Instead of letting your lack of space hurt your festive spirit, get smart with your holiday organization. Here is how you can prepare to handle the clutter before and after the holiday season:


The holiday season is full of wonderful moments: dinners that bring your family and friends together, warm fuzzy feelings when your loved ones open the presents you worked so hard to find and the anxious anticipation of the new year’s fresh slate of possibilities.

Unfortunately, those special moments come with a heaping side of clutter. Celebrations bring an abundance of decorations, food and extra seating. Gift-giving means hoarding a ton of presents and wrapping supplies in every closet in the house. The new year turns into a game of hide-and-seek with all of the new stuff that your home isn’t equipped to hold.

Don’t let a lack of storage space dim your festive spirit! Get smart with your holiday organization. We’ve compiled tips to help you prepare to handle the clutter before and after the holiday season:

Before the holidays:

Out with the old.


The holiday season comes at the end of the year, making it the perfect time to go through your home and cut out any unnecessary clutter to make room for all of the incoming clothes, toys and decorations.

“When preparing the home for a party, resist the temptation to throw everything into a laundry basket to stuff into a closet,”  Melinda Massie, CEO of Organizing With a Side of Fabulous says. “It feels quicker but it doesn’t solve the problem, as our best-laid intentions of dealing with it later almost never happen. Instead, take advantage of this opportunity to let go of anything you don’t need any more.”

Set aside what you or your children no longer need. Your son outgrew last year’s jacket and your daughter no longer plays with her Lego set; those things could make an impact on someone else. Work together as a family to see what you can donate.

Pre-holiday time is also best spent clearing out the refrigerator. Throw away anything that’s expired. Double-check recipes and take note of what ingredients you already have so you don’t buy double. Whether you need to prepare for a four-course meal, are making a dessert for a neighborhood party, or plan on taking home your fair share of leftovers, chances are your fridge can’t handle the extra volume without a thorough shakedown.

Make a gift list, and check it twice.


You spend a lot of time (and money!) finding the best gifts for everyone from your mailman to your spouse. Stay on top of it all with a gift tracking list.

“It’s always a good idea to make a list of the gifts you plan to purchase (and anything you have already purchased),” Amy from 11 Magnolia Lane says, “so that you don’t hide something and forget about it, or of course inadvertently leave someone out.”

To get started, download a gift tracking list, like this one from IHeart Organizing, or make your own. Make sure it includes:

  • Recipient
  • Gift
  • Where to get it
  • Budget
  • Actual price
  • If it’s wrapped
  • Where it’s stored
  • If it’s been mailed/given

Not only will this keep you on budget, but it’ll help you track where everything is stored. This technique is especially helpful to parents with small children, since it can be easy to forget where their presents are hidden (you have a lot on your mind!).

Master the wrapping battle.

wrapping paper

‘Tis the season for paper cuts, ribbon burn and tape dispenser scratches. Gift-wrapping may be stressful (and apparently a little violent), but it’s worth it to see your loved ones’ faces as they rip their presents open.

Avoid any extra drama by preparing and fully stocking a gift wrapping station. Even if you’re short on space, you can create a simple yet effective wrapping station in all different shapes and sizes:

  • Wicker clothes hamper: Fill with paper rolls and gift bags. Use hooks on the side to hang bags filled with the rest of your supplies.
  • Repurposed suitcase: Take a large suitcase and lay down wrapping paper inside, using pockets and zippered areas to keep everything else in place.
  • An old stool: Flip a stool upside down, giving you an open space surrounded by the stool’s legs. Fill it with wrapping paper rolls, and hang the rest of your goods from the sides.

Be sure to fill it with an abundance of wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, scissors, tape and labels — you can always use whatever is leftover next year!

Be the hostess with the most(ess) space.

holiday table

As any seasoned hostess can attest, entertaining can get messy real quick without the proper amount of planning. Dodge any last-minute clutter surprises by covering all your bases beforehand.

  • Seating: Keep track of how many guests plan to attend, and prepare the appropriate amount of seating. This may mean rearranging your layout, which is why it’s better to figure this out beforehand rather than the day of.
  • Entryway: Grandma probably won’t feel very welcomed if she trips on your family’s shoes on her way in the door. Move your clean, dry shoes to another room and leave out bristled mats or pebble boot trays to contain your guest’s shoes and the messy winter slush that comes with them.
  • Overnight stays: In addition to giving your guest room (and bathroom) a good cleaning, you’ll want to prepare for your guest’s belongings. Put away anything you wouldn’t want your aunts and uncles rummaging through, giving you the privacy you’re looking for and the space they need for their clothes, towels, and toiletries.

After the holidays:

In with the new.

gift receipt

Once the holiday season is over, you and your family will be left with a ton of new clothes, toys and electronics (and probably some junk no one really needs). Before acclimating it all into your home, though, take a moment to look over your new inventory.

  • Is there something else you wanted? If you don’t like it, you might as well exchange it for something you really need.
  • Do you want to donate it? Do you really need another scarf? Maybe someone else could use this more than you.
  • Are you seeing double? If you already have the same thing, or something too similar, chances are you can get rid of one of them.

Keep the greetings going.

card holder

Instead of stashing your family’s holiday cards in the attic, try one of these fun and organized ways to enjoy your family and friends’ photos and happy wishes all year round:

  • Hole punch: The DIY Playbook suggests hole punching each of your cards and sliding them all through a ring, allowing you to flip through them one by one.
  • Photo album: You don’t need to be a scrapbook guru to display and protect your holiday cards and photos. Buy a photo album and use it to hold your cards, keeping them with the rest of your photos album collection and keepsakes.
  • Scan them: Keep digital copies of your cards by uploading them to your computer — either with a scanner or even by simply shooting a photo with your mobile phone — allowing you to easily access them long after the season has passed. Organize in folders by occasion and year.

If you choose to get rid of your cards, consider donating or recycling them. St. Jude’s Ranch for Children collects used cards and turns them into new cards made by children and volunteers.

That’s a wrap.

“After the holidays are over, take the time to properly store your holiday decorations,” Melinda says. “If they’re not properly stored, they can get damaged through the year. Separate all of the decorations and pair like with like. Toss out anything damaged or that you don’t love.”

Follow these tips for simple holiday storage:

  • Candles: Store delicate candles in paper towel or toilet paper rolls (depending on length). Wrap them in paper towels to protect the candle, and then slip it inside the roll.
  • Tree: Once you break up your artificial tree, make sure you store it in a clean, dry place off the ground. If you choose to store your tree fully assembled, consider investing in a tree storage bag to keep it protected.
  • Lights: Bypass detangling your light’s next year by wrapping them around a stiff piece of cardboard before putting them in a tub.

“Take note of what was missing from this year’s decorations so you can get them for next year,” she adds. “Then carefully pack everything up, maintaining like with like. Not only does this protect your decorations through the year, but it will also make next year’s decorating efforts much easier.”

Label, label, label!

storage labels

Nothing is worse than spending hours digging through every single storage tub in your basement, only to realize what you’re looking for has been in a box in the garage the whole time.

To combat this, include a card on the outside of each storage bin, like the one pictured from Just a Girl and Her Blog, detailing what’s inside. If there are multiple containers for one thing — ex. the tree — make a note of what order they should be opened in. You can get as fancy as downloading or creating your own printable storage labels or opt for a simple version using just a permanent marker.

Labeling also comes in handy when it comes to your receipts. Create and label a separate folder or envelope for each family member, filling it with any receipts you have bought or gift receipts you’ve used from friends and family. This will allow you to easily exchange or return things for the right person.

Holiday organization have you feeling down?

Is your home lacking the space you need to handle everything you need this holiday season? Don’t let that ruin the most magical time of the year. We have the solution: self storage. Life Storage offers a variety of storage options to protect even your most delicate belongings. Ask us about our storage unit rentals or visit our website to find a convenient self storage location near you.

About the Author

Molli Spear

Molli is an expert in all things related to moving, storage, and home organization. She graduated from Niagara University with a Bachelor's degree and spent several years of her career in the self storage industry. As a mother of three and a stay-at-home mom, Molli knows how difficult it can be to stay organized at home when things are feeling a little cramped. That's why she contributes to the Life Storage Blog.

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