Marie Kondo On What Sparks Holiday Joy, Her Gifting Strategy  

(and, of Course, How She Wraps Them All)

It should come as no surprise that for the peerless queen of organization and the world’s most famous tidier, one of her most cherished holiday traditions has to do with—you guessed it—cleaning up. “At the end of December, we thoroughly clean the entire house, from the windows and hallways to the bathrooms, all with the help of our children,” shares Kondo, adding this is in fact a common tradition throughout Japan. It’s widely considered a way of preparing for the New Year, and in Kondo’s family she adds her own signature twist. “As we welcome the New Year each of us imagines our ideal year ahead and we all go through the process of letting go of items that no longer spark joy,” says Kondo, adding that since her children are still young, she helps them with the process. “By doing so, we increase family conversations about what each of us values.” 

“Does it spark joy” is a question Kondo ponders not only in the context of cleaning, but also when it comes to gifting; she ponders what would achieve that effect for each recipient. “I recall specific details about their daily routines, living quarters, and interests: how much space do they have, what activities do they like to do, what objects do they treasure,” says Kondo, adding that once you’ve considered the details of their day-to-day, you can search for that joy-sparking present. Once Kondo does find the perfect gift there is only one way she presents it, and it doesn’t involve your average printed paper: she is known for wrapping everything with furoshiki, the traditional squares of Japanese fabric. “I love them because they’re the ultimate example of minimalism in Japanese aesthetics,” says Kondo. They also, it should be pointed out, look much tidier than the usual gift-wrapping job.