The final days of the year hold a special significance in many homes. They mark quieter days spent together indoors where families can celebrate and look forward to the bright new year ahead. The holidays are also an ideal time to give thanks for what sparks joy in our lives – and to let go of what doesn’t – as we contemplate how far we’ve come and where we’d like to go next.
“The Japanese have a custom called ōsōji, or ‘big clean,’” says Marie. “It’s similar to spring cleaning in the West, but we do it at the end of the year. They do this with a spirit of gratitude as they prepare to welcome the New Year. In many other parts of the world, too, the end of the year is a special holiday season when families gather together. If that’s true for you, then why not schedule in your very own tidying festival so that you can be finished before celebrating the holidays?”
Here is a seven-step guide to tidying before the festivities begin.
Before starting, imagine how you want your holiday season to look and, more importantly, to feel. When you think of the perfect evening with your family, what do you picture? Do you see thoughtfully planned meals enjoyed around a table or a quiet night spent drinking tea with someone you love? Visualizing your ideal holidays will help you decide how to focus your energy.
Before addressing any special holiday needs, start by taking stock of how your home feels to you right now. Move through each room the KonMari way, taking note of any areas that don’t match your ideal vision for the upcoming months. What feels out of place? What fails to spark joy? Pay special attention to the spaces where you’ll spend the holidays: the living room, dining room and also the kitchen – where we often informally gather.
Schedule by Category
Marie recommends setting a schedule for each weekend so that you address a specific category on Saturday and another on Sunday. A sample schedule might look like this:
- Saturday, Weekend One: Clothes
- Sunday, Weekend One: Books and Papers
- Saturday, Weekend Two: Komono (miscellaneous items)
- Sunday, Weekend Two: Kitchen komono
- Saturday, Weekend Three: Garage komono – the perfect time to pull out your holiday decorations!
- Sunday, Weekend Three: Sentimental items
“Feel free to adjust this schedule to your own situation,” Marie says, “If you have lots of papers, you could give that category two days instead of one. The important thing is to actually set aside time in your calendar for tidying.”
Make Room to Receive
With holiday traditions that often include gifts and packages arriving by mail, more elaborate meals or perhaps a Christmas tree, you’ll likely need to rearrange certain spaces and temporarily store unneeded furniture and items. Start by choosing a place to store everything you plan to put away – preferably somewhere out of sight. Then, pack items away by category, so you can easily return them to their proper places after the holidays.
Make Space to Decorate
Holiday decorations also need assigned spaces! Whether you’re making room for a Thanksgiving table or New Year’s Eve garland, plan out where you’ll display each item. Remove any day-to-day objects that distract from the atmosphere you’d like to create, placing them in the area you’ve created for temporary storage. This step will keep your house feeling tidy even with the addition of many bright decorations.
Tidy Tip: As you unpack annual holiday items, pause and ask whether they still spark joy. So much can change in 365 days!
Add Joyful Touches
During the holidays, the small details make all the difference. Ask yourself how you can spark joy for those you love in unexpected ways. Marie likes to burn incense in her home to cleanse the atmosphere and brighten spirits. Lighting candles in shared spaces, including guest bathrooms, creates a special ambiance as well. Choose a scent that feels festive, such as evergreen or cinnamon, to bring back memories of previous seasons.
Tidy Tip: If you’ve wrapped up the tidying process but still feel your space is lacking something, don’t forget the power of music! The best holiday celebrations stimulate all the senses – and joyful songs make for a magical holiday ambience.
Accept the Unexpected
Whether it’s a last-minute house snowstorm or burning an important dish just before New Year’s Eve dinner, even the best-prepared host can’t predict every unforeseen circumstance. In these situations, applying the KonMari Method™ to your mindset can help you regain perspective. Let go of whatever happened that isn’t sparking joy with gratitude. Celebrate this season for all that it offers, including the occasional complication – these often lead to countless unexpected joys.