The best 7 places to declutter before Christmas – make room for making merry

Adding ‘declutter’ to your pre-holiday prep list ensures a relaxed festive season. These are the places to prioritize, according to the pros

scandi living room with wood panelling and festive decor
(Image credit: Future PLC)

With so much to sort ahead of the festive season, the last thing you want to be doing is adding more to your to-do list, right? We see your point, but believe it or not, decluttering before Christmas actually makes for a far less stressful run-up to the big day, and makes the post-holiday clear-up a whole lot easier, too. 

Don’t panic, we’re not saying you need to declutter the entire house, absolutely not! The hotspots professional organizers always declutter for the holidays are those that you, and your guests, are going to spend the most time in as well as anything that you’ll need easy access to. It’s also worth freeing up some space for potential gifts; do this ahead of time and you’ll be able to clear up fast after Christmas Day, which makes for a much smoother transition into the New Year.

The best places to declutter before Christmas 

To make things easier, we’ve devised a generic list of the best places to declutter before Christmas, as well as some corner-cutting tips on how to do it, all expert-approved of course. 

Don’t put it off, the sooner you get it done the better – keeping these spaces clutter-free, comfortable, and easy to use is the key to a relaxed, enjoyable, and smooth-running Christmas.

1. The entryway

Christmas hallway with wreath on wall

(Image credit: Future / Polly Wreford)

Clutter doesn’t make for a particularly festive first impression, let’s face it. Organizing an entryway so there’s space for your belongings, as well as those of your guests, makes for a much warmer welcome. 

‘Tackle the coat closet if you have one, removing outerwear and shoes you don’t use every day somewhere else, at least temporarily. Leave a couple of hooks free for extra coats and position a couple of baskets at the bottom for guests to drop hats, scarves, and shoes into. You could also put one next to the front door for gifts, leaving everyone hands-free for greetings,' says Jennifer Ebert, editor of Homes & Gardens.

If you’re dealing with a small entryway, you might want to consider removing non-functional furniture for the festive season, particularly if you’re incorporating extra Christmas hallway decorations or temporary entryway storage ideas

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jen is the Editor (Digital) of Homes & Gardens online. Before starting this position, she had completed various interior design courses at KLC Design School, as well as working across Ideal Home, LivingEtc, 25 Beautiful Homes and Country Homes & Interiors as an interiors writer.

2. The guest bedroom

Christmas bedroom decor ideas with green floral panel

(Image credit: Polly Wreford/Future)

If you’re anything like us, your guest bedroom doubles up as a dumping ground for all those things you’d rather ‘deal with later’, but if you’re hosting overnight visitors across the holidays, ‘later’ becomes right now.

A cozy, relaxing space is the end goal, so start by removing any non-bedroom-related items, including anything techy. Declutter a closet or dresser so there’s space for guests to unpack their things – if there are items in there you haven’t touched since last Christmas, put them aside for donation. If you’re still short on space, consider investing in a hanging cubby organizer like this one from Target, that you can hang from a closet rail.

‘I love to welcome friends and family into my home by adding thoughtful touches, such as holiday decor, luxury toiletries, goodwill notes and anything else that might help them feel at home,' says professional organizer Meredith Goforth, founder of House of Prim.

Don’t forget the bathroom, either; organize a bathroom cabinet so there’s at least one shelf free, and remove any personal products so it’s a neutral space.

Meredith Goforth
Meredith Goforth

Meredith Goforth has a passion for stylish organizing. Before founding House of Prim, Meredith was a Bookings Editor for magazines, where she planned, produced, and executed cover shoots and fashion stories, making sure every detail was picture perfect. A former New Yorker, she now lives in Westport, CT with her family. With three boys being born within three years of each other, and having moved house six times in five years, Meredith says the only way to stay sane was to become truly organized. 

3. Food storage

Walk-in pantry with double doors opening onto a breakfast station, with shelving on the inside of the doors

(Image credit: Liz Caan/Eric Roth)

Christmas is a time for indulging, so you’re likely to have a lot of extra food in, whether you’re hosting guests or not. Organizing the refrigerator is a good place to start – do it in tandem with organizing a freezer so you can move items across if you need to, and give both a good clean while you’re at it.

While a good clear-out pre-Christmas is useful, you’ll need a plan in place if you want to keep up clutter-proof habits throughout the festivities. 

‘A decluttered, well-organized fridge inspires me to want to cook, plus I can keep an eye on things that are about to go off. Grouping ingredients into categories and labeling leftovers makes it even easier – have some zip lock bags to hand so you can whip them into the freezer if you need to,' says organization expert Lauren Allen, founder of Not a Boring Box

The same goes when decluttering a pantry. Once you’ve removed unwanted items (be sure to donate within-date items to your local food bank), stock up on seasonal larder essentials and introduce extra pantry storage ideas, such as bins, risers and under-shelf baskets, to increase capacity and keep shelves clutter-free. 

4. Kitchen countertops

cream kitchen with marble island and wooden seating

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re organizing a kitchen in readiness for entertaining, you’ll need as much surface space as you can get. You’ll want it looking neat, too; guests will end up in the kitchen, whether you want them to or not, so the less there is to tidy away, the better. 

‘It sounds counterproductive, but if you want to clear space on your counters, start by organizing kitchen cabinets that are hard to reach. Items you find in there are often bulky and less-used; getting rid or moving them outside of the cooking zone will then free up temporary space for those countertop items you use more regularly,' says Kate Ibbotson, APDO member and founder of A Tidy Mind

5. Kids’ toys

Getting children to part with toys isn’t always easy, but they’ll likely find it a whole lot easier knowing Santa’s on his way soon! Take the opportunity to free up some space in their toy storage ideas in readiness for anything new, as well as promoting generosity and sharing. 

‘Encourage your children to participate in the decluttering process by having them choose what toys they no longer want or have outgrown. It’s a great opportunity to explain the concept of donating toys to children in need, and allowing them to feel good about their part in the process,' says Meredith Goforth.

According to cleaning and organization expert Michelle Hansen, owner of Practical Perfection, decluttering toys before Christmas has the added benefit of providing present ideas. ‘You can filter wish lists a little to focus on items they don’t already have, and include practical items as well – a new coat to replace the one they’ve grown out of or a new set of coloring pens, for example’, she says. 

Michelle Hansen
Michelle Hansen

Michelle Hansen is a cleaning and organizing expert, and owner of Practical Perfection. She has been a professional organizer for four years and has organized for Instagram influencers such as @jordanpage and @modestshopping. Michelle loves to help others see (and feel) the life-changing difference that having an organized home can make in their lives. 

6. Gift wrap supplies

christmas presents

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Getting organized for Christmas means having rolls, ribbons, bows, bags and boxes in abundance, but before you go stocking up, take the time to assess your existing gift wrap supply. Even once you’ve discarded offcuts, chances are you’ve got more than enough already!

7. The linen closet

‘Organizing your linen closet is a sensible idea pre-Christmas – it’s so much easier to grab and change sheets between guests if you're not rummaging through a huge mountain of tatty or mismatched items! Get rid of any towels or sheets that are past their peak, then bundle bedding sheets together with matching pillowcases folded into sheets and duvet covers,' advises professional organizer Laura Price, founder of The Home Organisation.

Laura Price
Laura Price

Laura Price is the owner of The Home Organisation. Laura Price's goal is to help others experience the benefits of living an organized life after discovering that organized homes brought her peace when raising three children in a hectic home. Hence the birth of The Home Organization, a dedicated team of professional organizers.


Should you declutter before or after Christmas?

Ideally, you’d want to declutter before Christmas, in preparation for an abundance of gifts – and guests – making their way into your house. Not just that, but a clutter-free home makes for a much calmer, more relaxed mind, something we could all benefit from at this time of year!

Having said that, there are a few post-Christmas decluttering rules to abide by if you want the house in tip-top shape before the ball drops – there’s bound to be a few holiday clutter hotspots you’ve missed, so it makes sense to have another whip around.

'Decluttering before Christmas is not only about creating a visually pleasing space but also about making room for the joys of the holiday season – decor, food, and gifts too, if you’re lucky! It's also an excellent opportunity to give back, by donating items to those in need’, says Karina Toner, Operations Manager at Washington DC-based cleaning company, Spekless Cleaning.

Contributing Editor

For 10 years, Tara King worked as a Content Editor in the magazine industry, before leaving to become freelance, covering interior design, wellbeing, craft and homemaking. As well as writing for Ideal Home, Style at Home, Country Homes & Interiors, Tara’s keen eye for styling combined with a passion for creating a happy – and functional – family home has led to a series of organization and cleaning features for H&G.