December is such a magical time of year! Family traditions bring everyone closer, and your home is filled with charming decorations and the smell of baked goods. Everything starts to feel cozy, but maybe it’s all a little too cozy. Clutter has a way of taking over when your home is filling with holiday cards, gifts, treats, and decorations. These 5 clutter prevention tips will help make sure your holiday season is stress-free.

  1. Create a holiday card display.

As fun as holiday cards can be, they attribute to a lot of holiday clutter. Rather than let cards stack on the counter, create a bulletin board or other designated space to hang them as they arrive. It keeps your home organized and doubles as decoration.

  1. End with less.

It’s inevitable that you’ll gain ownership of new things during the holiday season. You can request experience gifts from family, but there will always be that aunt that gets you a sweater every year. You don’t want to feel ungrateful, but what you can do is take a fresh glance at what is already in your home. If you just keep adding to the pile of sweaters without every getting rid of any, make this the year you consider donating worn clothing and other items you don’t use anymore. Even if you don’t know what gifts you’ll receive, it’s a great time of year to give back and donate gently used items that could benefit someone else. Purge before the gift exchange, and you’ll end the season with less.

  1. Designate space.

You can’t always avoid crowding when you’re adding large decorations, like a tree, to your living room. However, you can create a designated space to organize your holiday cheer. Rearrange furniture to accommodate stacks of presents or find closet space to store presents until right before the gift exchange. This is where purging your home of existing clutter comes in handy, leaving room for items that you need to store temporarily. You’ll also want to keep in mind that there’s a difference between being a little crowded and being overwhelmed. Analyze the space you have before you get out the decorations to make sure you have room for everything you want. There are ways to get creative, but you must make your decorations fit the space, not the other way around.

  1. Minimize food clutter.

We don’t usually think of our favorite holiday snacks as clutter, but food takes up considerable kitchen and counter space. Consider staggering your baking and try to finish one snack before whipping up another. If you find that you’ve gone a little overboard with your latest cookie recipe, cookie platters make great holiday surprises for your friends and family.

  1. Don’t say “yes” to everything.

This is one of the hardest parts of maintaining a clutter-free holiday. There are so many events and activities to attend and trying to do them all is overwhelming all on its own. Don’t feel guilty for saying “no” to a party invite. Sometimes relaxing at home with your favorite holiday treat and some eggnog is the most enjoyable thing you can do. It also keeps you refreshed for the next activity that you did say “yes” to.

Clutter is a mental and physical challenge to overcome. You must be in control of your own space and your schedule to avoid feeling overwhelmed, and all it takes is a bit of reflection on what you need in your life. You don’t need every fruit cake, there’s no reason to attend every party, and perhaps your Christmas tree doesn’t need to be ten feet tall. It may feel like you’re doing less, but you’ll end the season with more gratitude.