There's a certain exhilaration that comes with throwing things away and freeing up space in your home. It's not only an aesthetic task—KonMari-ing your space has proven health benefits, too. A UCLA study found that women who live in a cluttered environment are more likely to experience a surge in cortisol, a stress hormone. Yes, that untamed junk drawer is adding to your stress.
Since the holidays are typically a time we accumulate more, as wish lists are fulfilled and sales make us purchase-happy, it's the perfect occasion to take a good, hard look at all the stuff you've amassed over the year—and get rid of junk. To make it easy on you, we crafted this handy list of 20 things you need to toss, recycle, or donate by December 31 to start 2021 off on the right foot. Make your way through this list for a serene, clutter-free home.
1. Gift Paraphernalia
Shopping bags, crinkled gift ribbon, and ripped wrapping paper: Toss it all. Nothing psychologically prevents you from enjoying a fresh start like Christmas-themed trash sticking around and cluttering up your home. Move on!
2. Old Prescriptions
Take the New Year as an opportunity to clean shop in your medicine cabinet. Get rid of prescriptions and over-the-counter pills that have expired or that you haven't used in months; it's unsafe to keep expired medicine around.
3. Old Towels
Who wants to begin a new year with stained, discolored towels? The start of a new year is the perfect time to upgrade your bathroom with a set of fresh towels. Toss any threadbare ones that have just gotten too much wear.
4. Old Chargers
Gather up any random chargers that are cluttering up your shelves, and try to match them to the technology in your home (wireless speakers, Fitbits, etc.). If you cannot find a single item you still own and use that can be charged by the charger in question, toss it.
Most of us have a hodgepodge of old receipts and tags lurking in a myriad of places at home. Unless it's a receipt for a big purchase (sofa, laptop, refrigerator, or television), throw them away. Make sure to toss receipts and tags for clothing you've worn, as you won't be returning it and definitely don't need the proof of purchase.
6. Event Tickets
This is one of those items you probably don't even realize you end up accumulating. Unless you plan to frame or scrapbook the special movie night when you got engaged, throw them away.
If old invitations mark an important memory and you want to save them for posterity, put them somewhere for safekeeping. Otherwise, give your kitchen an instant makeover by recycling the cards and invitations on the fridge.
8. Old Magazines
If they're over a year old, they've got to go. Every last one of them. Take a look in the mirror and admit it to yourself: You're never going to reread them.
9. Chipped Mugs
It's time to purge your cabinets of random chipped, coffee-stained mugs a college kid wouldn't even keep around.
10. Old Nail Polish
The colors separate, and it gets gross. Say goodbye!
11. Shoe Boxes
Clear out old tattered cardboard shoe boxes and packing containers.
12. Old Bills
If you paid 'em, toss 'em, unless you need to keep them for tax purposes. Or scan important documents and keep a soft copy on an external hard drive for future reference.
13. Broken Jewelry
Get rid of broken jewelry you haven't worn or made an effort to fix. While you're at it, toss earrings that have been missing a match for ages. You need to face the reality that the missing earring won't be magically walking back into your life.
14. Dried Pens
No one needs the number of pens they mysteriously accumulate, and we bet half of them don't even work. Streamline your collection.
15. Old Bath Mats
Bath mats should be replaced once a year. They see a lot of foot traffic, and get stained, dirty, and worn down. Start the New Year with a fresh pad for your feet.
16. Unused Gifts
You did your civic duty and kept it around out of guilt, but you haven't used it… in a year. It's time for the guilt gifts to go.
17. Takeout Menus
You can easily order in via the internet or your choice of smartphone apps. Toss the old takeout menus cluttering your fridge or kitchen drawer.
18. Old Warranties
If they're expired or you're never going to need them, get rid of them.
19. Party Favors
You've likely come home with some relatively meaningless items from parties and weddings over the past year. We all have mementos we keep around for sentimentality, but some of it's just junk. Unless you love it, clear it out.
20. Broken Headphones
One word: useless.