The Art of Decluttering

Declutter and Donate

The art of decluttering is really more of a sense of self and a sense of responsibility than any sort of talent. It’s being able to let go of things that represent significant moments in your life, ones you’ll never forget, and ones you don’t need a piece of plastic to remind you of.

It’s also a way to get rid of the shirt your kids outgrew nine years ago. Let’s start sifting through this and see what we can donate!


If you’re keeping your memories in a heap of stuff piled in your garage, it’s time to start sorting through it. You may be surprised at how much you can’t really connect to certain memories anymore. This is common. People tend to hold on to things as representations of special memories, then tuck them away in a corner of the garage or the shed.

Unfortunately, this means that, over time, there becomes a stack or a pile of items that they really have no use for and cannot identify. If you’re keeping items like this and no longer recognize them, it’s time to go ahead and donate the useful ones and trash the ones with no function.


Your child’s first shoes. Your first bike. Your mom’s favorite doll. All of these keepsakes are worth something to you, but if you’re running out of room (or getting close to a weight limit for moving purposes), it may be time to part with some of these precious items. We recommend taking pictures or video of the item before it moves on to a permanent home. This way, you can digitally secure the item without it taking up space during or after your move.

Another way to secure these keepsakes without actually keeping them around is to write the story of the item in a binder. Making a book of memories like this will clear up an enormous amount of space in your home, as well as allowing you to keep what’s important about those items–the special connection with them.


These are most often in the form of pottery created by very small hands with “Mom” written on the side, or pieces of “art” from first grade. While we don’t doubt that these knickknacks are deeply important to you and your family, few kids remember making the lumpy mug Mom still drinks out of to this day. But they notice when there’s 19 of them sitting in the family mug cabinet, and Mom won’t let them use any of them, or throw them away.

Be reasonable with these. It’s all right to have a small collection of very important knickknacks, but if you have multiple children, you may consider picking one or two items from their craft projects. Their entire collection may not fit if you’re downsizing your home after the children have left the nest. Consider offering these to family members with a special connection to the kid who made them rather than throwing them out.

Assorted “Stuff”

The visor from the theme park in 1992. The plastic snail someone sent you from who knows where. We tend to accumulate these sorts of things over time, no matter how tidy we keep our homes. Our recommendation? Once an item becomes so old and defunct that you can’t recognize it, it’s time for the item to be put out to pasture. Again, if so desired, take a picture of it in case you happen to go hunting for it one night and simply cannot find it. But most of these items can be thrown away with little lost value.

Donate Items


Think of organizations where you or a friend may volunteer. Some of these may pick-up items and may offer tax reductions:

  • Homeless and Domestic Violence Shelters
  • Homes for people with disabilities
  • Social Services Department
  • Veterans’ organizations, such as AmVets
  • Goodwill, Sheltering Arms. The Salvation Army
  • Feeding America or your local food bank

To get the value of the donation items, check Goodwill. Also, take a look at the IRS list of qualified, charitable organizations. Make sure that donated items do not need a lot of refurbishing.