Here’s how to get Christmas decorating under control and keep your season looking merry and bright.


No-Clutter Decorating Tips for the Holidays

Here come the holidays! Time to break out the giant inflatable snow globe and string your house with enough blinking lights to illuminate a small city. In 2011, reported that “Americans will spend a whopping $6 billion on Christmas decorations”. It was, they noted, the highest amount ever recorded by the National Retail Federation. This amount has been trending upward year after year and, despite the still-sluggish economy, 2013 will most likely be another record-breaker. Add in the gifts, goodies and those holly jolly sweaters, and you’ve got all the elements for world-class clutter. Here’s how to get Christmas decorating under control and keep your season looking merry and bright.

Clear the Decks Before You Deck the Halls

Decorating diva Andrea Dekker offers a day-by-day “Clutter Free Holiday Countdown” that includes this excellent advice before you buy a single gift or put out a single scented candle: purge what you already have first. She recommends that you go ruthlessly through closets and drawers and get rid of everything you “don’t need, want, use or love.” Not only will this give you a clean slate to start with, you’ll have room for hiding gifts. Dekker also reminds us that this is the season for giving. Your pre-decorating purge is a great time to make your end-of-year donations of usable clothing and household goods to a local shelter or charity. 

The Right Stuff

Professional home organizer Jennifer Ford Berry says the best time to deal with Christmas décor clutter is when you first get the bins out of storage. Berry says, “When you pull something out of the bin, keep only what you actually love. If you don’t love it, get rid of it right now.” That way, Berry says, you won’t be unpacking the same smashed Santa year after year.

The content team agrees. “Because you’re not looking at your holiday stuff all year long, it’s very easy to just overlook a broken item in the packing or unpacking process… Take the time this year to get rid of actively broken things. You may be surprised how quickly that reduces your clutter.” Better to keep and display just a few items and family heirlooms that really keep your holiday memories alive and let the rest of it go – ideally to a seniors home, a children’s hospital or a shelter where it will be cherished like new. 

Keep It Simple

Cynthia Ewer, the editor of, recommends you focus your decorating on what she calls “the big three” – the front door, a tree and the fireplace or coffee table. “Hang a wreath on the door, decorate a tree, and create a pretty tablescape over the fireplace and you’ve hit the holiday high points without having the burden of a tree in every room,” Ewer says.

Christmas Decoration

If You Must…

Okay, you’re thinking, “That’s all good advice, but I really want to put out my entire collection of ceramic Christmas villages, toy trains and international crèches. How do I pull that off without creating a cluttered mess?”

Simple. Put everything that doesn’t scream “season’s greetings” into a self storage unit. Then group like items together. For instance, if you have a collection of Santas, mass them on a mantel or a tabletop, displaying them at varying heights to create visual interest. Conversely, give a single item, like the Christmas tree or heirloom nativity set, more importance by making it a focal point. Or, this year, concentrate on a theme and only display things that are a certain color or from a certain era. Next year, you can rotate in something different. It will be like having old friends come to visit for the holidays – a nice surprise.

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