This is the only decluttering rule you'll need until the New Year. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated December 21, 2018
Woman decorating living room for Christmas
Credit: Hero Images Inc./Getty Images

Somewhere in all of the fun and festivities of the holiday season, it can feel like things get a little out of control. Not only are we likely spending and eating more than normal, but we're likely bringing home more holiday party dresses, kids toys, and Christmas decorations than our already-overstuffed closets, play rooms, and attics can handle. By the time the New Year rolls around, our cluttered homes are desperately in need of an overhaul. This year, instead of waiting until January to deal with the mess, get your family to follow one simple golden rule of decluttering to stem the chaos before it starts. The One-In, One-Out Rule is the organizing trick that will keep your home tidy throughout the holiday season.

What Is the One-In, One-Out Rule of Organizing?

The One-In, One-Out Rule is nothing new—organizing pros have been recommending it for years as a way to prevent clutter from taking over. The name says it all: For each new thing you bring into your home, one thing has to leave. Instead of continually bringing in new items and waiting until the accumulation reaches a tipping point to purge things, you're decluttering little by little, as each new thing comes in. For example, if you buy a brand-new New Year's Eve dress this year, donate an older special-occasion dress you no longer wear. This organizing rule maintains the equilibrium of your home, so the holiday clutter can't pile up.

Get Your Family Involved

If you share a home with others, and especially if you have kids, you'll need to get your partner, family, or roommates on-board with the One-In, One-Out Rule. When your kids come home with a new haul of Christmas toys from Grandma, they'll have to choose older toys they no longer play with to go. Instead of phrasing it as getting rid of toys, presenting it as "generously giving toys to other kids who could use them" will make the process a little easier. Plus, getting your kids involved in the decision-making process will help prevent tears later on. The same way of thinking applies to your own decisions as well. If you receive a newer model Instant Pot for Christmas, conceptualize getting rid of the older model as donating it to someone who will love it and use it.

What to Do With the Things You No Longer Need

If followed carelessly, the One-In, One-Out Rule could result in lots of things winding up in the landfill. Instead, make the decision quickly about what to get rid of, but take your time deciding where it should go. Create a giveaway box or basket in your home, where all of the old clothing and toys gets collected. When the box is full, it's time to go to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. It may be tempting to put the dress you decided to give away back in your closet—but remember the rule. If you put that dress back, then another one has got to go.

Keep It Going Beyond the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a great time to start this organizing policy in your home, but why not make it a New Year's resolution to keep it going in the New Year? It will prevent the clutter from building up year-round, and can save you from ever having to tackle the giant, overwhelming closet purge again. With this easy-to-follow rule, maintaining balance in your home just got a little bit easier.