you think if you lose five more, ten more, blank more pounds you'll wear it. Don't keep something because you think it will soon be back in style. By the time it is, you'll be too and the trend will have changed just enough so that your version won't work. Don't keep something because you spent a lot of money on it either--just because it cost a bundle doesn't mean you're suddenly going to wear it. Same thing with sentimental items: bridesmaids dresses, prom dresses, or other items that you feel compelled to save just for the sake of it shouldn't be kept. There are pictures, there are memories and once you ditch them, there's closet space for brand new memories.
Sentimental value also extends to things we've inherited or received as gifts. While I don't have the answers for huge household items like old-fashioned armoires, I know that if you've inherited jewelry that doesn't fit in with what you typically wear, you're not stuck with it in its original form. For this, I'm really talking about good jewelry, the kind that has adjectives like precious and semi-precious.
Take those unworn items to a local jeweler and see what they can create for you that you will wear. Maybe you'd prefer a necklace to earrings or you don't like the stone shape or the color of gold. It's not heartless, but heartfelt. You were given these pieces to wear and you should, even if they aren't in their original state. Once you love the pieces, you won't have to worry about the six-month rule; you'll be sporting those looks year round.
But none of these decisions has to be made on your own. Get the whole family involved. I'm sure your parents will be tossing in plenty of new clothes in with the Christmas mix. There is the unwritten parent ratio that states for each part toy a child must receive two parts clothes. Children grow fast and destroy clothes even faster, so by going through their stuff, you'll discover what needs to be replaced. Last year's coat might not work this year if little Johnny's growing fast. You might as well discover it now while there's still time to buy a new one, wrap it and stick it under the tree.
Is something not being worn because it needs repair? Start a pile of shoes that need to be shined, heels that need new tips, shirts with missing buttons or skirts with loose hems. If you know you're not going to spend the time, money and/or effort to fix them, add them to your discard pile. Oh, there will be piles. There will the throwaway pile of things that are of no use to anyone and a pile that can be used towards something good. No one wants your random sock without its counterpart, but gently used clothing, toys, kitchenware, furniture, etc. can have new homes. More about your options in a moment.
Here's something you might not get for the holidays, but let's leave no stone unturned. Gals, time to check out the makeup. This task is about purging yourself of things you don't need and the last thing you need around the holidays is to be covered in makeup bacteria. Yes, that's the gross part about makeup that has gone past its freshness. Liquid concealers and mascara are the important items that should be given the most attention. Once opened, they have a three-month shelf life. Powders, like eye shadows and blush, have a year, as do lipsticks and liners, both eye and lip.
Ensuring that you do this step around the holidays, you'll know when things are due to hit the trash. This step will make certain that your holiday palette consists of silver and gold instead the reds of skin irritations and pinks of pink eye.
By this point the family has probably rounded up a pile of discarded items. You have several options for removing these items. For extra holiday cash, you could consider taking them to a consignment store or resale shop. Consignment stores won't give you the money until they've sold the item, but resale shops give you the money on the same day. Remember that just because you don't want it doesn't necessarily mean they'll want it, but if you're looking to have a few extra bucks for holiday spending, a consignment or resale store might be a good route.
If you're in the spirit of giving this holiday season, there are a variety of local organizations that you can donate your items. The Goodwill Industries accept clothes and more. This organization will sell your items, but 83 percent of that goes into job training programs.
Depending on where you live in Tulsa, AMVETS can pick up your items for you by simply calling. Those donations will help support the variety of services offered by American Veterans.
United Cerebral Palsy of Oklahoma also picks up clothing in areas throughout Tulsa, as accepting dropped off items. Money earned from your donation is used throughout the state in assisting families with children affected by cerebral palsy. I've no doubt there are countless other organizations throughout Tulsa and surrounding areas that take clothing and other donations. Choose one of these or select one that gives to an organization that's important to you.
So before you begin the exhaustion of gift giving and receiving, roll up your sleeves, brace the domain that is your closet, and start cleaning.
Share this article: