The colder weather brings with it a seemingly overwhelming desire to start to prepare the home for the new season. I believe it to be a deeply embedded evolutionary trait handed down for our survival when we were in caves making sure we were ready for when resources would be scarce.

In modern times, our thoughts about winter will vary considerably, but it does bring a spike in enquiries about how to have the home ready for guests coming for Christmas, and making the best use of kitchens and supplies. But for some it is also about how to manage this season that can remind them of lost loved ones, or the dark weather bringing extra mental and physical health challenges.

We are mindful that decluttering is not just about the stuff, and our focus is bringing new hope to a season that can bring joy and reflection in equal measure.

We have just two tips on how to handle the festive season and one is deeply practical and the other is emotional.

The Food Cupboard 

Let’s start with the practical tip: reach out all your food and drink out from the back of the cupboards. It gives you a chance to see what needs using up, and maybe that will add a few extra meals before the ‘big stock up’ that is typical in our human disposition at this time of year. We do tend to shop as if we are preparing for a three month hibernation, so lets make room for the treats and festive feasting.

It enables a quick clean round the back of the cupboards, and in putting items back you can organise your supplies, make them visible, and so create a shopping list that is based on actual requirements and not just intuition or habit. So many clients routinely buy the same items when they have not exhausted existing stock, and that is when items can go to waste. Take a look, like with like, and make a list from that evidence.

This time of year we sort a lot of kitchens, and always conduct this project mindful of a person’s needs and own thoughts on out of date food. Our mantra is that if it has 2015 on it, not only is it out of date, and maybe not good for you, but that crucially you do not use that item in your food preparation. Maybe it can go and then make space to be able to see the supplies you do use more frequently, and avoid any accidental over stock. Though food may be thrown away (we do our best to recycle the cans, tins, and jars, but do be pragmatic), it will save wasted food in the future.

Each person has a different relationship with cooking, and catering for others, so we consider that. This is not our home, it is yours. But we are often chatting to our clients about how they cook now, not 10 years ago. If you no longer cater for  huge numbers of people at a time, and do not spend hours with elaborate recipes, then it will affect what kitchen items and ingredients you require. Again, it is all about making space for the items that make your life easier and more enjoyable now and in the future. We try not to consider it a loss but making room for the new and exciting. Plus, no one wants to go to pour a guest a drink and find it is vinegar or go to the effort of making a cake with the out-of-date baking powder and find it doesn’t rise. Decluttering saves effort in the long run.

Family and Friends

This is the time of year when we try to catch up with family and friends more than ever. Christmas starts to be considered in October with festive gifts and treats appearing on the supermarket shelves.

Christmas, and the winter season can be challenging for some as they are reminded of those who are no longer with them, or personal challenges juxtaposition against the expectation to be jolly. 

Families come in all configurations and dynamics and are as varied as the thousand homes we have been into. Their relationships with belongings, and memories also vary considerably within the family.

It can be difficult to bring up subjects like sorting keepsakes, or whether the grown-up children would like to start to take some of their personal items to their own homes. Is it time to look through the boxed belongings of someone who has passed a create meaningful keepsake boxes?

Some families will have someone who will not be sentimental and feels like the whole project can be done in an afternoon and a set of bin bags. Some families will have someone who will not entertain the idea of anything being touched, looked at, reviewed or changed.

This is the time of year to start those conversations about parameters for sorting that suit you and where family may be useful to take your project forward at a pace that suits you. Or perhaps introduce a neutral professional service, like ours, to be able to see both sides but can offer middle ground.

You are welcome to arrange a call for a free, no obligation consultation on 07739455310.

You may also find my book Being Owned: A Decade in Professional Decluttering at Amazon or Waterstones online a real encouragement with poignant stories of people engaging with their belongings.

The quote below is taken from my Amazon reviews – you can find more on our website here.

My wife has spoken to Jasmine on the phone with a view to working with her, and she comments that this book echoes the caring and empathy which Jasmine demonstrated in their conversation and which is also evident on her website, and reflected too in reviews from clients there. Alongside her psychological acumen and compassion (Jasmine has a degree in Psychology and Counselling, and a postgraduate certificate in Change Management), Jasmine clearly is also hugely knowledgeable and creative at a practical level about the care and organisation of objects, and ideas about the layout of homes, and can offer this gently as possibilities to clients as they move forward towards their goals, while letting them keep control of the process, whether they are decluttering, downsizing prior to a move, seeking to enjoy their home more, coping with other life changes or simply being able to live safely day to day. As Jasmine says, stuff can have such power over everyday life. Each story of Jasmine and her team’s work with each client in the book highlights a different facet of the many factors which can contribute to a problematic relationship with ‘stuff’, and triumphs in overcoming that, and it’s easy to identify with parts of what’s depicted and to gain from those insights. This deeply humane and compassionate (and beautifully written) book is highly recommended if you want your life to be less cramped by the ‘stuff’ in your life, or wish to understand more deeply those who struggle with their relationship with ‘things’ and what they represent – and to discover possible ways forward.