150 friends and readers joined me over the past six weeks on the Pre-Christmas Purge Challenge. It has been so fun and SO helpful! We systematically moved through six clutter zones in our homes (bedroom, closets, bathroom, toys, paper, and kitchen) and got rid of the unused junk sitting around collecting dust. I started my purge several weeks before the official challenge began, so I’ve been in purge mode for about 3 months now. Through the process, I’ve learned a lot about clutter. Today, I’m sharing my four biggest take-aways with you! I hope they help you on your journey to less stuff.

  1. You don’t have to say “yes” to every hand-me-down. So much of the stuff I purged was given to us by some well-meaning, thoughtful friend or relative. Hand-me-downs are wonderful, and I love to be on the giving AND receiving end of gently used items. But if you’re being offered a box of stuff that you can’t use, it’s okay to say “no, thank you”. It can feel difficult to say no when someone is being generous – here are two ways that have worked for me recently:- “Wow! This is so much stuff! I so appreciate your generosity, but I’m not sure we will be able to put all of these clothes to use. Would you mind if I passed some of these things on to another friend if they don’t work out for us?”

    – “Thank you so much for offering that box of baby toys! I am so thankful that you thought of us, but we don’t have very much space for this kind of stuff. These toys are so cute, I hope you can pass them on to someone who can really use them!”

  2. Shop smart. Wow. This one has been huge for me. I have shopped VERY differently since I started purging everything. Every time I start to pick something up off a shelf, I have a mental image of myself throwing that item into a trash bag in another year. I have definitely fallen for every consumer trap out there. Going forward, I’m planning to implement a few strategies into my shopping trips to help keep me from falling back into old ways.- Making a list for every shopping trip (even if it’s just jotted down into the notes section on my phone while I sit in the parking lot of the store) and sticking to it- Only buying in bulk when I will actually use the entire supply in a reasonable time period. Bargains aren’t really bargains when you end up throwing half of the stash in the trash in 6 months.

    – Skip the sales. No more browsing the clearance aisle unless there is a specific item I am looking for.

    – Carefully considering the value each item will actually bring to our family’s life before purchasing it. Is this item going to impact our lives significantly enough that it is worth the clutter?

  3. Organization really does play a role. I had the idea when I started this that simply getting rid of stuff would make our home instantly and perpetually tidy. Not so. We still kept a majority of our stuff, and that stuff all needs to have a place. My purge is complete (except the kids’ rooms – I never made it up the steps!), but I still need to work on getting some good organizational systems in place in a few key areas to keep the stuff we kept neat. The areas of our home that have been purged AND organized run so efficiently now.
  4. Make it a lifestyle. The six week challenge was a massive overhaul. It was like our home had been in a car wreck and needed to be sent in to the body shop to be put back into shape. But we’re gonna keep driving this baby, and it’s going to need some maintenance. A great idea I heard from a friend is the “one in, one out” rule – any time you make a new purchase, purge a similar item. For instance, if I buy a new shirt, I need to choose another to donate. I’ve started keeping a laundry basket in the corner of my bedroom closet for items to be donated. Whenever it gets full, I just take it down to the thrift store and start again fresh.

If you didn’t join in on the purging fun but are itching to declutter before the new year, you can access the Closet Purge Guide here!

Purge on, my friends!