5 Secrets for Organizing After Christmas


About the time the tree comes down and the decorations are put away is when I start thinking of my New Year’s resolution…usually something along the lines of: SIMPLIFY and ORGANIZE! To me that means focusing on our calendar, our home, and our lives in general. After a few days off of work and a couple weeks off of school, organizing after Christmas can feel impossible.

1. Embrace the Mess

You probably don’t want to be stepping on Legos and climbing over piles of toys forever, but your whole family may benefit from embracing the mess in the weeks following the holidays. Empty Amazon boxes can make an awesome fort and tissue paper can be a fun, impromptu indoor snowball fight.

While your kids are busy enjoying their new toys or getting creative with the boxes they came in, find a moment to enjoy a cup of coffee… before it’s ice cold! Your New Year’s resolution to declutter your house can wait a few weeks while you embrace the wonderful chaos.

2. Find a Home for the New Toys

When you’ve had your fill of presents taking over your house, it’s time to find a home for the new toys. Organizing after Christmas doesn’t have to be a job for the parents after the kids are sleeping. Enlist everyone’s help. If you like using baskets, consider labeling them so your kids can easily see what goes inside. At the end of the day, remind them that everything should go back to its home.

I know I’m not the only one who has frantically thrown everything in the closet a few minutes before guests arrive. However, when organizing after Christmas, finding a home for the new gifts should be purposeful. If you shove everything in a closet or toy box, it’ll be hard for your kids to find what they want when they want it.

If you aren’t sure where to begin, watch how your kids play with their toys. For example, if they always have a tea party with their stuffed animals, it makes sense to store these two categories of toys together. If the Magnatiles and marble run are always used together, is it worth your time to separate them into different storage containers at the end of the day? 

3. Start a Toy Rotation

While you’re watching what your kids play with, you might notice some toys get a lot more play time than others. One way to begin organizing after Christmas is by implementing a toy rotation. Old favorites can feel fun and new again if it’s been a while since they’ve been played with. 

If you start to notice some of the toys are never requested, it may be time to consider their value in your home. When something was expensive or has sentimental value, it can be hard to part with it. Consider your reason for keeping toys that aren’t bringing joy to your children’s play.

4. Get Serious About Purging 

My favorite way to declutter my house is with the pile method – a pile to keep, sell, and donate. If things are broken or worn out, you may also want to add a trash or recycling pile. When my daughter was young, my husband and I would go through her toys a few times a year and set on the couch the things we didn’t see her playing with very often. Whatever was left on the couch after a weekend was put in a bag for a few weeks. If she wasn’t missing it, it was time to share it with someone who could get more use out of it.

Purging can feel incredibly overwhelming. It’s best to tackle this either by room or by item category (books, toys, clothes, etc.). Don’t try to organize your entire house in a weekend. I like to purge in small, frequent doses. You could even set a timer and make a game out of it. 

Depending on the ages of your kids, they can be pretty involved in the purging process. It’s a great opportunity to talk about the cost of stuff compared to the value received. This is also a chance to talk to kids about keeping things while they have value or bring you joy. My daughter was hesitant to declutter her bookshelf, but when I told her we could share her “baby books” with our neighbor’s younger son, she was thrilled that someone she knew would be enjoying them as much as she did when she was little.

Timing matters if you’re looking to make some money from your purging effort. I’ve learned that organizing after Christmas isn’t the best time if I plan to sell items to the kid resale shops in our area. Parents everywhere are overwhelmed with new presents in January. This means everyone is organizing and nobody is buying new stuff. If you can make time to purge in October or November, you might be surprised by how much money you can make selling toys that are in good condition.

5. Focus on What Matters

If you find your kids’ Christmas wish lists growing longer and longer each December, it may be time to have a family meeting and reframe what really matters. 

If you ask an adult what their favorite holiday memory is, they’ll likely describe time with family or special food. Talk to your kids and see what they remember about last Christmas. If you haven’t created any special traditions yet, share ideas for what could be fun next year. The time together is far more valuable than the trendy toy of the year.