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  • Adriane Weinberg
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Teddy Bear

Year-end is the perfect time to get rid of stuff. Out with the old! Decluttering is about letting go of things that are no longer useful, enjoyable or meaningful at this point in your life. It’s time to let go of sentimental clutter.

Don’t live in the past. Donate the unopened wedding gift from Aunt Martha 15 years ago. She’s forgotten about it by now. It’s OK to let go of things you don’t like or won’t use, no matter who gave them to you. Once given, gifts are yours to do what you like with them.

Don’t live in the future. Don’t save things for someday. We can’t keep everything for a perceived potential use. Chances are you’ll forget you have them or where you put them.

Living in the present makes life much simpler. Your home should look and function how you want it to. Maintain a balance of what comes in and what goes out.

In 20 years of helping people get organized, I’ve noticed certain types of things are really hard for some people to let go. Here are three.


If you’re keeping clothes in smaller sizes while waiting to lose those stubborn 25 pounds, donate them. If you lose the weight (congrats!), reward yourself with new clothes!

For sentimental items: frame the championship shirt, have favorite T-shirts made into a quilt, transform mom’s mink coat into a super-cute teddy bear.

Tip: To declutter, start small. Gather every item in one category (say, slacks), try them on to see how you look and feel in them, keep what fits and feels good, and donate the rest.


People get really attached to books. They enrich our lives in many ways. Read my previous post about why it can be hard to let books go and also learn about places to donate and do good at the same time. Check Covid restrictions.

For ways to organize your books, read this previous post.

Furniture provides built-in boundaries. Limit books to what fits in your bookcase(s) or on shelves — in single rows, not crammed there!. Choose your faves and donate the rest.

Tip: If you buy a new book, donate a book. One in—one out maintains your system.


Less is more when it comes to toys. Kids get confused with too many. Teach them about donation and explain that some kids don’t get toys on Christmas or ever. Together (post-Covid), visit donation centers, and maybe homeless shelters. When ready to downsize, let your children decide what to keep or donate. If there’s resistance, box the toys that aren’t played with, add a donation date (say in six months – note in your calendar) and place it out of sight. If one of the toys is requested, you can retrieve it. Donate the box of toys on the date you set.

There are memories associated with toys. Be strong when it’s time to let them go. If you feel really sentimental about a couple of toys, keep them.

Tip: Take videos of your children playing with their toys. They’re a great way to relive these moments.

How much things cost is not a factor when deciding what to keep or not. Yes, some things were expensive. But the money’s gone and keeping the items won’t change that. If you can sell some items, great! But if things don’t fit your life now, let them go.

It’s time to let go of sentimental clutter. Your castoffs will go to people who’ll appreciate having them. Knowing that should make your decisions easier.

Adriane Weinberg

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