When I decided to pack my bags and hit the road to travel the country, my parents had just put the family home up for sale. Before I left, I helped pack up the house and discovered I had kept almost everything from practically the day I was born! Some of these items included old letters, several amateur paintings dating back to preschool days, a fancy top from when I was 14 that I couldn’t part with – you never know if a certain trend will come back in style. I knew I couldn’t keep everything since I would only be able to fit the essentials anyway, so I had to start tossin’. I gotta say it was really hard. It took me quite a while to go through all of my belongings, but once I added the first few items to my box labeled “donate” I actually began to literally feel lighter.
This packing process took place right after my yoga teacher training, so I finally came to the realization that most of the stuff I had been holding on to for so many years was no longer serving me. Some of the items I found to be meaningful at a certain point in my life, but they were no longer as important. Just because I decided to toss an old letter from a friend or relative with a sweet message scrawled inside didn’t mean I would forget or appreciate the generous and kind words that were written any less. I have read about some tricks to help downsize in the past, but I must admit I never tried them. Since I survived my first big purge, because I had to, I now know I can handle a few ways to control my closet from exploding and rid myself of items that I no longer need or use. I know I am not the only one in this situation, so let me help you start the process by suggesting some ways to help eliminate the clutter.
An easy way to start checking which clothes you absolutely can’t live without is to turn all the hangers around in your closet like this:
After a year, you will be able to see all the hangers that have not been turned back around or clothes that have obviously not been worn. Donate, or give away, all of the clothes that haven’t been touched. If this is your first time trying this technique, it may be difficult. It can be hard to part ways with an article of clothing that was maybe your favorite a couple of years ago because of the memories it may represent, or at least that’s why it’s so hard for me. If you are scared or sad to let go, try adding a second step to the process. For the items that didn’t pass the hanger test, toss them into a box and store under your bed or in the back of your closet for another 6 months. If you don’t think of a single item in the box, then seriously, why do you still have them? It is time to toss! Decide on making it a New Year’s resolution and have it be an activity you do the first week of every January. The New Year is a great time to reorganize and refresh.
A way to save the memories of some sentimental items is to just snap a photo of each one. For example, I took photos of short stories I wrote as a child, letters written from my grandparents, and my first ballet outfit (it was too flippin’ adorable to toss years ago). A picture stored on the computer takes up no space and you won’t have to worry about finding a place to keep the memorabilia. This way you get to keep and cherish the memory, which is the most important part.
Now that you have taken the time to discover what items you no longer use, why not donate them to individuals that would really appreciate them. Places you can donate your clothes, accessories, shoes, trinkets and/or memorabilia include Goodwill, Salvation Army, Souls4Shoes, churches, or find a women’s shelter in your area here.
It is wonderful to donate your things for those in need, but sometimes as a twenty-something it’s also great to find a way to make a few extra bucks. If you have items that are in great condition, create an account on ebay and sell them instead. You can also sell your clothes at second hand stores. Some second hand stores offer cash back, but often times if you have a favorite shop you can always trade in your items for store credit. Every time you go shopping swap a new item with something from your own closet. This way you still keep your closet from growing out of control.
Another great and fun way to get rid of some of your clothes and memorabilia is to host a give-away party at your place with your friends. You can grab a few bottles of wine, cheese and crackers, and let your friends search for buried treasure. You know how that goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I love when my friends offer me clothes they no longer want before they donate them, because they have some great stuff! You never know what your friends have been eyeing that’s yours and would love to have.
I know the new year has passed, but it’s not too late to get started. You still have 9 months left until 2016, so head to your closet now and turn those hangers around!