The KonMari decluttering technique, invented by Marie Kondo, can help make your holidays more joyful and less chaotic.

By Sarah Bradley
Updated November 16, 2018
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The holiday season is busy, but here's the thing: If you’re dreaming of a minimalist Christmas, you don’t have to resign yourself to the busyness of the season. You can actually make that dream a reality by giving your holidays a KonMari makeover. That's right: the decluttering technique pioneered by Marie Kondo has the guiding principles you need to downsize holiday chaos while maximizing the joy of the season. Simply apply Kondo's rules of cutting clutter to your holiday schedule. By the time you're finished you'll have an entirely new mindset about how to organize your time around the holidays. Read on to learn exactly how to make this holiday season more joyful than ever before.

Resolve to Keep it Simple

To free up time, you need to be willing to give up some things. Obviously, if you have kids you won’t be able to clear away all your seasonal obligations (like wrapping presents), but there are probably still plenty of unnecessary things you’re doing simply because you feel like you have to. Either way, if you’re not mentally prepared to decline some invitations and part ways with a tradition or two, you won’t be successful.

Visualize Your Ideal Holiday

Close your eyes, light a holiday-scented candle, and think about what your perfect holiday season looks like. Are you spending most of your weekends lounging around in pajamas with your kids drinking hot cocoa? Are you organizing a toy drive and volunteering at a soup kitchen? Are you baking up a storm to host a neighborhood cookie swap? It doesn’t matter what you imagine, because it’s your personal ideal. The important thing is to think mindfully about the activities that bring you joy and consider why they’re so important to you. This will keep you motivated.

Identify Your Biggest Holiday Stressors

Kondo recommends tidying your stuff by category (clothing, books, toys) rather than by room, and organizing in one fell swoop (since clutter will continue to accumulate until you’re finished). To adapt this step for your holidays, open up your jam-packed calendar when you have a block of free time and start looking for categories of common holiday stressors: errands, tasks, invitations/events, family traditions. Anything that doesn’t fit neatly into a category is “miscellaneous” (or “Komono,” in KonMari speak).

Eliminate Anything That Doesn't Spark Joy

Using the categories you created in step three, rank your holiday stressors from most to least stressful. For example, if your mile-long list of tasks (Baking cookies! Buying stocking stuffers! Trimming the tree!) makes you weep, start there and work your way down. You’ll want to eliminate more activities from the top one or two categories to maximize the stress-busting benefits. Debating what to eliminate? Consider whether the activity—whether it's hosting a gift exchange or organizing your child's school holiday party—sparks joy, per the KonMari method. If it does, you keep it; if it doesn’t, you discard it.

Be Selective About Your Commitments

The final aspect of the KonMari method is smart, simple organization. Kondo recommends fully removing everything you don’t want to keep before storing what’s left, so first get rid of all the discarded activities on your calendar (delete, erase, start with a clean page, whatever). Then find a place to schedule all the remaining activities, aligning similar activities wherever possible. Can you take your family’s holiday card photo while you cut down your Christmas tree? That’s two birds with one stone—and one more open space on your calendar.