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I find that most of my decorations are for events and holidays in the months of October, November and December. Every year during these months, as I drag my decorations out, I inevitably see the same ones that I don’t use, and I leave them in the same box to go back into storage for another year.

As I look at them, most have no sentimental value, so why should I keep them to gather dust and take up space when someone else could enjoy them?

Ironically, I teach a class about decluttering for people in the community. I never really thought about it specifically as it pertains to me and my holiday decorations until this fall. So let’s talk about decluttering and some ways to attack your things, whether they be your decorations or other items you are wanting or needing to go through.

No one goes through life without accumulating stuff. And too much stuff contributes to clutter and disorganization.

If you answer “no” to these questions, then it is clutter:

— Do you use it or even like it?

— Does it have a “home”?

— Can you repair it or fix it?

When deciding what to do with an item, ask yourself these questions:

— When was the last time I used this? (Decide what your own acceptable time frame is: 1 month, 6 months, etc.)

— How often do I use it?

— Where do I use it?

— Do I have more than one of them; do I need more than one?

— Is it usable? If so, will I ever use it again?

— If I didn’t have this item, would it even impact my life?

— Could someone else use it?

As you ask yourself those questions, you can sort your items into piles so you can move them along. The easiest way is to have large tubs, containers or laundry baskets to sort your items. Once you have decided you are not keeping an item for yourself, is it worth keeping for someone else to use? If not, then decide if you are pitching it or recycling it. If it can be used by another, you will need to sort it into donating, selling or gifting piles.

The easiest to move out of your house are donating and gifting piles. It feels good to know others can benefit from your items. However, you can make money off your items with a little effort and time, if that is what you choose.

There are many benefits to decluttering. Managing your clutter can even help you manage your stress. With less clutter, you save time finding what you want, need and use. It can also save you money when you make it a habit of only buying what you need and you aren’t buying a replacement of what you can’t find.

Managing clutter can reduce fire and safety risks when things are not piled or stored improperly. For some, decluttering can improve relationships if people fight over the clutter in the home. As clutter is moved out, there is more space and we simply feel better about our living environments.

If you are looking for places to donate, there are many local places here in the community that take donations. Please don’t forget places like libraries, schools, long-term-care facilitates, churches, veterans organizations, etc., when looking for a place to make a donation.

Think about the items and who could benefit from them or put them to good use. It is always good to call first and not just load up and plan to drop off. Happy decluttering!

For more information on family-life-related topics and programs, visit the University of Illinois Extension website at web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/ or contact Chelsey Byers at 217-333-7672 or clbyers@illinois.edu.