5 things everyone should get rid of on New Year's Day – why this quick clean-up is essential

Getting rid of these five things on New Year’s Day is essential to restoring order immediately after the holidays

A white and cream kitchen with neutral and wooden decor on the counters
(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

New Year’s Day is about gathering with family, relaxing after the holidays, and recovering after eating too much over the last week – so decluttering may be the last thing on your to-do list.

However, professional declutterers are urging us to consider tackling five spots on New Year’s Day to help keep our homes calm and avoid chaos during the holidays. 

This is why decluttering on New Year’s Day is essential, and how to work it into your festive schedule.

5 things everyone should get rid of on New Year's Day

Of course, when we talk about decluttering on New Year’s Day, we are not talking about decluttering a closet or cleaning out your kitchen cabinets. Those can be left for the rest of January. Instead, the focus is on smaller items that we come across on the day anyway, and are easier to clean right up than leave for later. The priority is to enjoy your day, not stress about clutter. 

With that in mind, these are the five things to get rid of on New Year’s Day for a great start to the year.

1. Holiday cards

Berry Garland Christmas Card Holder against a white wall.

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

Although it can seem callous to take your holiday cards down on the first day of the new year, they are one of the biggest sources of clutter at this time of year, says Shannon Krause, professional organizer and founder of Tidy Nest.

She recommends saving the most sentimental cards with your holiday decor (only if you know you will put them out again next year), and recycling the rest – either popping them in the trash or cutting the fronts up to make holiday gift tags for next year.

‘While the cards that you receive are lovely, they rarely serve a purpose after the holiday season. We suggest parting with them after each holiday,’ she adds.

Shannon Krause
Shannon Krause

Shannon Krause is a Certified Professional Organizer who holds a specialist certificate in Brain-Based Conditions from the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and is a Certified Reiki Master which she incorporates into her work with clients. Tidy Nest has helped dozens of clients bring order into their lives and has won local awards recognizing their work. 

2. Things you are giving up in January

Pantry lighting

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

One of the most important January decluttering rules is to get rid of anything you want to give up in the new year to help you avoid temptation, says Laura Price, professional home organizer and founder of The Home Organisation:

‘If you’re a fan of Dry January or Veganuary, it’s a good idea to rid your cupboards and fridge of any vices, so you start the month off right and don’t get tempted later on.’

If the items are still in good condition, then try not to trash them and give them away instead. Food and drink can be given to friends or family members not partaking, or donated to shelters if it is unopened and non-perishable.

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.

3. Packaging from gifts

christmas presents

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you didn't tackle packaging on Boxing day, then now is the time to get it out of your home once and for all while also dealing with any remnants of New  Year’s celebrations such as streamers or confetti, says Millie Hurst, Solved section editor at Homes & Gardens. 

‘You should aim to complete your post-Christmas decluttering by the end of the first week of January,’ she adds. ‘So start with leftover boxes, bags, and wrapping paper on the first to make your home instantly look cleaner.’

millie hurst news writer
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. Millie has written about and tried out countless cleaning and DIY hacks in the six years since she became a journalist, and has worked in both London and New York. 

4. Old paperwork and to-do lists

Home office painted in Farrow & Ball Dead Salmon

(Image credit: Julie Soefer/Marie Flanigan)

'New Year’s Day is a great time to sort through and recycle any old post, newspapers, and magazines that have been festering over the Christmas period,’ says Laura Price, professional home organizer. 

While you’re dealing with paper recycling, pick up any old calendars and to-do lists that are lying around your home too, and replace them with new sets ready for the new year.

5. Leftovers you haven’t touched


(Image credit: Future)

One way professional home organizers reset their homes for the New Year is to focus their attention on their kitchen – specifically decluttering a pantry and cleaning a fridge

While you don’t need to commit to a deep clean on New Year’s Day, take some time when you go for lunch to clear out some of the old leftovers from Christmas that haven't been touched. Remember to look right at the back for anything that has been lost or forgotten about so it doesn't turn bad.


How do you stay organized in the new year?

When setting the goal to stay more organized in the New Year, gather some organizing inspiration to help you visualize what you want your home to look like, and write out a plan of how to get there. 

This could involve making a list of storage items you need to make tidying easier, identifying areas you need to declutter, and writing out a schedule to remind yourself to tackle certain areas of your home throughout the year – even putting them into your calendar as events if needed to help you stay on track.  

Why should you clean and declutter your home at New Year?

Cleaning and decluttering at the start of a New Year is symbolic of cleaning out anything bad from the previous year and starting the new one off on the right foot. For many, cleaning and cleansing their homes at the beginning of a new year can drive away bad energy and bad luck, and welcome more prosperous energy into the space.

Of course, if you are someone who likes to start your New Year off right away with a fresh start, it might also be a good idea to start organizing Christmas decorations for storage on the first too. Work one room at a time to help clear away the holidays, putting the smaller decor away first and leaving the tree until last so that it is at the front of your storage to be put up first in 12 months' time.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.