Last Christmas I set myself a challenge to give away 100 things in the run up to Christmas, to counterbalance all the consumption and excess of the season.
I had to find one thing in my house each day which I no longer used / liked / needed and then give it away (to local charity shops or to friends and neighbours). The giving felt great, but the decluttering felt even better! I was totally amazed by how many random things I'd been keeping that I no longer had any use for or real interest in (including the cookie cutters pictured above, which I'd bought many years before and never used).
As I wrote last year, "I will never ever ever be a minimalist. I like having a house full of
colour and pattern and vintage treasures and sentimental trinkets and
family heirlooms and things which just make me happy because they're
beautiful. But I do want my posessions to earn their place in my home,
and to have a house filled with wonderful things rather than clutter."
So, without blogging about it (because, honestly, I didn't know if I'd be able to manage it, especially after having just cleared out 100 things) I set myself the challenge in 2011 to do a "Less 365" project, getting rid of one thing a day for a whole year... and I just completed it yesterday afternoon!
I put a box in the spare room and started adding things to it one by one. I didn't completely stick to the "one thing a day" rule, but I kept a list of everything as I went along so I could keep track of my progress and so it wouldn't matter so much if I missed a few days here and there, I just made them up later. Sometimes my "one thing" for the day included lots of individual things (like a big pile of old magazines, or a china coffee set), sometimes they were big things, sometimes small, but the list just kept on getting longer...
Some things went to the charity shop, some things to friends and neighbours, others got recycled or just thrown away if they were really old or damaged. I could probably have sold lots of stuff on Ebay but to be honest selling on Ebay makes me really stressed, and I wanted that warm fuzzy feeling you get from taking bags of nice things to the local charity shop more than I wanted a bit of extra cash.
It's remarkably easy to pick out just one book you're not going to read
again, one CD you never listen to, one sweater you never wear, your least favourite bit of crockery, and so
on... and I've found that by sticking everything in a box out of sight for a few weeks, decision-making is a lot less stressful. Putting stuff in the box doesn't feel scary and final, when you empty the box when it gets full you'll probably have emotionally let go of most of the contents... and if you haven't you get a second chance to rescue something at the last minute if you've changed your mind, or you can just leave things in the box for a few months while you make a final decision.
I'm not going to lie to you, it does get trickier to choose things as the year goes on, but it makes you really look hard at all your "stuff" and be really honest with yourself about what you want to keep and use/display in your home, and why... and, of course, your space will be much less cluttered. I hugely recommend it! And even if you don't fancy the full "Less 365", you could just try it for January and see how you get on :)