In my house, the months between October and December feel like one big back-to-back rush of putting one holiday's décor up and another's away. As much as I love the cheer of the decorations, I find my house gets a little cluttered and out of sorts—which usually leaves me somewhat flustered during the season.

This year, I'm making a point to do things differently: I'm getting my house together before the holiday season hits with some decluttering.

My goal is to sell, donate and toss the things that are not of use around here and focus on the things that I am using. Here's where I'm starting:

Holiday decorations

Unwanted, broken and unused seasonal decorations are great starting points for the pre-holiday purging. Now is the time to sort through those boxes, of…

  1. Ornaments
  2. Bulbs and lights
  3. Garlands
  4. Extra stockings
  5. Unused holiday albums
  6. Outside decorations
  7. Old wrapping paper, bows and tags
  8. Last year's Christmas cards
  9. Old artificial trees
  10. Outgrown holiday sweaters, pajamas, etc.

Kitchen + dining room

Since the kitchen and dining area will be some of the more used rooms in your home around the holiday season, keeping them clean and clutter-free will not only make them look good, but keep you sane during the season. Start by getting rid of…

  1. Unused serving wear
  2. Outdated table runners, napkins, table cloths
  3. Orphaned kitchenware, e.g. pots, pans, Tupperware, utensils, etc.
  4. Expired cleaning products
  5. Old spices
  6. Canned goods you won't use (look into donations to a local shelter or food bank!)
  7. Expired condiments or items in the freezer
  8. Old booze or wine
  9. Mismatched glasses, coffee mugs and wine glasses
  10. Cookbooks

Kids' gear

With the first semester of school down, I like to gather my little guy's artwork and school papers and sort them into two piles: keep and toss. It's also a great time to sort through closets and make a list of what they need or could use for winter. A few things I've already sorted through and can get rid of are…

  1. Old hats and mittens
  2. Shoes that are too small and can't be used for hand-me-downs
  3. Underwear and socks
  4. Unused and broken toys
  5. Puzzles/games with missing pieces
  6. Old books
  7. Unwanted school or artwork
  8. Old toothbrushes, soaps, shampoos and other bath products
  9. Outgrown shirts and pants
  10. Old winter coats and snowsuits

Living room

If your living room is anything like mine, it tends to be a catch-all for toys, books, coats, shoes... everything. Try getting rid of a few of these things to keep the room balanced and easy to pick-up…

  1. Old throw blankets
  2. Unused throw pillows
  3. Miscellaneous toys
  4. Boring coffee table books
  5. DVDs
  6. Old remotes/manuals
  7. Dying houseplants
  8. Old magazines
  9. Mantel knickknacks – you're going to want a clean mantel for the holidays
  10. Old fireplace logs, starters and equipment

Personal items

There's nothing quite like a light, well-organized purse and closet to keep you on target for the busy holiday season. Here are a few personal items that you can sort through to light YOUR load…

  1. Old make up, face washes, hair products and nail polishes
  2. Purse and wallet items
  3. Junk drawers items, e.g. old batteries, pens, coupons, etc.
  4. Car items
  5. Old clothes
  6. Old shoes
  7. Unwanted scarves
  8. Junk mail that still accumulated
  9. Unused planners and calendars
  10. Expired medications ( safely )

Things tend to multiply over the holiday season—especially with little ones—so getting a head start never hurts. When the New Year's purging comes about, you will be glad you did!