Hooray! It’s springtime! After that long winter, it’s time to throw open the windows… and the closet doors.
 No doubt you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff in the last four months (or four years), and now it’s time to toss, reuse, up-cycle, recycle, or swap.

Clean Living Room. Photo: Wikipedia.

Clean Living Room. Photo: Wikipedia.

The best advice ever heard regarding decluttering: If it isn’t beautiful or useful, it’s time to get rid of it.

Pick a day when you can dedicate a few hours to going through each room. If it’s outdated, unused, it doesn’t fit or is broken, out it goes! Create two bags — a trash bag and a donation bag.

Once you’ve cleared out the stained, old or unusable items, begin to sort what you can donate or sell. If it’s an item that still has value left in it but you don’t have a use for it, consider creating a pile of flea market/yard sale items.

Try to find new uses (up-cycling) for an unused item, instead of buying something new. Repurpose a wooden wine crate, for example, into a dog-treat pantry instead of buying something brand new.

Basket Storage as Coffee Table. Photo by Samara Messer.

Image: Samara Messer.

Wicker baskets become storage in plain sight and become a coffee table with little effort. Hide away whatever you need: the air conditioner, stationery, kids’ toys, etc.

Another way to declutter and also gain some new-to-you needed items is to host a swap party. It’s a barter-trade party, with your stuff. Set aside what you no longer use, such as gently used clothes in good condition, unused house wares, movies and books, kids’ items, unused bath and spa items. These are items you don’t want anymore, can’t re-gift and can’t sell to make enough cash to make it worth your time. And, there is the added bonus of going green and helping the environment by using what other people no longer want. You could also barter for items — babysitting, painting, lawn care, etc.Wicker basket storage/ Coffee Table. Photo by Samara Messer.

Invite your friends over on a weekend afternoon, have each person bring something to nosh on, their items and a big reusable tote for taking home new goodies. Putting together a swap party isn’t difficult, so get creative and have fun!

Have each person display their wares with a chair or a desk, and each person can get some munchies and walk around and observe. An ideal swap party has about 9-12 people — any more than that and you’ll need the backyard or garage to fit everyone in. The best part about this is that one person’s cast-offs are truly another person’s cache.

If anything is left after the swap, consider donating the items to a shelter, Goodwill, the Salvation Army or any similar places in your neighborhood.

So get busy — throw open those windows and closet doors, open up that storage closet in the attic, and practice a little feng shui (the complex art of using the energies of a space for harmony).

Creating a clutter-free zone can allow you to feel better, help the environment and better use your money for what’s really important — you!

What will you toss or swap this season?