A good way to de-clutter the house this time of year is to collect stray objects and hang them on the Christmas tree.

A good way to de-clutter the house this time of year is to collect stray objects and hang them on the Christmas tree. In truth, this practice won't rid you of all clutter, but I consider even a small victory over clutter an important step in this junked-up world. We've actually done this in my house. It works, especially if you have kids.

Here are some things that make good ornaments:


Children's art
Every parent has lumpy pots, misshapen animals and other precious sculptures that the kids have produced in art classes. It's impossible to discard them because that raises a classic parental fear: If you throw away something your child made, the child will be devastated, lose all sense of self-worth and start using heroin and worshipping Satan.

But if you hang these items on the tree, you are actually honoring the young artist, while still getting his creations out of the way. And now you've made them Christmas ornaments, which means they can be tucked away 11 months of the year.


Happy Meal toys
Here we have the world's most appalling products. They lure kids into eating badly. They're probably produced by Chinese peasants making nine cents an hour. They're invariably tied in to some dumb movie that Hollywood cranked out to further diminish American culture. And they will sleep in a landfill for eternity once their 20 minutes of play value have been used up.

So hang them on the tree, and you'll at least address the landfill issue. These toys are small, colorful and easily modified to make them seasonally appropriate. (Just glue a little cotton-ball beard on Astro Boy and call him Astro Claus.)


Name badges
I don't mind tossing out those sticky paper name tags you paste on a shirt pocket. But the really nice ones that come with plastic sleeves and lanyards are difficult for me to discard. So I've been known to hang them on the tree.
Granted, you want to exercise moderation here.

A tree full of nothing but "Hello My Name Is" badges would look egotistical. But a half dozen of them judiciously distributed just blend into the background and remind you of all the seminars you attended in the past year.


Photos
Kids get their pictures taken now for everything: school, sports teams, musical groups. They're photographed more than Barack Obama. And every photo package comes with 90 wallet-size portraits.

Consequently, every family has a drawer full of pictures that will never see the light of day. They simply must go on the Christmas tree. Put them in little Popsicle-stick frames, attach a loop of yarn and you have instant keepsake ornaments.


Cosmetic items
Little girls especially seem to generate a lot of cheap bracelets, rings, hair clips and other trinkets. These things were practically made for Christmas trees. Get them on there now before the dog eats them and has to be endoscoped by the vet to the tune of $1,200.

In short, look at everything as a potential Christmas ornament. Or as I like to say: Deck the halls by uncluttering the house.