Christmas Can Be Expensive; But it Doesn’t Have to Be
Christmas can be so expensive. Presents, food, and other fun can really add up! Not to mention if you’re traveling for the holidays. One area you can easily spend upwards of $100-200 for a family of 4 is stocking stuffers. I’ve seen store advertise $20 DVDs as “the perfect stocking stuffer”. Ugh – NO IT’s NOT! That needs to be wrapped and placed under the tree with the other presents! I have a maximum of $5 per stocking stuffer but really try to stay under that if I can.
If you don’t know yet, we (the hubs and I) are always trying to save money on “stuff”. We would prefer to spend our money on memories, activities, and vacations – not items that sit around collecting dust. So this year I went to the Dollar Tree for stocking stuffers and in years past I have also used the 99c Only Store. You can even view the Dollar Tree catalog and weekly ad online! Below are dollar stocking stuffers I found for all members of the family. If you haven’t wrapped up your Christmas shopping yet (I love puns!) then head to a dollar store near you and stuff some stockings on the cheap!
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Men:
You might be under the Impression that there is no way you could fill a stocking up for your husband or even older teenage son at a dollar store. Well I’m here to prove you wrong. Above are a few of the items I purchased for my husband and brother-in-law for their stockings this year. Below is a list of items you can get for a dollar each! If you buy all 10 items you could fill a stocking for $10 and they would still have a stuffed stocking and you would still have money in the bank!
- Microfiber Car Wash Mitt
- Car air fresheners
- Bungee cords
- Phone chargers
- Shaving Cream
- Coffee Mugs
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Women:
There are a lot of different options for dollar stocking stuffers for the ladies in your life at the dollar store! I was pretty satisfied with my loot (above) and really had a ton of options to choose from. You could easily purchase more items than you need when dollar stocking stuffer shopping for women. Here are 16 items you can get for your mom, sister, daughter, or friends all for only $1 each!
- Hand sanitizer
- Sewing Kits
- Mini Manicure Sets
- Nail Polish
- Mini Picture Frames
- Coin Purse
- Cosmetic Bags
- Hair Brush/Comb
- Tumbler/Travel Mugs
- Festive Hot Pads
- Make-up cases/holders
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Babies:
I don’t have any babies to buy for this year so I don’t have an awesome picture to share. But they have a whole section in the Dollar Tree near me with baby supplies. Putting together a stocking gift “bag” for a family in need this year could be a great way to give this holiday season because many of the items are ones that get used every day such as wipes and wash cloths. These aren’t always off-brand options either. I’ve gotten Pampers wipes in a 20 count pack for a buck. This is a great travel size wipe container.
- Sippy Cups
- Bath Toys
- Plush Toys
- Baby Wash Cloths
- Baby Powder
- Baby Books
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Kids:
There are literally 100s of options for stuffing children’s stockings at the dollar stores! Above are some of the goodies I got this year. YES they have FIDGET SPINNERS!!! My daughters have asked for these and I’ve said no a bunch of times because I didn’t want to spend $15 on a trinket. I’m okay with spending one dollar though! They really have a lot of fun options, last year I purchased puzzles from a dollar store for their stockings – they generally have multiple options ranging from mini to regular sized puzzles with 24-500 pieces. We’ve gotten activity books and bath toys from there as well. Check out these 20 super fun kid dollar stocking stuffers you can get for only a buck:
- Fidget Spinners
- Activity Sets
- Educational Card Games
- Bath Toys
- Small Toy Cars/Trucks
- Small Sport Balls
- Miniature Figurines
- Play Weapons (nunchackus!)
- Jump Rope
- Stuffed Animals
- Dress Up Accessories
- Coloring Books
- Mini Games
Dollar Stocking Stuffers for Anyone:
The gifts below could be given to pretty much anyone. Depending on their interests and lifestyles. I grabbed some candy – what’s a stocking without candy? – and a few odds and ends to round out the stockings I’m stuffing this year. Would anything on this list be useful for you?
- Playing Cards
- More Candy
- Lip Balm
- Dog Poop Bags (for the avid dog lover of course!)
- Sudoku or Crossword Puzzle Books
- Hot Chocolate Mix
Additional Christmas Fun for a Dollar
If necessary, you can also buy the stocking! Plus they have plenty of cost-effective wrapping paper supplies. Why spend lots of money on wrapping paper that is going to be torn to shreds in a matter of minutes on Christmas morning? They have disposable bake-ware to make clean-up easier and paper plates, napkins, and plastic cups to reduce your dish washing needs/water bill over Christmas as well. There are even some really cute ornaments and other Christmas decor available! Check out this post on organizing your holiday decor and wrapping supplies to make sure you stay organized and clutter-free this year.
There is really no reason to over spend during the holiday season. I hope you enjoyed these money-saving tips for dollar stocking stuffers. If you’d like some tips for buying clothing on a budget check out this post. You might add some budget friendly yet stylish clothing items under the tree. Feel free to comment your favorite dollar stocking stuffers below. Don’t forget to sign up for the Newsletter to obtain more frugal living, money-saving, and other budget conscious tips. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
13 Functional Ideas for Your Dream Home
Although theme, style, and curb appeal are definitely things to consider, making your dream home functional is arguably the most important part of planning. All the bells and whistles are meaningless if you can’t use them to make your life easier. I compiled this list for those planning their dream home but also for those who already live in their dream home but could use a little more function in their current space. You can turn all of the must haves into functional spaces with the ideas below.
Built in Ironing Board in Master Closet
Don’t forget to complete the add on with a built in outlet to plug the iron into. A friend of ours has this and says they love it! Who want to trek back and forth to the laundry room or try and find space to set up the iron board some where else inconvenient? A built in ironing board set-up is definitely a functional addition to any home. If it won’t fit in the closet you can also add one to the laundry room and finally get rid of the collapsible space stealing ones!
Give Yourself an Extra Foot
Measure and remeasure space you want for walk ways in areas such at your kitchen, pantry, and closet. Adding a foot to walk-in closet could mean the difference in fitting between your clothing racks or not! A foot in the kitchen could mean having this dishwasher and the cabinets across from it open at the same time for unloading dishes. I’ve been in plenty of closets that look like they have a lot of space only to find that you can’t use all the bars because they overlap or the clothes would touch. Make sure your home is functional by planning for enough space.
Put in a Produce Sink
A produce sink in the island can really give a custom feel to a kitchen. They don’t take up much counter space and it can be a great way to keep germs away from your healthy snacks. You can easily keep your prep areas and clean-up areas separate in your kitchen this way. For a functional kitchen to work like a well-oiled machine it’s important to have separate spaces for prep, cooking, and clean-up.
Put a Closet in the Office
If you are going to have a home office or study. Adding a closet will help it sell in the future because it can be easily converted into a bedroom. The people who purchase your house in the future may have more kids than you. Fun fact: any room with a closet can be considered a bedroom! So plan ahead and put a closet in there. You can use it as a storage space for files, extra office supplies, or really any item that needs a home. Then when you are ready to move it will help your house sell for more money.
Window Seats Where Appropriate
First of all window seats are so adorable! Secondly, they make a great way to add extra functional storage space. These can be added into your plan early on if you are building or you can create your own after the fact or for remodels.
Source for DIY
Guest Bathtubs or Showers?
Consider which rooms need bathtubs, showers, or both. Our guest sweet will be a shower only. We believe that’s a good match because our family and friends that visit are most likely not going to be soaking in our tubs. Also, our parents are getting older and a walk in shower meets their needs much better. Our other spare room (which one day will become a nursery) requires a bathtub for future kiddos. So we still have the options and everyone’s needs (either present or future) can be met in the safest and best functional ways.
Designate an Outdoor Grill Space
You don’t have to plan the entire space until after your house is built. You can always build something with the space you already have as well. Consider future additions you may want to add: pizza oven, outdoor sink, or mini fridge. Of course to make it even more functional you will need outdoor seating as well. We almost forgot about this as we were designing our backyard because we’ve never had an outdoor entertaining space before. We figured we still need to plan to have a grill since we will have a pool and be spending much more time outside at our dream home.
Plan for Home Audio/AV
A built in AV nook may be a great option for you. The hubs wants to wire for speakers throughout the house and found the perfect little niche on our plans to put the AV equipment. He has such a good eye. Also, wiring ahead is way cheaper than going back in after the fact. Being able to hear the game on TV while in the kitchen can make a world of difference for house parties or other events.
In the master and children’s bathrooms at a minimum. My granny had a built in hamper in her bathroom. It makes perfect sense – I don’t know why more people don’t do this! Laundry baskets are an eye sore and don’t do much to keep the dirty clothes out of sight or wrangled. A built-in hamper can keep the clothes all in one spot when you are ready to make the rounds with the laundry basket. Out of all the tips on this page I believe this to be one of the most functional as both a way of organizing and keeping the house clean.
If you already live in your dream home and wish this was an option for you – your wishes have been granted. Check out these plans for a DIY closet hamper..
Many space in your home can utilize a private entrance. A home office, guest suite, and pool bathroom could all function better with their own door. These will allow more privacy for your home and for your visitors. Plus it will help with keeping the house clean (less people/opportunities to bring in dirt and such).
Consider a bigger laundry room than you think you need. My husband swears I need a crafting space in our laundry room. I think he has forgotten who he’s married to because I am not that crafty. However, every year we make at least 1 or 2 homemade gifts with the kids for Christmas. Plus I think he also remembers the mess I tend to create when I do get that crafty buzz going.
My bonus daughters are going to have school projects to complete and crafts that will need places to dry so we opted for a few extra square feet to keep it out of the way and organized. He really does have great ideas y’all! And he appears to know me better than I know myself! A functional space for sewing, crafts, hobbies, and even gift wrapping can definitely be useful.
Walk Thru Pantry
Most homes either have a pantry entry close to the garage or inside the kitchen. We decided to go with both. We figure the least amount of effort it takes to do something the more likely it is to be done (and the quicker). With both doors unloading groceries and cooking both become more efficient and functional. Some call it laziness. I call it genius. Our pantry will have a garage entrance and a kitchen entrance to make it as functional as possible.
Mudrooms are becoming a vital addition to new builds and many current homes are being remodeled to include one. Visit my Ultimate Guide to Creating the Perfect Mudroom for the most comprehensive list of ideas, suggestions, and more. Mudrooms are functional spaces by providing space to keep shoes, backpacks, sporting equipment, coast/jackets, and other daily necessities organized and out of the way.
What was your favorite functional dream home idea? Do you have another option you would add to the list? Leave a comment below if so! Don’t forget to sign-up for my newsletter before you leave.
The Story Behind Why We Decided to Build Our Dream Home
Our personal story.
Your story is probably different from ours – I would love to hear about it in the comments below! I am sharing our story in the hopes that it helps others along the journey to finding their dream home.The decision to build our dream home didn’t come lightly. When we initially starting planning for our dream home we discussed building and even looked into the cost of land, what types of lots were available, and other information pertinent to deciding to build. My husband and I had always wanted to build but something always prevented it such as: we couldn’t afford it, couldn’t find land to build on, etc. So in the beginning we decided that buying our dream home-made more sense and was preferable to building. Building would mean an additional year of living 1 hour away from work (for me), at least another year before we could consider adding to our family, and a whole lot of time and effort spent planning the home. Buying just seemed easier, quicker, and more logical.
Blessings in Disguise
Buying a prebuilt dream home just was not meant to be for us. When our apartment lease was about to be up after our first year in Arizona we went looking for houses. I would guess we visited around 20 houses before changing our minds on what we were looking for. We even put an offer on one we really loved! The offer was not accepted by the owners; which was ultimately a blessing in disguise. After the offer fell through we decided to purchase a smaller, less expensive house we could turn into a rental later. This was one of the best decisions we ever made! Our rental was a perfect little “starter’ home and we were able to save additional money to put towards the real home of our dreams.
The Final Outcome
After our rental we ended up purchasing a house to flip that we moved into. This house is one hour (or often times longer) away from my work location. Initially the plan was to only stay here for 6-12 months. Here we are 2 years later – still in the same flip house. About 16 months in to living in our current house we started looking for our dream home. We searched and searched for 6 months for the house of our dreams. We spent numerous weekends looking at houses, going to open houses, and just driving different neighborhoods. After many unsuccessful hours spent trying to find our dream home we decided again to try looking into building and search for lots instead.
Finding Our Lot
The first day we looked at lots for building we found where our new home was going to be built! Everything fell into place and we knew we could follow our dreams of building. It was like a big shout from God telling us to BUILD our dream home. It only took a few prayers and a couple of serious discussions to determine this was the best choice for us! During our discussion we came up with the reasons below for building our dream home and they’re how we knew building was the best choice for us.
5 Reasons to Build a Dream home
To be completely transparent, some of our reasons are linked directly with my husband’s job. He is a general contractor so our budget for buying and building were very similar (although building was still slightly more expensive due to the cost of land in AZ). Also, secondary to that he can use our custom-built home as an example in his portfolio in the future. However, while these played a role in our decision, they were not in the top 5 biggest reasons we decided to build instead of buy. Of course your spouse doesn’t have to be a contractor to build your dream home! You can still decided to build instead of buy for the 5 reasons I’ve listed below.
Reason #1 – Your Dream Home Doesn’t Exist
Have you been looking for your dream home with no success? Do you feel as if you have looked into every possible resource for buying a home and have still come up empty-handed? Building might be a good option for you if that’s the case! You may find several houses that you could settle for; but your dream home is hopefully a place you’ll live in for decades. No one wants to settle for 30 years!
We couldn’t find our dream home without additional issues or things we didn’t like. I was starting to become frustrated and feeling defeated. We looked a several houses that seemed to fit the picture of what we wanted but they each had something that either concerned us (such as needing a new $30k roof), annoyed us (why were sunken living rooms ever a thing? It’s like you’re asking to be tripped in your own home), or lacked our “must haves”. Ultimately we couldn’t find a house we loved and wanted to make our forever home even though we searched for 6 months. We did find a ton of great ideas that we wanted to incorporate into our dream home; click here to learn how to find awesome ideas for your dream home too.
Reason #2 – You Want it All
A dream home should have all of your Must Haves. You want 6 bedrooms – it needs 6 bedrooms. You want a porch for a swing to sit on and read – it needs that porch! Your Must Haves can be a long list or a short list. They are personal and completely up to you. But your dream home should have each and every one or at least a way to create them if possible.
We are being very picky about our dream home. We want everything on our “must haves” list. Sacrificing something just because someone else didn’t think of it when they built their home just wasn’t okay with us. Planning our forever home has been a year process of discussing, searching, and defining our dreams. Instead of narrowing down our desires this has increased them and caused them to be deeply rooted.
We have big plans for our home. We want it to be able to meet our needs now and wants for the future. Our plans for our dream home include: enough space for out-of-state family to visit, a pool to keep us cool during Arizona summers and entertain guests, and the most amazing walk-in shower we can dream of in our master bath. Prebuilt homes didn’t leave room for our imagination to come to fruition.
Reason #3 – Being Realistic About Remodeling
Some people love to remodel or have house projects. If you are that type of person then you may be able to purchase a home that needs work and turn it into your dream home. This can be a great strategy for those looking to save some money up front. Just be realistic about the remodeling projects and what they might cost. Not only in terms of money but in time as well.
Several home we looked at needed work done or would have to be remodeled to meet our Must Haves. We didn’t want to remodel. Even though My husband’s business would allow us to remodel anything we wanted. We both decided we really aren’t up for redoing a house after moving in. I’m really looking forward to decorating considering I haven’t even hung up a picture in 2 years. But didn’t want to have to deal with a bunch of remodeling projects.
We also learned that some houses just can’t be turned into what you want after spending an hour trying to figure out how we would put pantry in a house that had everything else on our Must Haves list. (Trust me, it wouldn’t have fit. We desperately wanted it to). So if you do plan to purchase a fixer upper, spend some time in the house to make sure your dreams can be turned into reality before signing on the dotted line.
Reason #4 – Time is in Your Favor
Building a house takes time. The building process – from breaking ground to moving in – typically takes 9-16 months on average depending if it’s a custom build or a production build. But that doesn’t include the time it takes to find a general contractor and architect, picking out or creating plans, having surveys completed, and all the other things that come prior to being able to break ground. Plus once your plans are complete but before you can break ground they have to be approved by the city or county you plan to build in. Basically its a lengthy process and you need extra time if you plan to build.
We have time. Although I would love to be closer to work (my 1 hour each way commute means I spend 8+ hours a week driving in 4 days) and I would love to have a functional yard. We aren’t in a rush. Our current home has all the necessities but not all our wants. And if spending another year here means getting all the dreams in our dream home I okay with it. Plus I’m used to sacrificing to reach my goals.
Before deciding to build your dream home make sure you have the extra time before you need or have to move into it. Also, consider the extra time it takes to create plans and pick out paint, flooring, windows, cabinetry, etc. That is also extra hours you will have to be able to devote to planning your dream home.
Reason #5 – It Works with Your Budget
It is important to look at the cost of building versus buying in your area. Land costs vary widely across the U.S. The cost per square foot of a build versus buying prebuilt also differs around the nation. You will want to cost compare and determine what works best for your budget or which you can afford. Sometimes, you may be able to afford either and the other 4 reasons may end up holding more weight for your decision. It’s important to look at the big picture and the long-term outcome of your build or buy decision.
As I mentioned earlier, we knew we could build our dream without increasing our budget too much so the finances were a smaller part of our decision. Then the more we discussed it the more and more building made sense for us. But everyone’s outcome will be personal.
Write Your List of Pros and Cons
A helpful way to discuss whether you want to build or buy is creating a pros and cons list. Many people are familiar with this concept. I would encourage you to take it one step farther and score your pros and cons on an importance scale of 1 (low importance)-5 (high importance). Each items gets a score. You then add up the pros and cons and see which list has the higher number. This can help put your pros and cons into perspective. Here is another post on 5 questions to ask yourself before deciding to build that can also assist with your decision making!
I wish you the best on building your dream home. Please share any additional reasons you found to build your dream home in the comments below!
Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for more home building tips, organizing hacks, home decor advice, and more!
How to Organize Your Home: A Place for Every Item Part 2
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase using my links (thank you!) I’ll earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
As I explained in Part 1 of How to Organize Your Home: A Place for Every Item; every single item in your home needs a resting place. Without a home within your home for your items clutter will start to gather and become overwhelming and home organization will be harder to maintain. Of course some of that clutter may need to go before you get started organizing. For suggestions on how to declutter and purge the unnecessary items in your home check out the 8 week garbage bag decluttering challenge or 12 items you should purge before you move. If you’re ready to start organizing, keep reading!
So I counted once. If you combined comforters, bedspreads, blankets, and throws we have 33 total. We are a 4 person family; I can admit 33 is probably a few too many. Some of them are currently folded and sitting in a chair in our TV room for when we want to cuddle up and watch a movie. I have a light weight and heavy weight one for each bed with the off-season ones stored in the linen closets. Plus we have about 10 that go in our 5th wheel trailer. I’m going to need a place to store them all in our dream home. Currently I’m considering different organization options including: linen closets, trunks, cabinets, and dressers. A nice decorative basket or blanket ladder might work well in the right setting such as a guest bedroom or living room.
Here are a few DIY ideas:
I love this painted cabinet from Fred and Bessie’s
The DIY blanket storage chest below is perfect for a guest room from A Touch of Beautiful
For smaller spaces or budgets try this DIY blanket ladder from Remodelaholic instead
If you are less of a DIY and more of an online shopper. Check out these options from Amazon:
Simple storage baskets can give a homey and decorative touch while also providing function
A nice coffee table with storage underneath or in the middle would also work great.
A great way to keep blankets handy in the living room without feeling cluttered or them ending up on the floor.
For larger spaces and that farmhouse feel consider a cabinet with a sliding barn door for blanket storage
Whats your preferred blanket storage system? How many blankets and other similar items do you have around your house? I will probably purge a few of these blankets before we move since there isn’t a need to have 33 for our small family. Getting rid of excess items is one of my tips for decluttering items you don’t need prior to moving. I will be following my own advice!
Craft Supply Organization
I’m honestly not that crafty. But every now and then I get a wild hair up my bum and decide to make something like this (below) for everyone in my family. I needed wood, paint, nails, string of different colors, and a whole lot of other supplies and tools for this endeavor. I’ll admit I was not very organized during the project.
(Find the round-up from Sugar Bee Crafts here with links to the how-to posts)
During the project and after completion the supplies were strewn haphazardly all over the living room, kitchen table, and back porch for a few months. Leftover supplies got shoved into a drawer or placed on a shelf until my next project comes around and joins them. I don’t think I need some fancy craft organization system but a cabinet dedicated to crafting supplies in the utility room would be helpful. Plus this kids have their paints and play-doh and such that also needs a home to rest. Here’s a great round up of craft supply organizing ideas from Heart Handmade.
Check out this extremely organized crafting closet by Designed Improvised:
If you have room, you might consider a crafting table/storage system in one. You can always build one yourself. But if you prefer a simpler approach Amazon has these as well:
There are all kinds of little boxes for beads, pom-poms, pipe-cleaners, etc. Depending on the types of crafts you enjoy doing you may need a variety of storage containers. Here are a few options to choose as needed.
Holiday Decor Organization
I have an entire post dedicated to organizing holiday decor. Head on over and check it out when you’re ready. There was so much to say and so many ideas I couldn’t just write a paragraph and post a couple of suggestions.
With electronic photos this is easier than ever! Some people prefer to organize electronically and just print a few of their favorite photos out for viewing. If that’s more your style check out these awesome posts for organizing digital photographs: Spring Cleaning 365 Declutter and Organize Digital Photos, The Organized Mama How to Organize Pictures on Your Computer, Simple Scrapper Easy Digital Photo Organization for Non-Techie People. I enjoy using Walgreen’s website for photos. It’s easy to upload and create picture books for different vacations we’ve been on. I also really enjoy their photo collages. If you have old printed photos around consider electronically filing them by scanning them to your computer for better photograph organization.
For already printed photos or if you prefer to print pictures on a regular basis there are some great options for keeping them organized below. Utilized picture frames or photo books and toss those old shoe-boxes! This is definitely an area I need to work on in my own life. Tune my Heart Blog has great advice for How to Organize Your Photos: A System that Works. If you have a photo organizing and displaying system I would love to hear about it in the comments!
One Crazy House 14 Simple Tips and Tricks to Organize Your Photos
There 100s of adorable photo albums to choose from to display your photos. You can also take up scrap booking if you’re crafty and can find the time!
Don’t forget to get some amazing picture frames to display your favorite photos. Here are some options for creating some eye popping photo walls: The Todd and Erin Favorite Five have an awesome picture hanging guide and the Just the Jensen Family has a great DIY gallery wall (see below).
Grab your own frames via the Amazon links below!
Books shelves are obviously the most common and reasonable storage and organization system for books. However, just piling all your books on a shelf in no particular order isn’t very helpful. Consider making each shelf its own category, alphabetizing each row, and donating or re-gifting any books you (or the kids) are never going to read again. I’d like to get a little more creative in my dream home for book organization. I plan to separate children’s books and my books. I really love these organization strategies for children’s books:
Simply Kierste Design collaborated with Oopsey Daisy for this color coded kid’s book organization system
It’s Overflowing has the plans to make this awesome Wall Mount Bookshelf for kid’s books storage
For more sophisticated spaces and those of you that have just as many books as your kids check out these options for organizing and storing your favorite books:
Painted by Prestige turned this unused closet into a reading nook
Up to Date Interiors has some awesome advice for decorating and styling your bookshelves so they are cute and functional!
For additional bookshelf storage, styling, and organizing ideas check out this round up by I am Baker and this one on Gurl. For home library inspiration or eye candy here’s a great round up of 15 Stunning Home Library Decor Ideas To Inspire You and another 50 jaw dropping home library design ideas here. If you’re getting the itch to start decorating, styling, and organizing see below for some shelving to help you get started!
A drop zone or command center (check out these ideas or these) is a great place for incoming/outgoing mail, bills that need to be paid, and magazine subscriptions that need to be kept neat. Our dream home is going to have a command center/mail sorter built in to make mail and paper organization easier. Our current home doesn’t have an ideal space for this and we end up using the kitchen counter. I’m really horrible at keeping paper clutter organized and at bay. Hopefully you find these ideas as inspiring and necessary as I do.
One Creative Housewife has a great tutorial for this functional command center.
Jenna Burger Design created this family command center and also has some free printables if you’re interested
These command centers will work amazing for the daily ins and outs. But what about the papers you need to keep? Filing cabinet work great but they need some organizing. Do you know which papers you actually need to keep? And for how long? Modern Homemakers Society has a great post on organizing paperwork. Looking for different ideas? Check out A Cultivated Nest’s post for different tips for organizing personal papers. Make sure to have a plan for decluttering the filing cabinet yearly so it doesn’t over fill. Check out The Federal Trade Commission’s Infographic for when to shred and when to keep personal papers.
Here are some great options if you’re looking to DIY command center style. Don’t forget to look for filing cabinets and other needs while you’re shopping!
Do you love to cook? Do you have several cookbooks that barely get opened? If you’re like me you answered yes to both questions! With the internet and ease of carrying a smart phone around, old fashioned cookbooks just don’t much sense in the modern world. This is a great post by The No Pressure Life on how to create a digital cookbook of all your favorite recipes. Right now I like my current system, but I might try something like that for organizing my favorites in the future.
I find tons of recipes on Pinterest and usually once a year I sit down and pull them into my Pepperplate account. I love Pepperplate because it’s FREE and its both a website and app. The program allows you to load recipes and meal plan, create a grocery list, and organize it all in one place. The recipes will automatically populate your grocery list if you want! It’s super simple to use. Highly recommend it; definitely the best recipe organization system I’ve ever used. If you prefer to print your recipes check out this Printable Recipe Binder from The Pioneer Woman.
I get a new cookbook every year from my mom for Christmas. It’s a tradition that I imagine will continue for a while. I plan to keep these cookbooks and few of my other favorites. I just can’t seem to part with them. Since I won’t be purging these items I’ll need a good system to organize them and the recipes inside when we move to our dream home! I plan on adding the recipe name and ingredients to my Pepperplate account and noting which page the recipe is on and which book its in. That way I can have the ingredient list handy but don’t have to add the directions to the app. If I want to make that meal I can just quickly look up which book and page I need to find the recipe. Here are some great ideas for storing cookbooks in your home:
The 2 Seasons
Deeply Southern Home/Paper Daisy Design DIY Custom Shelving
Board Game Organization
We love board games at our house! They’re super fun to play and make for some great family quality time. I scoured Pinterest for some storage ideas for you because our games currently sit on the top shelf of our playroom closet. The kids can’t even see them much less reach them when they want to play. I need a more kid friendly storage solution. In our previous house we stored them in a hall closet. That wasn’t particularly ideal either because they didn’t fit well and we were constantly moving and shuffling them around to get the ones we want. I added my 2 favorite ideas below but if you need more inspiration check out the Money Saving Sisters round up for starting board games. Because board game boxes are all different shapes and sizes these 2 board game organization ideas made the most sense to me:
Hometalk repurposed ladder
Joyful Homemaking Board Game Storage Tips
Between my first How to Organize Your Home Post and this one I’ve covered 13 different topics. What am I missing? I’m sure they’re are more items that need to be organized. Leave a comment below with your best home organization tips or let me know what items are giving you trouble!
Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for more home organization tips, dream home design ideas, and other home must haves!
Walmart Mom and Proud of It
I dress myself and my kids with clothes from Walmart. I know all the mom’s out there want to identify as Target mom’s with their wine and leggings. But I refuse to pay $8 at Target for a t-shirt my 5 year old is going to ruin when I can get one at Walmart for $3 (or less!). So you can call me cheap, you can call me frugal, but you won’t have to call me broke!
Walmart has stepped their clothing game up over the past couple years. They have some super cute clothes in the kids section and items in the women’s clothes I’ve actually worn to work! Their low prices really can’t be beat when it comes to clothes. Even Goodwill prices are equal to Walmart sale prices and the clothes are brand new at Wally world.
*This post contains affiliate links. I get a small commission at no charge to you if you purchase through one of my links.
Why Cheap Clothes
The average family spends anywhere from 3-6% of their income on clothing each year according to several sources I found (1 How Stuff works, 2 Elite Daily, 3 Forbes). This equals about $1700-$3000 per year on clothes . We’ve never set a clothes budget because my husband and I aren’t really big clothes shoppers. For myself I’ve spent about $300 this year on clothes and shoes. The hubs has spent less – considering I buy most of his clothes for him, I’d guesstimate about $200 and some of that was given as gifts. If you add the kids at $100 each we are up to about $700. The year isn’t over but it’s getting close. I could see us hitting about $1000 since Christmas is coming and I know I’ll be getting the hubs a new, nice pair of tennis shoes. We are definitely coming in under the average. We also plan on keeping it that way.
Cheap clothes make sense for our family. We are an active family. We go camping several times per year and often go quad riding in the desert. My 5-year-old manages to get dirty pretty much any where we go. Seriously, last year she ruined a shirt at the mall by leaning on the escalator and getting grease on herself. That shirt cost me $4. Although I was shocked she managed to ruin her shirt shopping I wasn’t mad because $4 won’t break our bank but if I had paid $14 I probably wouldn’t have been as easy-going about things. Here’s the shirt after the incident:
$4 – Grease stains free! Quickly went from nice shirt to play shirt
When your kids manage to stain or rip clothes pretty much on a weekly basis paying top dollar for clothes can get old really fast. I started buying clothes at Walmart for the kids because my husband and I are on a tight budget saving for our dream home. We needed to have clothes at our house for the kids but didn’t have a big budget to purchase them an entire wardrobe at once. We started slowly but I’ve been shopping the sale racks for 3 years now and have obtained quite the adorable and frugal clothing collections for them.
Shop the Sales
I only purchase clothing from Walmart on the sale racks. I learned this tip from my mom. We always bought clothes for the next year when they went on sale at the end of the season. Did you know you can get shirts, shorts, and leggings at Walmart for as little as $1? I’ve already started buying size 10-12 and 14-16 for when my girls are much older, even though they’re only in 4-5 and 7-8 sizing right now. If I buy just a couple of items in the larger sizes each year by the time they get into that size I’ll have adequate clothes for them. My kids get excited at having new clothes and I don’t have to break the bank to get them items.
All of these shorts cost just $1 each
Buying clothes on sale racks means you have to shop a little more often. I do a brief scan of the clearance racks at least once a month when I’m in Walmart buying grocers or other items. I’ll even slide by the shoes every now and then; I’ve found tennis shoes for the kids as low as $7 a pair and sandals for $3. I’ve also gotten them both $1 flip-flops in the past. For each size I spend about $100 on clothing for the entire year. So if you added up my 5 year old’s 4-5x clothes for all seasons it would equal about $100. You can reach numbers that low buying items at full price.
$7 tennis shoes after being worn camping
$3 nice flip-flops for next summer
Cost of Clothes per Wear
It’s been extremely easy to have full wardrobes for my kids in both warm and cool weather clothes by using these techniques. I do this because I think it’s ridiculous to purchase clothes that will just be worn for 6 months at full price. As a stepmom this makes even more sense because my kids only wear the clothes I buy them half the time. Let’s do some math.
There are 52 weeks in a year. If you wear a shirt every week it will be worn 52 times. But realistically you will own more than 7 shirts (1 per day of the week) and not all of them can be worn year round. So let’s say you have 14 shirts. Automatically you’ve reduce the number of times you will wear a shirt to 26 times in a year. That’s over 50 cents per wear if your shirt cost $15 but less than 20 cents per wear if its only $5.
Kids often outgrow their shirts in 1 year. Occasionally they might get 2 years out of it but we are being realistic here. So your kid at a maximum wears a shirt 26 times before outgrowing it. Why are you paying $15 for that?!? Obviously most kids have more than just 14 shirts in their wardrobes. So if they had 21 shirts they can only wear each shirt an average of 17 times. You get the picture. As a blended family we have our kids half the time. Meaning our 21 shirts can only be worn about 9 times. That could drastically increase the cost per wear for us. At $2-3 these shirts are $0.20-$0.30 cents per wear for my kids.
Shirts ranging from $2-3 each
Plus kids clothing, no matter how well-made, will sometimes get ripped or stained. Again, why pay big bucks for something that can’t be resold or worn as a hand-me-down?
Budget Clothes with Top Dollar Style
We have play clothes and nice clothes. Play clothes are worn camping or to play outside and around the house. Nice clothes are worn less often but donned for going out to dinner or to birthday parties. Most nice clothes eventually become play clothes but occasionally they last and can be given away. My budget for play clothes is $3 an item or less. My budget for nice clothes is $5 an item or less.
Although 90% of my kids clothes come from Walmart they still look cute and put together. The other 10% come from grandparents or friends. Here are some outfits they’ve enjoyed this year. All the examples below were purchased at Walmart.
Outfit came together $5 or $2.50 per item
Shirt $3, Skort $3 Totally adorable
Top $3, Capris $2
Shirt $3, Pants $5 (I splurged on the pants)
Outfit came together $7 or $3.50 per item
My girls are 2 years apart. I definitely keep clothes the oldest has outgrown until the youngest can fit into them! No need to buy a whole new wardrobe 2 years later. I also take the clothes my youngest has outgrown to a friend I work with whose daughter is 1 year younger. Some of the items I purchase are getting worn by 3 kids! That’s definitely getting my moneys worth. A few items don’t make it to the next person in line each year due to holes or rips. But my friend at work still takes the clothes if they have stains. She says she likes it because she can let her daughter wear those clothes for painting or playing outside and it doesn’t matter if her daughter gets them dirty or ripped.
Walmart Women’s Clothes
While less of my wardrobe is from Walmart than my kids, I have found some cute options. I buy all my under tanks there (tank-tops I wear under other shirts). Usually for $1-2 each. I’ve gotten some dresses recently for $5 that are nice enough for work (see below). I’ve also purchased workout clothing and my own “play” clothes for camping. I grabbed a couple of long-sleeved tees at the end of lass winter for camping for only $3-5 each. They’re comfy and I won’t be frustrated when they get muddy or smell like campfire.
$5 Dress (Looks great with a white under tank and black leggings)
$3 Long-sleeved tee
$5 Casual Tank
8 Tips for Sticking to a Clothes Budget
Obviously not ALL my clothes or my husband’s clothes can come from Walmart. However, we can wear our clothing for more than 1 year! I have clothes in my closet that I’ve had for 10 years. So It’s okay with me to spend a little more on staple pieces. I still have guidelines I go by. To save money and not break the bank with clothing purchases here are some tips:
1) Only shop sales racks
You should NEVER pay full price for clothes! I cannot even remember the last time I paid full price for clothes. There is absolutely no reason to do so. If you find something you love, wait until it goes on sale. This also gives you time to consider if you would really wear the clothes or not. Aside from Walmart clearance racks, other places I purchase clothes at reduced prices from include our clearance Dillard’s center (where everything is already marked down and they often do store wide additional 50% off sales), Ross Dress for Less, and occasionally Kohl’s. My husband recently got a pair of swim trunks from Kohl’s for $4.60 and I got 2 pair of shorts for $3.60 each.
2) Only purchase clothes you need
When I go clothes shopping I usually looking for specific items. For example, last year I needed some new dress pants since all of mine were 5-10 years old. I went shopping with my mom for a girls day and bought about 6 pair of new pants. We only focused on pants. I didn’t look at every sale rack because I knew I didn’t need dresses, skirts, shirts, etc.
A friend of mine came to visit earlier this year. We hit the outlet mall but I had a plan. I was really only looking for a new pair of jeans and some Yellow Box flip-flops. Knowing ahead of time what I was looking for helped me rein in my spending. It also helped me talk myself out of non-needed items. I bought new jeans, the flip-flops, and ended up with a couple other items but didn’t spend over my budget I’d given myself for the day.
3) Give yourself a budget per clothing item
In addition to an overall clothing budget, consider budgeting per clothes item. For example, I won’t spend over $15 for a shirt or pair of shorts, $20-30 for pants, and $40 for dresses. At certain stores it’s even less. That way going in to it I have an idea of what I’m willing to spend. If I find an amazing dress on the clearance rack that still $70 I’m not getting it. To me it’s not worth it to spend that much on something that doesn’t get worn very often. The only thing I ever spend more than $100 on are running shoes and my wedding gown.
4) Don’t buy clothes just because they’re on sale
I think this is wear a lot of people mess up. Just because something is on sale doesn’t automatically make it a good deal or mean that you should purchase it! I’m speaking from experience here. I have shoes in my closet for example that I NEVER wear. I bought them on sale because they were cute, but I didn’t have any actual plans to wear them and they hurt my feet. This was not a good purchase. Whether or not you purchase clothes on sale if you spend $100 you spend $100, no matter how much you saved. So regardless of whether it’s on sale or not, don’t buy things you don’t need or in reality won’t wear. This quote from The Minimalists says it all:
5) Consider online clothes shopping
Shopping on-line can help you avoid the temptations of items you don’t need. But only if you don’t browse the website and take the advice above by only looking at items you need. Surprisingly Amazon actually has some kids clothing that fit in the price ranges I’ve found a Walmart. You just have to do a little digging. I found these adorable outfits:
6) Avoid getting attached to brands
I’ve heard moms complain about their kids’ desires to have specific brands of clothing that are out of their family’s budget capabilities. We need to teach our kids by leading by example from an early age that brand name doesn’t mean much when it comes to clothes. If you are constantly talking about certain brands in front of your kids or making a big deal about that expensive purse you want if can impact the way your kids view money and clothes. I’m thankful I never cared much about brand name growing up but I know many people who struggled because their family couldn’t afford higher priced clothing. Learn yourself that a larger price tag doesn’t automatically give you a better place in the world. Then teach your kids the same thing.
7) Spend more money on essentials
There are a few clothing items that it makes sense to dish out a little extra money for. These include: good, supportive bras for the ladies, quality and supportive underwear for the men, and supportive, good quality every day work shoes for all involved. If your job requires specific clothing that you literally wear on a daily basis such as khaki pants, polo shirts, or scrubs it also makes sense to splurge on some higher quality pieces that won’t wear out as fast. You can spend less on weekend and leisure wear.
A nice coat for those in colder climates can also be worth a bit extra money – but not for kids who will grow out of them the next year. Depending how often you wear them jeans may also be a good investment; but be realistic, if you are only wearing them a few times per month you don’t need $100 jeans.
8) Skip the trends
Buying trending clothing is just plain silly. Unless you plan on wearing it for years, don’t buy it! If you just have to have something follow the tips above and make sure it’s on sale and that you will actually wear it.
Shop Girl Daily has a nice list of 27 ways to save money on clothes, her list includes ways to keep clothing from wearing out as fast and how to find good sales. The Latina Home Maker has 12 tips for saving money on clothes without busting the budget you can check out. Passion for Savings has some tips for finding great deals on kid clothing with her list of 10 hidden places to find deals on back to school clothing.
The Bottom Line
If you want to save money on clothing it’s not difficult. You just have to be willing to shop a places you might not have thought about before and stick to your guidelines. Set a clothing budget and track your spending. Let me know if you have additional budget clothing tips by dropping a comment below.
For more ideas on saving money, home organization, and dream home design sign up for my newsletter below!
Wasted Space to Avoid in Your Dream Home
Some fads come and go; some become classic styles. Sometimes it’s time for those once classic styles to be traded in for something more functional. Some classic home features no longer fit in modern life. These classic features often lead to wasted space in your home that serves no purpose. Wasted space includes areas of your home that don’t get used frequently, are larger than necessary, or serve no function. I’ve rounded up 5 of the largest areas of wasted space in most homes. As you search out your dream home or design and build your dream home consider avoiding these 5 wasted spaces.
~This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from these links you will not be charged extra but I will get a small commission.
Why should you be concerned with wasted space? Well, for one all the square footage in your home has to be heated and cooled which cost money. Additionally the spaces need to be decorated (wasted money), cleaned (wasted time), and maintained (wasted time and money). Our dream home will have over 4000 square feet. BUT we are very concerned with making sure that we have ZERO wasted space in our floor plan.
Why would you spend your hard-earned money for wasted space? Extra square footage that’s only purpose is to be empty and unused is not something you want in your dream home. So here are 5 examples of entire rooms of wasted space not to include in your dream home and how you can save up to 700 square feet of wasted space.
1) Ditch the Formal Dining Room.
Wasted Space Saved: 200 sq ft*
Via This Old House
Be honest. How many times per year do you use a formal dining room? I would guess most people use theirs less than once a month. Typically they are saved for holidays or other special occasions. Use that square footage instead as an extra bedroom, a home office, or a walk in pantry. Get rid of the wasted space of a formal dining room and make your space work for you
Check out this post from The Turquoise Home on turning a formal dining room into a playroom. Here’s a before and after from their tutorial:
I grew up in a house with a formal dining room. I have no memories of utilizing this room for it’s intended purpose; eventually it became a storage room.
We have a formal dining room in our current house (a flip we moved in to temporarily). Our formal dining room serves as a junk room for now, where extra things hang out that we are saving for our dream home but don’t have a set place for in our current house.
Most homes have an eat in kitchen that can serve as your dining area. New builds are often created with one large great room that includes the dining room, family room, and kitchen all in a single giant room. The preferred set-up for dining options and to eliminate wasted space would be an all encompassing great room.
Here is a great example of a great room from Proverbs 31 Girl. You can read all about a cabin remodel she did on her site. It’s a beautiful rustic, yet inviting design.
Newer builds can opt to have larger “breakfast areas” built into the great room instead of having a completely different formal dining room. Having an open great room allows for better fellowship with guests as well. No one is hiding or waiting alone away front the hosts. Formal dining rooms are wasted space.
2) Let Go of the Formal Living Room
Wasted Space Saved: 330 sq ft*
Nearly everything said about formal dining rooms apply to formal living rooms as well. We don’t use them efficiently, they cost additional money to furnish, and they tend to collect junk instead of memories. A home with a formal dining room, formal living room, and a casual family room averages about 900 square feet dedicated to these spaces; compared 500 square feet in a great room that has all of these spaces in one room. (click here for source).
Source: For the Love of a House
While they look beautiful, they typically don’t get much use. I don’t know about you, but my family is not fancy. We don’t need a separate fancy room with fancy furniture to fancily sit on that just ends up collecting dust. Living rooms are basically parlors and should have been done away with once we got indoor plumbing.
Growing up, both at my house and my grandmother’s house, the ONLY time I remember using the formal living rooms were during Christmas and hide-in-seek. We always set the trees up in these spaces at Christmas. So for 11 months of the year the formal living room sat empty so we could enjoy it for 1 month. The formal living room also held our piano – during piano practice a few hours per week it was utilized. A piano could easily be placed in another space or if used often; a formal living room could be remodeled into a music room. But it seems a bit wasteful for such a large space to only be used for piano practice and Christmas celebrations.
Don’t fall into the trap of wasted space in a formal living area. There are many ways you could utilize that space in a more efficient way. Consider a game room, home theater, library, or music room instead depending on your families interests. There are a ton of options for remodeling formal spaces into more functional spaces or just leave them out of new home plans completely.
Check out this home theater DIY from Jenna Sue Design
3) Forget Extravagant Foyers
Wasted Space Saved: 100 sq ft
There are houses that have foyers as large as a bedroom. Our current home has a 154 sq ft foyer, that’s about 100 sq ft more than I would prefer to sweep and mop! Large foyers are a total waste of space and also a money pit. Your foyer only needs to be large enough for a small bench and standing room for about 4 people. Any larger and you will just be looking at wasted space that honestly serves zero purpose other than to look pretty. This one from Southern Weddings is just right.
Meredith Teasley Photography www.meredithteasley.com
Great rooms that blend the foyer into the room are also nice option. No need to have an entirely separate space to decorate. Just add a table and mirror on the wall with storage space underneath for shoes and such. This optimized entry way from House Tweaking is amazing, check out the link for a tutorial.
Now if you plan to turn your foyer into a mudroom that’s a different story. Check out my Ultimate Guide to Creating the Perfect Mudroom for some design ideas and tips. Many people prefer the mudroom to be off the garage though, not the front door. So you can always have an amazing mudroom but still need to address your foyer space as well.
Due to some house designs you may have to have a small foyer area. For example, we will have a foyer because our front door will open into the middle of a hallway and without a small foyer space the design didn’t flow. But we kept it just large enough for a table against the wall with a picture frame or mirror above it. Shoes, coats, purses, etc will be placed in the mudroom off the garage entrance. Most of our guest will end up coming through the garage doors (where our driveway leads) instead of the front doors anyway.
4) Bye-bye Extra-Large Bedrooms
Wasted Space Saved: 50-100 sq ft per bedroom*
We spend 1/3 of our life sleeping. But we don’t need a large room for that! Especially for Guests or kids. You may choose a smidgen above the traditional 10×10 but there is really no need for a 16×14 guest room or nursery. All they do is sleep in there!
There are a ton of great posts out there with ideas on how to decorate, organize, and manage small bedrooms. Here’s one from the Debrief about small bedroom hacks. Home BNC has gathered 18 of the best DIY Murphy bed how-tos to maximize small room space. Marble Buzz has 45 ideas for small bedrooms; check out the post for info on storage tips, built ins, hideaways, and other ideas for a small bedroom design like these two below.
We decided to splurge on our master bedroom because we are set on having a space to set up seating in our room. However, it’s not necessary and depending on your home budget you could definitely easily enjoy a master bedroom oasis in a smaller room. Designing your dream home is all about figuring out what will work for your family. Check out this post from One Kindesign on small and beautiful masters.
5) Give Up the Guest Room
Wasted Space Saved: 150 sq ft*
Hear me out. For some of you guest rooms are wasted space, for others they may be well utilized. Be honest with yourself. If you only have someone using your guest room a couple of weeks per year it’s not an efficient use of space. Consider turning it into a multi-use room by combing guest bedrooms with home office or a home gym. Little Victorian has this awesome home office/guest room combo below.
We absolutely have to have an extra bedroom due to nearly all our family living out of state. We average about 3 months total of guests staying in our home. However, when no-one is staying at our house I still plan to utilize this space. My dream is to have a Murphy bed in the guest room so I can use it as a home gym for the majority of the year. I use free weights, resistance bands, DVDs, and a stationary bike at home. So I don’t need a ton of equipment space in the room but I will need enough room for a yoga mat and to be able to do a full burpee without hitting furniture. Reena Sotropa has an awesome home gym/bedroom combo in her portfolio.
This Murphy Bed would work great in a home gym or home office:
*Wasted space saved estimates were all obtained from the National Association of Home Builders. They are just estimates and could be more or less depending on the size of the home.
Bonus Idea: Wasted Space Under Stairs
There are many other areas in your home that can become wasted space. A popular wasted space area people have started turning into useful and functional spaces is underneath stair cases. Consider using under stair space as storage, a bathroom, a dog kennel, or a mini playroom.
Via Level Building Projects
Via Well-Made Heart
Via Ethan Abramson
Via Thrifty & Chic
A quick search on Pinterest will give you ideas for extra shelving in closets, making use of awkward corners, or installing shelving between wall studs. You can maximize space in your kitchen by installing baseboard drawers or use the space above your staircase for a playroom. The ideas and possibilities are endless. Aim to utilize all the wasted space in your home. Drop a note in the comments to let us know your wasted space turned functional tips!
If you want more tips on building or designing your dream home – sign up for my newsletter below!
Organizing and Decluttering Your Home: Holiday Decor Edition
The fall holiday season tends to be a time of year that most people accumulate more items. This makes it the perfect time to evaluate the items you already have! It’s also a very sentimental and emotional time of year for many. I have designed this post to help you see your excess holiday decor for what it is: clutter. Also, I’ve provided for you a step-by-step guide on how to evaluate your items, how to get rid of what you don’t need, and how to utilize and store what you love.
*This post may contain affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you purchase from the links provided.
I am going to share 6 steps for decluttering, storing, and utilizing your decor. The idea is to keep the best items and purge the rest. This process may be difficult for some of you, but I believe in you and I know you can come out feeling free on the other side. I will be brutally honest with you but for this to work, you will have to be honest with yourself.
You will consider how some items might bring joy to other people’s homes and re-gift or donate some of your decor. This might be a great gift for people who lost many of their possessions in the hurricanes or fires recently. As they rebuild their lives they may be wanting to have some type of normalcy for their kids this Christmas. You can also consider giving old decorations to a senior center, homeless shelter, or other non-profit facility to brighten up their holiday season.
Is Your Holiday Decor Out of Hand?
Many of you have way more holiday decorations than you need. Honestly only so many ornaments can hang on one tree. What’s that? You have multiple trees?! *face palm*
When I started working on this post I searched Pinterest for helpful links I could share with you like I always do. I was saddened by how many decor storage posts there are with people having 10-20 (or more) totes of holiday decor they’re storing. How many memories could have been made with the money spent on those decor items? Could the family have had more fun together instead of shopping for holiday decor? How much time is wasted sorting, finding, re-boxing, etc every year that could have been spent being more productive or making more memories?
It can easily get out of hand. For example, I once knew a lady who had 7 Christmas trees each with their own theme and set of ornaments. She lived in a small condo that had limited storage. She literally rented a storage unit so she could store her Christmas themed decor for 11 months a year to enjoy it for 1 month. That’s $1200 a year to STORE items for 30 days?!? That doesn’t include the initial cost of the decor either. I know a lot of other things I would rather spend $1200 on each year than buying or storing Christmas decor.
This topic hits home for me because growing up my family had too many boxes of Christmas ornaments to count. It always felt a bit overwhelming each year. I remember wondering as a child why we had so many ornaments and only one tree to hang them on. We could only use about a quarter of the ornaments in our home each year. We used our favorites like the Hallmark Crayola Ornament series and some handmade items and passed over many others. I understand not using glass/breakable ornaments with young children in the house but if you have cats or dogs that tend to rummage through the Christmas tree and you’ve spent years avoiding your glass ornaments – it’s time to get rid of them.
The Joy of Christmas Decor
There is a Christmas movie about an ornament named Noel. Noel has a special Joy to spread each Christmas. As the years past and Noel’s owners grow old he gets put away and forgotten for many years. I remember the story as Noel getting sadder and sadder every Christmas as he and the other ornaments stored with him start to lose their shine and luster. He actually never loses his hope or joy. But this made me sad as a child for all our extra ornaments that sat in boxes year after year. I thought they probably felt like sad and forgotten and that would tug at my heart. The movie has a happy ending but most of my family’s ornaments did not. In fact, nearly every single ornament from my parent’s stash and my grandmother’s stash are still in their boxes and haven’t seen the light of day in about 10 years.
I want you to become determined not to buy items that will not be used for their full potential. I realize inanimate objects don’t actually have feelings but if you take the approach of “is this item serving its intended purpose or not” it can help you when trying to declutter your home. Don’t just consider its overall usefulness, consider its usefulness to you. As in, do you actually use it? If not, it’s time to get rid of it! Let it be useful to someone who will actually use it.
I also understand the sentiment behind many Christmas (or other holiday) items. Maybe it was your first set of ornaments (I gave mine away because I bought them with an ex) or your child made it when they were 5 (but now they’re 35 and it hasn’t been placed on your tree in 10 years). How precious can an item be to you if you never enjoy it? We’ve all heard the stories of saving something for a special occasion that never comes. Let’s aim to make every holiday special and joyful.
Use the China, hang up the precious ornaments, and put out the antique decor. If something gets broken and least it lived its last days serving a purpose instead of collecting dust. Live by this:
Your home is a living space, not a storage space. – Francine Jay
I know I’ve mentioned Christmas a lot because that’s the biggest holiday for our family. For others its Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, or even Fourth of July. I’m not trying to convince you not to decorate. Of course putting up the tree or having the annual Easter egg hunt is important and creates many amazing family memories. All I’m asking is for you to not let the things become more important than your family or the reason the Holidays even exist in the first place.
We have some family friends who have a patriotic themed sitting room. I love the idea! Take your favorite Holiday and enjoy it all year. Put up your American flags and red, white, and blue decor up and keep it up. There’s no need to stop enjoying it just because July 4th has passed (or Memorial Day, or Labor Day). This could work for any holiday if you have a parlor, sitting room, or formal living room to decorate.
Time to get down to business.
First of all, it’s time to get honest with yourself and purge your excess holiday decor. What does having all of those items bring you? Frustration? Difficulty? Clutter? They’re supposed to bring you joy. Items are meant to be used, looked at, or loved. They can’t do any of those things sitting in a box.
Declutter Decor Step 1: Gather
Bring out your entire stash of holiday decor. ALL OF IT. For each holiday. Put it all in one place so you can see how much you have accumulated over the years. You can organize by holiday but all decor items need to be viewed during this process. Don’t skip anything because you “know you use it every year” or what not. Include things like:
- Christmas ornaments
- Stocking hangers
- Indoor and outdoor holiday lights
- Christmas tree skirt
- Holiday themed blankets, pillows, or other bedding items
- Centerpieces for each occasion
- Easter baskets
- Easter eggs
- Other Easter Decor
- Wall decor
- Table top decor
- Floor decor
- Door hangers, wreaths, etc
- Yard Decor
- Display items
- Front porch decor
- Linens, potholders, hand towels
- Soap dispensers
- Plates, serving trays, glassware, etc
- Candles, potpourri, vases
- Flags, banners
Declutter Decor Step 2: Contemplate
Now that everything is out in the open it’s time to go through it and actually declutter. Make sure to lay eyes on each items. Don’t put an entire box of ornaments in the keep box without checking for broken ones first. For additional decluttering Ideas check out this post from Overwhelmed to Organized Blog on decluttering holiday decorations. Although I love the KonMari method of decluttering, I believe with Holiday decor we have to be a little more hardcore with our decision-making. There will be many items that bring you joy that you will need to remove from your stash. A sentimental attachment to a holiday decor item is not a good enough reason alone to keep it. Here are 11 questions to ask yourself when deciding which items to purge:
Declutter Decor Step 3: Sort
Step 2 and 3 go together. As you contemplate your items and make your decisions sort your items into their respective boxes. You will need a box to: keep, donate, re-gift, or trash boxes. Here are some tips on which items should go in what box. If it is…
- Sentimental, brings you joy, and you use it every year – keep! If it’s sentimental but you NEVER use it – Get rid of it!
- No longer your style or doesn’t fit your overall home theme or current life but can still achieve its purpose – donate or re-gift!
- Still functional and can still serve its original purpose but you don’t like it or have a use for it: Re-gift to grown children, a friend you know would love it, or person in need.
- Broken, damaged, no longer in working order, or otherwise useless – Throw it out!
Declutter Decor Step 4: Take Action
After you’ve given you’ve done the first 3 steps, you actually have to follow through with your decisions! Take the trash box(es) out immediately. No going back for second looks. Move the donation boxes to the trunk of the car and schedule a time within the next week to drop them off to their specified places. Consider donating holiday decor to local nursing homes, hospitals, churches, non-profits, schools, or homeless shelters. Always check with locations in your area before dropping items off. Of course you can always donate to places like Goodwill or Salvation Army as well.
Decide who you are going to re-gift items to and sort them accordingly. These need to be gifted during the current holiday season/year. No putting them in boxes and storing for another 5-10 years! Go ahead and wrap them and write names on them. Don’t give yourself a chance to change your mind. You can even mail them this week for early presents. There is no reason to wait for the specific holiday. Let your friend or family member know you were thinking of them any time.
Declutter Decor Step 5: Organize and Store
I wanted to focus on helping you let go of the excess instead of sharing storage hacks for holiday decor. There are hundreds of blog posts out there on the matter like this one on Smart ways to store holiday decor and this one about decluttering and organizing holiday decor using the KonMari method. But I realized you will probably need a few tips and tricks to help you prevent a recurrence of an overload of holiday decor.
You will need to create a system for decor storage that works for you. Storage systems should be created with ease of access, organization, and re-storing in mind. I highly recommend clear storage containers or open storage so you can actually see the items you have. This can help prevent bringing duplicates into the home and also makes it easy to find what you are looking for when the time comes to decorate. I also recommend smaller storage containers. Although I currently use full-sized totes/bins I realize now that they’re hard to maneuver. Some get to heavy or break because they have too much weight stored in them.
Here are some options for storing Christmas decor:
Real Simple Holiday 112-Count Ornament Storage Box
Simplify – 500 light storage tote with 5 Cardboard Winders
Simplify Set of Two 24inch Wreath Bags
Give Yourself Decor Limits
Determine and set some guidelines on the amount of holiday decor you think is acceptable to keep in your home. Give yourself a limit of how many bins, totes, baskets, or boxes you will keep with holiday decor. I honestly don’t know a realistic number. You might start with reducing the number your started with by a certain amount if you felt you had too many or you could guesstimate how many would be realistic over the next few years. You may have five totes for one holiday and only half a tote full devoted to another holiday. The distribution doesn’t have to be equal.
Also consider your current storage space. This may determine how many totes you can keep. Review it and check how many totes will fit, you may find that you cannot have more than 10 total. Also consider if you have existing shelving or if boxes/totes will be stacked. You may want to change your current system if you are stacking 5 boxes on top of one another meaning to get to the bottom box it requires a lot of work! Also, you’ll want sturdy storage containers if you’re stacking them instead of placing them on shelves.
How you arrive at your limit will be individual, but you must have a limit! This step is vital because we often buy additional decor items after holidays are over when they go on sale. If you continually bring new items in though you’ll just have more to store and will run out of space. Don’t fall victim to this! If you’re bringing more in; some must go out! Make a plan to review your decor items every year as you decorate and re-ask the questions above to determine if you should keep it or not.
General Storage Options
Sterilite 19849806 18 Quart/17 Liter Ultra Latch Box,
Clear with a White Lid and Black Latches, 6-Pack
IRIS 5 Quart Stack & Pull Box, 10 Pack
Remember, if you replace or get a new turkey platter for thanksgiving, then donate your old one. If you purchase new Halloween door decor this year; consider re-gifting lasts years. No one needs 6 Christmas wreaths when you only have 1 front door!
Pick a Storage System
How are you going to organize for easy access and re-storage? Make sure to keep these tips in mind:
Store like items with each other (table decor with other table decor for example)
Store each holiday’s items together (Halloween items stored with Easter items doesn’t make sense)
Label storage bins by Holiday
List the items in the container
I Heart Organization has a great detailed post on organizing and storing holiday decor. Her post includes a free label printable. You can also easily search pinterest for different ideas like using egg-crates for ornaments and zipper bags for your own handmade storage options.
I didn’t include organizing wrapping paper in this post because it’s not just used for holidays. But if you would like advice on organizing and storing your gift wrap supplies check out my post on organizing your home.
Declutter Decor Step 6: Decorate!
Finally, you will need to create a system for decorating. Decorating systems should be created with a calendar of events in mind. When will you bring out those Easter decorations? Will you put up the fall decor after Labor Day? Make a plan to use it. You can place this plan as a reminder in your phone, write it in a bullet journal, or add it to your wall calendar. Just make sure it’s somewhere you can see it and access it. This may be a good plan for you but feel free to add or delete any Holidays as needed for your family:
Valentines Day: Feb 1st – Feb 28
St. Patrick’s Day: March 1st – Weekend after St. Pat’s Day
Easter: Weekend after St. Patty’s Day – Weekend after Easter
Memorial Day: May 15th – Weekend after Memorial Day
Fourth of July: June 15th – Weekend after July 4th
Labor Day: August 15th – Weekend after Labor Day
Halloween: October 1st – Weekend after Halloween
Thanksgiving: Weekend after Halloween – Friday after Thanksgiving
Christmas: Friday after Thanksgiving – Jan 1st
If you don’t have a plan, it will sit in the box for another year without being able to bring anyone joy or serve its purpose. Trust me, my Easter decor never made it out this year. Mark it on your calendar and make a family event out of it. If you notice that you constantly forget to decorate for a certain holiday it may be time to part with those particular decorations.
What other holiday decor decluttering, organizing, or storage advice do you have? I would love your feedback in the comments below.
Sign-up for my Newsletter to receive more organizing, home decor, and tips for turning your house into the home of your dreams.
For more home organization tips check out: How to Organize Your Home: A Place for Every Item Part 1 and Part 2
How To Organize Your Home: A Place for Everything
*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase from the links provided I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
When buying or building a dream home you often picture your items throughout the house. What would your couch look like in the living room? Will your bed fit between the windows in the master? You walk through homes decorating them in your minds eye. It’s normal, natural, and fun! But we often don’t think about how we will organize our belongings.
Don’t get me wrong, of course you’ll make sure your home has a great walk-in master closet and plenty of storage in the kitchen. But what about your holiday decor or the kids sporting equipment? Where is that going to go? The garage some where of course. Okay, what about gift wrapping supplies? Clothing the oldest has outgrown but the youngest still has a year or two before they’ll fit into them? Your suitcases? Your crafting/sewing/painting supplies? Do these things all have a place as well? They’re about to!
Declutter Before You Organize
There are many, many blogs and books about decluttering and purging items from our homes we don’t need, use, or that don’t bring us joy. I’ve written some myself! If you’re still in that stage of your journey to organize your home then check out my posts on decluttering a garbage bag a week or this list of 12 items to declutter from your dream home. Many people just like you have found them helpful places to start. I’m still not done decluttering my home but I’ve been making some progress! Since we are building our dream home from the ground up I am simultaneously purging junk and designing storage for things I plan to hold on to long term. This got me thinking this week about how I wanted to organize the items we are moving with us to our new home. I knew I was going to have to have a plan or my new house would end up like my current one.
Organize Your Home
Maybe you’re in the same boat as me. You’ve already decluttered, donated, recycled, and thrown out many items but your home still feels cluttered and messy. That’s because having an organized home requires additional steps. You can’t just get rid of things and expect your house to be clutter free! You have to organize the things you’ve decided to keep.
In her now famous book, The life-changing magic of tidying up, Marie Kondo encourages us to have a place for every item. In her chapter on Storing your things to make your life shine, Marie states:
The reason every item must have a designated place is because the existence of an item without a home multiplies the chances that your space will become cluttered again.
I found that sentence so powerful. Of course my home is always cluttered because I have many items that don’t have a home! For example, I currently have gift wrapping items in 3 different areas of my house: my closet because the extra long rolls of wrapping paper I bought at the end of last year don’t fit in the original tote I bought for storing wrapping paper rolls, in the garage – where the tote resides, and in my “junk room” on a desk because I was too lazy to put the tissue paper I used a couple of months ago back where it belongs! Honestly at this point I don’t even remember the occasion that I got the tissue paper out for in the first place. What I do know is that I obviously need a system for storing gift wrapping supplies.
Are you also struggling with storing items rarely used but that you aren’t going to purchase and throw away every season? I’ve come up with a list to work through to find storage and organizing solutions to prevent clutter in my next home. I hope you find these ideas and tips helpful so you can organize your home too! I’ve included decluttering tips along with organizing advice so we can kill two birds with one stone. This isn’t meant to be an extensive list either. I’ll be adding another list of items in our homes that need a place in the future. But this will give you some areas to get started organizing for now and make sure to check out Part 2 of How to Organize Your Home Here.
Organize Gift Wrapping Supplies
Items that need to be organized in this category: Wrapping paper, gift bags of various sizes, bows, tissue paper, ribbon, boxes of various sizes, scissors, tape, cards, and gift tags. Phew!
First of all, pare down your stockpile to the necessities. Toss/recycle any broken or ripped items that are no longer useful or nice. Be honest with yourself – how many rolls of wrapping paper do you NEED. Have you ever noticed how long wrapping paper lasts? Years typically. Some families like to have a different paper for each person at Christmas to easily identify which presents go to whom. Other families just pick what paper has enough of the roll for the size of the present. Decide on the number of rolls you NEED and then donate or give away the rest. I’ve decided 10 rolls of Christmas paper and 5 rolls of non-specific wrapping paper is all my family needs.
Then go through the same process for bows, ribbon, tissue paper (tip: stick with just a few basic colors and avoid glitter!), boxes, and gift tags. Get rid of the extra or out of date items (your kids are not going to turn 1 again…) and then you can organize the rest!
Tip: For birthdays, baby showers, graduations, etc purchase wrapping paper that is “non-specific”. Examples below. The idea is that each of these sets contain colors or patterns that could be used for a male or female for nearly any occasion! Including Christmas technically so you could even decrease your entire stockpile to 6 rolls. This will save on the total number of items you need overall and pare down your storage space requirements.
I rarely use bows on presents. Most kids aren’t going to notice if you put a pretty ribbon or bow on their gift. It’s more money wasted and more trash created so typically I skip this part. I have a couple of rolls of ribbons and a few bows that came in wrapping paper sets that I’ll be keeping but these items should fit into a tiny storage space. Also, I have quite a few gift bags which our family reuses to save money. I generally toss a couple each year because they get ripped. You can purchase these at the dollar store to save $$$. I should add that tip to my list of 11 ways to save money. One mistake I made with the current way I organize my wrapping supplies is that I really didn’t consider gift bags or boxes which purchasing the tote. I was really only thinking about the wrapping paper itself.
If I could do it again I would consider a system that has a little more efficiency for ALL the items that needs to be stored. One of these options would be a great choice, just make sure to measure your wrapping paper rolls before buying!
Since we are building our new home and are making our laundry room a multipurpose utility room, we’ve decided to include a gift wrapping station as part of the design. I haven’t narrowed it down yet but I’ve found some really great ideas on pinterest. The idea is to keep it organized, easily accessible, and easily re-organized when the task is complete. Some may prefer to hide everything in a cabinet while others may prefer an easier grab and go type approach; or maybe a mixture of both. I do know whichever I choose, I’ll have to make sure to only keep items that can fit and not over purchase just because its on sale after the holidays! These are some of my favorite ideas so far:
Via Morning Start Builders
Via Better Homes and Garden – check out more ideas here!
Via Traditional Home
Once we have our laundry/utility room designed I’ll definitely share! I can’t wait to organize and create a truly functional space for my family’s needs. It’s going to be epic. At least, it will be to me. Speaking of laundry. We need to organize our clothing too!
Specifically clothing that’s not currently being worn. My daughters are 2 years apart. Which means that there is a year between when the oldest outgrows her clothing and the youngest can fit into it. I’m not about to donate and repurchase an entire wardrobe a year later! Most of you aren’t either! So what do you do with those in-between clothing items? I currently have square tote for these items on the upper shelf in my closet. Preferably I’ll have a better system when we move. I do go through their clothes twice per year. Once for spring/summer and once for the cooler months. Things the youngest can’t wear gets donated. But I’m still not in love with this organizing system.
I also store off-season clothing in totes for all 4 of us. The kids share a tote and I’ve pared down my winter clothing into just 1 tote. My husband hasn’t joined my decluttering band wagon yet but we will be doing a closet clear out for him before we move. However, I’ve realized this isn’t the best solution for storing off-season clothing. The issue is, in my 1 winter tote I have light weight sweaters and long pants stored with sweat shirts and flannel pajamas. I don’t use all of the items throughout the whole winter. So I’m basically pulling this huge tote off the top of my closet and sorting through it every other month from October-March. Typically what happens is it sits on the floor of my closet for a few months half-filled with summer and winter wear. Case in point:
I got these down a couple of weeks ago and just went to snap a pic!
I’ve realized I’ve not been organizing this well. For a better option in my dream home I’ll be purchasing some bins that I can label and place on the shelves in my closet. I’ll organize them so similar items are placed together. For example: 1 bin can hold sweatshirts, 1 bin can hold dressy sweaters, 1 bin can hold warm weather sleepwear, and 1 bin can hold long-sleeve t-shirts. Then I can pull down just the bin I need at the time. Not only is this more efficiently organized, it’s also safer than me standing on a chair pulling a 30 pound tote off the top shelf! Wellesley and King has a great post about this organizing system. Every closet in our dream home will have this option for off-season clothing storage! I might also implement it for the in-between clothing sizes for the kids.
Click here for a cute DIY tutorial on these dollar store bins from Lemons, Lavender, and Laundry!
On the opposite side you can label swimsuits, shorts, tank-tops, etc for when you swap out the clothing for the season. Then you can place it back in the closet with the summer wear and just turn the tote around. You also won’t have to hunt for a particular item at the bottom a large tote with this option. You can purchase see-through bins, wire bins, stack-able bins, or any mixture that will fit your needs. Here are some excellent storage bin options to organize your off-season clothing:
Organize Coat Closets
I realize I just talked about storing off-season clothing. How on earth could coats deserve their own category? Be honest, do you pack up and store your coats every year or do they sit in your coat closet all year long? The thing with coats is, some of them get worn nearly every day or at least several days per week during the winter while others tend to just hang out in the back of the coat closet for special occasions. Make sure to be honest with yourself on what coats you wear regularly. If you haven’t worn a coat in the past couple of years it’s probably time to get rid of it. Coats and jackets that are worn consistently can be stored in the mudroom. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Mudroom here.
But what about the ski coat you bring out every year for your annual ski trip and then never wear again? Or the special rain gear that only gets used in emergencies? Hunting and camping gear is another example. These items aren’t used regularly but they still need a place to be stored for the few times each year they’re used. Designate a pace in your home for them. We are planning on adding a small coat closet in our laundry room or incorporating it into our mudroom for these types of items. It doesn’t need to be a large space but they do need a place to go. We can also clear out the mudroom clutter during the summer time by having a place to store and organize coats and jackets during the off season.
Great example of garage coat storage via creative closets
Organize Your Luggage
Want to know what takes me weeks to complete? Unpacking after going on a trip! I know I’m not the only one. We travel pretty regularly since our family lives out of state and we also have a 5th wheel. We have 2 large suitcases, 2 carry on suitcases, and several duffel bags, backpacks, and other bags of various sizes and purposes. I used to store the smaller bags inside the large bags to save space. However, this is really annoying when we use our smaller bags 3 times as often as we use the large suitcases but I still have to pull the entire set out to find the bags I need. For the large suitcases and large camping gear some type of garage storage would work just fine (watch out for pests).
Via Zillow. See the suitcases on the top right.
But for small bags this type of organization system would be extremely inconvenient. Meaning they would probably sit on the floor of the closet even longer! Use space wisely. Most guest room closets would make a good option for storing extra luggage or even the floor of your own closet depending on the size. Some people opt to hang luggage or store on shelving. Here is a great post from The Sunny Side Up Blog on organizing a luggage closet. Here is another good post of 7 ways to organize luggage on Make Space. Check out these ideas below for finding a place to organize your luggage.
Via Home Storage Solutions 101
Via House of Anais
You will need a basket or shelf to organize the smaller toiletry bags as well. One hack I have implemented is I now store my small travel bottles inside my toiletry bag so I don’t have to search for them when it’s time to pack. I know exactly where they are and just refill them before the next trip. This will help you stay organized and prevent stress when you’re packing for your next trip! Also, if you haven’t decluttered these items yet – do a thorough assessment before storing.
Are any of the bags ripped? Missing a zipper? Are the straps frayed or broken? if it’s not repairable the toss it. Only keep items in this category that are useful.
Organize Cleaning Supplies
You need cleaning supplies. You also need a place to organize and store them. Often you need several places! Most people have brooms and vacuums that will go in a larger pantry area with other large, bulky, or other general cleaning supplies. Under the kitchen sink typically there are additional cleaning supplies needing to be organized. Somewhere in the bathroom there is usually toilet bowl cleaner and a plunger. It doesn’t make sense to store all of these items together and then carry the items to the specific room you’ll be cleaning that day. You need easily accessible and easily re-organized cleaning supplies. Let’s start with the main storage area and work our way through the home. Below are two great posts on creating a main cleaning supply area.
Read The 36th Avenue post on DIY cleaning closet here
Find more info on the School of Decorating Cleaning Command Center here
Using their tips you can organize your large and small cleaning supplies in a neat and accessible system. I particularly like how School of Decorating incorporated plastic bins to carry cleaning supplies to different areas of the home and The 36th Avenue’s tip on storing paper towel rolls for easy access. Although you could create a kitchen sink bin to carry, its much more likely that you will store kitchen cleaning supplies in the actual kitchen. Here are some ideas to organize the area under the kitchen sink.
Little Bit Funky used a tension rod
Just a Girl and Her Blog got a little fancier
Bathrooms are another area in our house that we often store cleaning supplies. Typically just a few items are needed but we don’t want to forget them as we organize our home.
Morganize with Me has a How-to Create a Cleaning Kit Post.
This kit would easily fit under a bathroom sink!
The Kim Six Fix has a great DIY tutorial on this under sink storage system with pull out baskets.
You might have trouble thinking of everything off the top of your head that needs a place so do a walk through of your home. What areas need to be organized that contain cleaning supplies? Can you consolidate some of the items? Do you have cleaning supplies from the early 2000s you haven’t used in a decade? Toss items that are expired or that don’t work well. Here are some items that can help you get started on organizing your cleaning supplies:
These two can work well if you aren’t very handy or much of a Do-it-yourself-er
Here are some handy baskets or bins that you can store and carry:
Finally some hardware to help you organize and hang those brooms, buckets, and other items:
I know there are more items in my home that need a place. In fact, I’ve already been brainstorming my next post on this home organization topic. I would love to hear from you what areas in your home always seem to be cluttered and what items you are struggling to find a home for within your home. I’ll do my best to help you find more solutions in my next post! Please leave your top clutter areas and top clutter items in the comments section.
I’ll send you even more home design, home organization, and dream home tips straight to your inbox; all you have to do is sign up for my newsletter below. Thanks for visiting.
This post was so popular I created part two; check out How to Organize Your Home: A Place for Every Item Part 2. Also, I have an entire post for organizing holiday decor so check that one out too!
Get rid of clutter one trash bag at a time
Americans have too much stuff. The LA Times reported the average American household has 300,000 items in it! This post from Becoming Minimalist has some other eye-opening clutter statistics. If you are anything like me, you would rather spend your free time doing things you enjoy rather than organizing and decluttering your home. I decided to challenge myself to eliminating clutter. We are building our dream home and I don’t want to take things with me that won’t add to our dream. I’ve started a list of items to purge before we move that you might find helpful as well. To get started with a decluttering project it can help to have a goal. Feel free to edit your goal as needed.
*Post contains some affiliate links. If you purchase off the links I’ll make a small commission at no extra charge to you.
I Challenged myself to declutter a garbage bag worth of items every week for 8 weeks
The challenge literally consisted of 1 rule: Purge one 13 gallon trash sack worth of items each week. I’ve written this post over the past 8 weeks as I went through this project. I wanted to track progress as I went. My hope is that you will find items to declutter in your own house by using my examples. Please leave a comment with items you were able to declutter at the bottom of this post. Best wishes on your decluttering journey.
Declutter Week 1: Magazines
I’ve moved an entire tote full of old magazines 3 times. I finally recycled all of them my first week. I cannot tell you how liberating this was. Silly reasons I was holding on to them: maybe I would finally go through them and use the recipes I marked, I might want to use an article from the nutrition journals, or other ridiculous lies I told myself. I’ve decided I will NOT be ordering any more paper magazine subscriptions in the near future. Are you holding on to old magazines in your house?
Total trash sacks to date: 1
Decluttering Week 2: Trash and Recycling
I filled 2 garbage sacks with trash and recycling just by doing a 30 minute sweep of my house. Items that I said goodbye to: tote full of scraps from a reupholstery project. From last year… Why this wasn’t tossed sooner, don’t ask. Packing materials from a delivery received a while back. Way too many empty toilet rolls to count (note to self: put a trash can in the toilet room!!). Junk mail, magazines, old receipts, empty water bottles. This list continues. Don’t judge. Consider doing a quick sweep of your own house and look for items that belong in the trash.
Also found these random items my sister had left behind when she moved (3 months ago). I ended up giving her two of my cookbooks as well. Win!
Total trash sacks to date: 3.5
Decluttering Week 3: Garage Scraps
Unexpectedly my husband lost something in the garage so we spent an hour decluttering construction materials. I asked when the last time he used any of the scraps he was holding on to. He said probably never. We filled a trailer bed full of Sheetrock, wood scraps, and even some Styrofoam. I wasn’t expecting this but I’m very happy this is out of the garage. I can actually get to all the shelving now. If most people are honest, there are probably several things in their garages or storage areas that just need to be tossed. Are you holding on to items that you “might use some day”? I recommend purging them.
Total trash sacks to date: 3.5 +scraps
Decluttering Week 4: Office Supplies and Old Papers
Office supplies were my next items to sort through. I emptied the dresser I’d been storing them inside. What’s that saying about out of sight out of mind? Yeah. Anyway, I tested all the pens and put the usable ones in our office, stuck the outdated stationary (from 2009 when I graduated college…) in the recycle, and threw away the 3 extra remotes we had accumulated. Then organized the random items I came across. After everything was either purged or organized I only had that little pink box left of items without a home or place. P.S. anyone need an almost full box of resume paper?
Since I didn’t get rid of any large items in this clean out I also went thru a box of old school projects, work materials, and random paperwork. I filled the bottom half a garbage sack with recyclable papers. Woot woot! Are you keeping excess office supplies, craft materials, or items that you once used but really aren’t useful to you anymore?
Total trash sacks to date: 4 +scraps
Decluttering Week 5: My Clothing
Closet clean outs are daunting tasks. To make it easier I implement the hanger trick every year. I sell gently used clothing on poshmark (my closet on Poshmark). So far I’ve only made a whopping $80 but I’m optimistic. I reviewed my closet and any of the nice items I haven’t worn in a year (minus my favorite cocktail dresses) got put into my “sell tote”.
The hubs took pictures for me and I uploaded pics and specs to the poshmark app. I ended up adding a total of 7 dresses and 2 tops to the mix. I’m giving the items until next Summer. If they haven’t sold by then I’ll be taking them to a resale shop because my “sell tote” won’t be going with me to the new house. Most resale shops donate if your items don’t sell within 6 months so they won’t be coming back home with me.
Other clothing that has a lower resale value went into a bag for donations – filled the bottom half of a trash sack. Maybe 1 week I can convince the hubs to clean out his side of the closet. Easy 2 trash bags in there!
I also gave a coworker some toddler toys that my girls outgrew. Technically they’ve been in my trunk for a couple months now so I didn’t actually “declutter” them this weekend. But apparently I wasn’t going to remember to stop at goodwill any time soon! It’s still decluttering. Just from my car instead of my house.
All in all though with the clothing to donate, the items I’m selling, and the toys gone I am over a full trash sack this week! I forgot to take pictures of the clothing and toys I purged. Whoops. I highly recommended going through your clothing at least once per year if not every season. If you haven’t worn it in the past year it’s probably time to part with it. If you haven’t been weeding out your unused clothing this would make a great first decluttering project.
Total trash sacks to date: 5.5 +scraps
Decluttering Week 6: Textbooks and Kids Clothing
I am a nerd. I do not like getting rid of textbooks. It’s ridiculous. I bought all of my college and grad school texts. I only sold back ones that weren’t relative to my degree. That was a mistake. I realize selling your books back gets you less than what you paid for them.
But waiting too long gets you $0. Yes I ran the numbers trying to sell them online. No one wants 15+ year old texts. I gathered 6 textbooks I’m ready to part with. I haven’t opened them in… 5 years? Are you holding on to textbooks or other books you don’t read anymore? What about CDs, DVDs, or other often stored items that are rarely used?
I also went through my daughters’ clothing to determine things the littlest has outgrown. I have a friend at work with a daughter 1 year younger so I filled up a grocery sack full of tiny pants and shirts to give to her.
Total = half bag books plus a third with kids clothes. Close enough to a full sack!
Total trash sacks to date: 6.25 +scraps
Decluttering Week 7: Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry
It was past time to clean out the fridge. I filled up our 13 gallon trash can with expired items such as salad dressing and deli meat, a few half empty cartons of soy milk, broth, and the like that had been sitting in there for at least 2 months, leftovers that may or may not have started to grow mold, a yogurt that had fallen behind a shelf and gotten stuck, and few other random items.
I also cleared out the pantry. Just a couple of bags of stale chips, some hot-dog buns leftover from our last camping trip 1 month ago, and an empty box of cereal (someone must have been sleepy when they put it back!).
No pictures of the trash can. I know you’re disappointed! But I also finally decided to toss our broken laundry hamper. Two of the bars have snapped so I could no longer prop it up. It’s almost the size of a garbage bag itself! I only counted it as half a bag though. When was the last time you cleaned out your fridge and pantry?
Total trash sacks to date: 7.75 +scraps
Decluttering Week 8: Miscellaneous
This week was a hodgepodge week. I got the idea to sort through my summer shoes after reading this awesome list of things to purge in the fall. I have about 8 pair I didn’t wear. Ended up donating 4 of them. The others are more special occasion wear/heels that I won’t wear for work but do wear for weddings or other special events.
I also decided to sort through my plastic containers in the kitchen. I’ve got way more lids than I do containers. I’m giving myself a week to find the missing parts and then the rest will get tossed. These are often used as snack containers for my kids and they’ll wander off with the “bowl” part and leave the lid.
I also found 4 more clothing items to sell (2 dresses and 2 shirts) as I was removing my summer clothes from the closet and adding the fall/winter clothes. I also realized I was pretty happy with my winter wardrobe. It all fits in 1 tote! I’ve really paired it down over the last 4 years of living in Arizona. Due to having family who lives out of state and enjoying camping in northern Arizona I can’t have zero winter clothing. But I definitely didn’t need as much as I had 4 years ago (2-3 totes worth). If you live in a particular climate, consider only keeping the basics for other climates.
Hopefully some of these random items sparked action in your decluttering journey. I’m sure there are many other items that I need to purge. Decluttering is definitely a process. But getting rid of a lot of easy items first has motivated me to continue the journey and hopefully a year from now when we move into our dream home I won’t have anything left that I don’t want to take with me. If you would like to learn more about our dream home journey check out this post on our first set of revisions. Considering buying or building your own dream home? Here are some questions to ask yourself first!
Total trash sacks to date: 8.5 +scraps
8 weeks and over 8 trash sacks full of items to either sell, donate, recycle, or trash!
The challenge was a success! Now that I’ve sorted through a lot of larger items and random items the next project will be focused on decluttering smaller areas in the house. We have a couple of bookcases to tackle and the kids toys need a good sorting. Of course I’ll share the outcome of that challenge as well.
What items were you able to declutter or what are you planning to declutter during your garbage bag challenge?
Mudrooms are all the rage! And why shouldn’t they be? We love adorable ways to organize and declutter our homes! Every dream home needs a mudroom.
Whether you have a large family or a small family, a large space for your mudroom or a small space this is the post for you!
*This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from a link I’ll get a small commission without any additional charge to you. I have not personally used all of the products in this post.
First we will start with the essentials for your mudroom. Even with these essentials the possibilities are endless! You can arrange them in a multitude of ways. Next we will look at how to add a special, personal touch, then I’ll walk you through some special considerations, and finally you can choose the design best for your space.
5 essentials for any mudroom:
Hooks are great for jackets, beach towels, backpacks, hats, purses, or diaper bags. They are versatile and simple to use for young kids. They can be arranged at multiple heights and offer a quick view of the items you need for the day.
You can purchase hooks on a bar, ready to hang. Add some creative hooks like these wooden birds. You can also install your own hooks at your desired spacing with individual hooks. Consider these awesome design ideas below for even more creativity for your mudroom.
Antique for a unique charm:
Rustic option for the farmhouse:
Musical for the band nerds:
Personalized for everyone in the family:
With the hooks alone there are so many options!
2) Shoe Space
No matter how you design it, every mudroom needs a space for shoes! There are a lot of creative options such as shelving of different heights, cubbies, baskets, hooks, and drying mats. Pick the best option for you based off your family’s needs. You might even want more than one option!
These two double as a benches:
Some people prefer using baskets to hold shoes. Check out this DIY post from Shanty-2-Chic for this lovely mudroom option and notice the cute baskets!
Baskets are perfect for smaller items such as keys and wallets. They can also be used for sport equipment, shoes, or library books that need returning. They come in many shapes and sizes to fit your family’s lifestyle. You might choose multiple sizes or keep them all the same for simplicity’s sake. Now matter what they’ll be used for baskets are a must have for your mudroom.
Check out this post on the anatomy of a great mudroom for tips and info on creating this adorable mudroom space:
4) Storage Space: Cabinets, Lockers, Open shelves
Some items can’t be hung up easily and will need alternative storage space. Typically each person has multiple jackets/coats and those not used for daily wear can be hung in a cabinet.
We have a bag we take on long car trips that holds CDs, games, and coloring supplies for the kids that will sit in our future mudroom cabinet.
Larger sporting equipment likes baseball bats can fit here as well. You prefer open spaces and visible shelving? That can work in a mudroom too. Making it easy to find what you’re looking for as you usher the kids out the door.
Cabinets: Great for hiding items and for a nice clean look
Lockers: More functional for a family with kids
Open Shelving: Best for adults who won’t fight over their space!
5) A Seat
Enough room for 1 or a family of 6. Anyway you please, there must be a seat or a bench in your mudroom. You can use Plain wood or a custom cushion and throw pillows. This is a nice way to put personal flair in your mudroom. You can even use a stand alone chair if your mudroom will be in your entry way.
This entry way is adorable! All the essentials are present and the bench doubles as extra storage.
This bench comes in several designs/colors and could be added next to a single locker like above or placed between two lockers if you have the space
Built in seating: Probably the most popular type of seating for a mudroom
Once you’ve determined your needs for the essential items. Next it’s time to consider what personal touches you might add.
Here are 6 mudroom design and decor ideas to help you create your perfect mudroom:
1) Personalize it!
Get some chalkboard paint. Add painted letters. Decorate with photographs. Or try something else to have a cute and creative way to determine each family member spot. It really makes a mudroom feel homey.
Chalk board Lockers:
Full name option:
2) Try a theme
Are you thinking farmhouse or modern? Minimalistic or decorative? How will the mudroom compliment the rest of your house? You want to make sure your overall design flows and is consistent.
Coastal and Beach:
Add a cute sign or a family photo across the top. Consider placing Greenery nearby. It’s a great idea to add a rug or mat so dirt doesn’t get tracked in as well. Mats can be cute and functional for mudroom needs.
Mats: Functional option for rainy or snowy areas
Pillows: Great for a decorative flare and to pull in a theme
4) Counter Space
Have a space to place items that just need to be dropped for the moment. Maybe you’re carrying groceries in and you’re about to drop something or you’ve got a stack of books from the library that need to be dispersed to the kids. A functional place to set items and then organize can be just the thing to complete the perfect mudroom.
We all appreciate having one last look before we head out the door. Mirrors can also help make spaces appear bigger. You could add floor length or just head height mirrors to your mudroom. You could add several for a decorative flare of just keep it minimalistic and clean.
6) Focal Wall
Having the wall of the mudroom as a design feature can give it an added flare and help separate the mudroom from joint spaces. Ship-lap, chevron, bright paint, or other fun designs can be used on the walls.
Decluttering is the first step to an organized home. If you’re feeling a little stuck on decluttering you can signup for the Triple 10 declutter Challenge. To learn more check out the info here. If you’re ready to get started sign-up below!
Special Notes for Dog Lovers:
Do you need a place to wash the mud off of Fido? Place for their kennel? Food and water bowls, toys, and leashes need a spot too. Dog owners should keep these in mind when designing their mudroom.
What type of space are you working with?
1) Long Wall Mudroom
Any long hallway in your home could work for this. Especially one that has the kids’ rooms off of it. Most people prefer it to be right inside the door. But you can definitely get creative. This is probably the most common type of mudroom.
2) Corner Space Mudroom
Have a spare corner that’s just empty space? Why not make it functional with a mini mudroom? Check out these great ideas.
3) Garage Mudroom
Don’t even bring the “mud” into the house. Leave it in the garage where it belongs! These simple garage additions could be the perfect solution if your house is short on space inside. Check out this post for more ideas on garage mudrooms.
4) Mini Mudroom
Mudroom don’t have to be huge to be functional. A single seat and a couple hooks can do the trick!
5) Foyer Mudroom
No place to add built ins? A cute foyer can double as a “mudroom” with a few simple touches such as a basket for shoes that you can slide under a bench. Add a table for your wallet and keys and you’re all set
Source: Dixie Delights Online
Consider these for new builds where you can plan the mudroom from the beginning or if you have a large space to work with:
1) Opposing walls in an extra wide hallway
This can work wonders coming in from a garage. You can double your storage space or make one side a “drop zone” for sorting mail, stashing coupons, and organizing your life. You can never have too much storage in the mudroom.
2) An Actual Mud Room
Having a door to separate the junk and grime from the rest of the home can help you feel calm and clean. It’s a great way to leave work, school, and the outside world behind you when you get home at the end of the day so you can relax and focus on your family.
3) Combined Mudroom and Drop Zone
Drop zones are nearly as useful, if not more somin their own way as a mudroom. Why not combine the two for a 100% functional and organized space.
4) Large Family Mudroom
Would you like each of your 6 kids plus you and your spouse to have your own space in the mudroom? You can make that happen.
5) Small Family Mudroom
If your needs are smaller there are mudroom options for you as well. This space would work great for 1, 2, or 3 people!
6) L Shaped
I find this mudroom design very clever. It’s a great use of awkward spaces and allows for all the essentials with more storage.
7) Combined Laundry and Mudroom
Having your mudroom and laundry room all in one can be optimal for organization. Many times the laundry is close to the garage and can make a perfect detour to drop items to keep contained from the rest of the house. This can double the size of your laundry room and really give you space to work.
Still need some more ideas for your mudroom?
Check out this post from Mom of 6 or this one from the Turquoise Home. Need organization ideas? Check out these posts: Find a place for every item part 1, find a place for every item part 2, organizing holiday decor. Ready to declutter your home but don’t know how to begin? Click here for a 10 day decluttering challenge.
Prefer to just purchase a kit for your mudroom?
Check out these options from Amazon (I swear they have everything!). Listed in price ranges below:
Less than $100
More of a Do-It-Yourself type?
This post from Farm Fresh Vintage Finds is a great one for a large mudroom pictured below:
Obviously a mudroom is a must have for any dream home. Check out this list of other “Must Haves” so you can design the ultimate dream home. If you’re working on organizing your existing home check out How to Organize Your Home: A Place for Every Item Part 1, Part 2, and Holiday Decor Edition.
Can you think of anything else that’s essential for a mudroom? What about other design or decor ideas? Drop them in the comments below.
Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to get even more fabulous home design ideas delivered to your inbox! Plus, you won’t want to miss the exclusive content and freebies from time to time.