10 Things to Get Rid of Before the New Year

updated Dec 29, 2020
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(Image credit: Jennifer Brister/Stocksy)

This year especially, let’s take the idea of a clean slate literally: Let’s clean out our fridges and freezers, purge the junk from our junk drawer, and own up to the fact that we will never (ever) remember to use all of those extra takeout sauce packets. Are you with us or are you with us? Do it now before the New Year — and don’t look back. Here are 10 things to get rid of before 2021.

1. Thanksgiving Leftovers

Raise your hand if you have Thanksgiving leftovers lurking deep in the back of the fridge. We’re guilty, too, and as much as you might want to salvage that long-forgotten bit of stuffing, it’s definitely not edible (you probably should have frozen it). Is there a chance that cranberry dressing is still good? Yes, but do you really want to risk it? Throw it all in the trash, or add to the compost pile if you’ve got one.

2. Nearly Empty Condiment Containers

While you’re in the fridge, take stock of your condiments. Do you have three bottles of almost-empty ketchup? Consolidate what you can and go ahead and toss anything that’s past its expiration date. If you’ve got a jar of nearly gone mustard, add some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper; give it a good shake; and presto! You’ve got vinaigrette for your next salad.

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

3. Wilted Herbs

There are few things sadder than a crisper drawer full of wilted greens and herbs. If you can revive them, do it (with an ice-cold water bath); if you can’t, it’s the trash bin or the compost pile (and a pinky swear to never let good greens go to waste again!).

4. Lonely Ice Pops

Here’s another item that seems to linger way beyond the season, at least in my house: ice pops. By now you’re dreaming of hot chocolate anyway, so it’s OK to let go of these to clear room in the freezer for the stocks and casseroles you’ll want to heat up on a chilly day.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

5. Old Ice

Have you ever used ice that’s been hanging out in your freezer since who-knows-when? It’s not good. If you’re like me, you probably have the ice of holidays past jamming up your freezer. Instead of letting it continue to hang out there for the next six months, let the ice melt and use it to water your houseplants.

6. Spent Candles

Cinnamon, spruce, and peppermint are all lovely scents — but they’re pretty played out by the end of the season. And so are those candles that are burnt down to the nubs. Instead of holding on to them until next year, scoop out the wax and recycle or donate the container.

7. Leftover Wine

It took me a long time to be mature enough to do this, but if there are only about two sips of any kind of liquor left in a bottle, know that it’s OK to pour it down the drain and toss the bottle in the recycling bin. The same goes for wine that you won’t drink within the next week. If you feel bad about wasting it, you can also put all the leftovers into a single bottle until you’ve got enough to make your own vinegar.

(Image credit: Zoeytoja)

8. All the Sauce Packets

Every time I order takeout, I have leftover packets of soy sauce and mustard that I keep, and keep, and keep — thinking that I will remember to sprinkle one or two onto my lunch one day. I would say there’s about a 1% chance that I do that and so, I’m prepared to let these go.

9. Packaged Cutlery

Here’s another takeout extra I hold onto, but in my commitment to using reusable cutlery whenever possible, I rarely dip into my drawer of pre-packaged silverware, and certainly not once picnic season has passed. Donate what you have, and start requesting no cutlery when you get delivery.

10. Coupons, Receipts, and Assorted Menus

Does your junk drawer have a pile of receipts you no longer need? Expired coupons? Menus from restaurants you have NEVER ordered from? Go ahead and recycle what you can and throw the rest out.

What else do you purge from your kitchen leading into the New Year?