Think twice before you start festive shopping to help prevent clutter in your home. Doing so will fill you with cheer, we promise

Soon it will be time to start decorating and gift shopping, and you may be contemplating a clear-out to get rid of stuff that has been annoying you during the past few months.

But before you start Marie Kondoing your posessions, decluttering expert Emma Gleeson advises asking yourself how your home became like this.

“Countless books and TV shows tell us how to categorise and store our possessions with the precision of army sergeants. It’s clear that our stuff runneth over, and we want to get to grips with it,” Emma says.

“But the truth is that most of the advice out there is missing the fundamental change you need to make if you have any hope of maintaining a clutter-free home. Trust me, the only way to fix your clutter problem is to drastically change how stuff comes into your house in the first place.”

Sometimes it does feel as if the clutter does magically appear inside our homes. But the truth is, we all know exactly how the piles of stuff came to be, seeing as we more than likely carried it all inside our front door, in a shopping bag or yet another parcel delivery.

“How you shop and how much you buy matters far more than any nifty organisation system. Shopping is the elephant in the room when clutter is discussed within our consumer-crazed culture, which desperately wants to sell us clever organisation systems and, of course, even more stuff,” Emma says.

Sound familiar? Then you’re probably well versed in the cycle that is clear-out, shop as before, until the clutter has piled up again and we need another clear out. In Emma’s book Stuff Happens!, she writes about how we can slow down, learn to appreciate what we already own with new eyes, and keep our homes neat in a way that will help our ailing planet.

“I know, writing about buying less coming up to Christmas is like advising people to give up the booze just before Paddy’s Day. I promise you that I am not trying to take away any festive joy! But I do think we could all use some help to ease the stuffocation that can arise at this time of year,” Emma says.

Here are her gift-buying tips to avoid adding to you and your loved ones’ clutter cycles:

1. No silly stocking fillers

Learn to avoid objects that give a one-off dopamine hit and then immediately become clutter. Some seasonal examples include grow-your-own-boyfriend kits, novelty joke books, reindeer that poop chocolate buttons. They are like Cinderella’s gold carriage and turn instantly to clutter pumpkins at midnight.

2. Foodie treats won’t go to waste

If you can’t think of a specific item someone might like, resist buying them an object just for the sake of it. Instead, why not buy them some lovely food? I always find that some fancy jam goes a long way.

3. Kindly refuse unwanted toys

Talk frankly to family members who like to rain plastic tatt on your children. I know how easy that sentence is to write and how hard it is to practise, but do your best!

4. Support local

Buy Irish. There has been a huge swell of support for local retailers this year which is heartening to see. Something with a story behind it is far less likely to become clutter and will hopefully be enjoyed for many years.

5. Consider every purchase

Buy less, buy better, and bid clutter goodbye for good by getting to the source of the problem instead of hopelessly fighting the symptoms.

Stuff Happens! by Emma Gleeson will be published by Sandycove on 25 February 2021 and is available for pre-order now.

Main image: Pexels