With the holidays on the horizon, time always seems to go by more quickly. But if you’re pressed for time, don’t stress out over straightening up for your guests. Instead, follow these seven easy cleaning tips for decluttering your home.

1. Donate to Charity

You may have heard of turning around hangers to determine which clothes you go months without wearing, and there are even more ways to cut down the number of items in your closet, like the 40-Hanger Challenge. Now is a great time for some charitable giving. Donate those infrequently worn pieces to local organizations, like battered women’s shelters. You can also apply a similar technique to other items in your home; if you’re hanging onto those mismatched coffee mugs from college, consider donating them.

2. Go Easy on the Blankets

blanket and pillows on beige couchEveryone loves a cozy blanket to enjoy in the living room, but keeping five blankets out at one time isn’t necessary. If you really can’t choose just one to leave out, switch them out every week. Your home will appear less cluttered, and it will add a little variety every time you set out a new blanket.

3. Pack Up Breakable Objects

If you’re having the whole family over for an extended stay, or even just having a few small parties with friends, pack up your home’s breakable objects for the season. It’ll save you the heartache of anything precious being broken and keep you from worrying about rambunctious kids (or friends).

4. Consolidate Electronics

phones and tablets sit on tableInstead of plugging in separate phones or computers in every room, try to consolidate them into a group entertainment center with one power strip. This eliminates the problem of where to keep such items when one of the kids’ bedrooms gets converted to a guest room, and it encourages better sleep for all involved.

5. Throw Away or Recycle Old Containers

We’re almost all guilty of saving store-bought deli meat containers for months after we eat all the food out of them. Reusing materials is great, but when you have 56 containers and only 22 lids, it’s time to get rid of a few containers. Most plastic ones are recyclable, so you can still limit your waste.

6. Reevaluate the Bookshelf

woman's hand pulling book off the shelfLike plastic containers, books have the tendency to stack up to a point beyond reason. Books make great gifts to the library, a family friend, or a charity. Keep only the books you’ve enjoyed most, and remove the other books from your shelf. This also opens up space for new books or seasonal decorations.

7. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge

Simply find 12 objects to throw away, 12 to give away, and 12 to put in their proper places. If everyone in the family participates, this activity can clear 36 items per person in an hour or less. The 12-12-12 Challenge is easy for most ages, and it can be repeated every time you need to declutter.

Simple living is easier when your house is clean. If you follow these decluttering tips, you’ll have a stress-free method for quick cleanups the next time you’re expecting guests in your home. You’ll find that each of these little steps goes a long way.