Un-Deck the Halls: Organize Your Holiday Décor
There’s no place like home for the holidays … until it’s time to clean up the aftermath. The beautiful tree full of ornaments, the twinkling lights, the various decorative items, the pile of new presents; it all goes from holiday cheer to organizational fear when you’re the one responsible for putting it away.
Sure, you could toss it all into bins, push everything into the basement, and hope for the best next year, but future you will be so disappointed when she remembers what you’ve done.
Yes, you can untangle the Christmas lights again next year, but is that the best use of your time and energy? Give yourself the gift of peace by getting organized as you clean up after the holidays.
Take down the tree
Putting the tree up is a lot more fun than taking it down. If you’ve never at least momentarily considered dragging the entire setup, ornaments and all, out to the curb in a Grinch-like fit of post-holiday exhaustion, then congratulations on an impressive level of patience. Keep up the good work by having a plan for dismantling the tree and its décor.
Everything takes on an air of sentimentality around the holidays – take advantage of your desire to un-deck the halls by carefully evaluating everything as you pack it up. If any of your ornaments are damaged, or just not all that meaningful or beautiful anymore, add them to a donation box. You won’t even remember the loss by the time the next holiday season rolls around, but your storage space will benefit from these small actions.
Use a box with dividers to pack and store ornaments; wine boxes work well if you don’t want to purchase a commercially available ornament organizer. Wrap the ornaments in tissue paper before nestling them into their assigned sections. Egg cartons can serve a similar purpose for smaller ornaments, and stack nicely on top of one another. Beaded garlands can be wrapped around empty water bottles or paper towel tubes.
Spot clean your tree skirt as necessary and store it inside of a spare pillowcase before placing it in a bin. It will feel nice to start next year off right.
Strings of holiday lights can quickly become problematic if they’re not put away carefully. Aside from getting tangled, bulbs can break or get lost, fuses disappear, and it’s hard to know what you need at the start of each season until you start unwinding wires and plugging them in.
Resist the urge to wad them in a huge ball and toss them in a box. Save future you some frustration by packing them properly. Cut evenly sized cardboard panels from all those extra Amazon boxes, and carefully wind the lights’ wires around each one before stacking them carefully inside of a box. Add all extra bulbs and fuses to a sandwich bag and store those together with the lights.
Holiday decorations mysteriously manage to multiply over the years. Be critical about what you choose to keep; not everything deserves a long-term place in your life. Consider the value of enjoying an uncluttered storage area on a year-round basis and be realistic about how much holiday cheer you can accommodate.
Invest in a set of similarly sized plastic bins that are stackable and sturdy and keep like items together. Use a label maker, or index cards and packing tape to identify what’s inside each bin.
If you’re anything like most households, your garbage and recycling bins are overflowing in the days after Christmas. Put extra cardboard boxes to use by assigning one to each family member and suggesting that they find an item or two to donate for each new gift they’re bringing into their space.
Turn it into a competition by offering an imaginary “Philanthropist of the Year” award for whoever donates the most. Once the boxes are full, don’t fall into the trap of letting them hang out in the foyer or in the trunk of your car – take them to a charitable drop-off location immediately!
While it’s true that the holidays are a lot of work when it’s all said and done, you’re creating magic, meaning, and memories along the way. That’s more valuable than any craft or piece of décor.
Turn the act of packing up the holidays into part of the tradition. Make a list of what you need to accomplish your organizational goals, take the time to do it right, and give what you no longer need to people who would be pleased to have it.
Last, but certainly not least, imagine how happy future you will be with current you when she begins her search for the holiday spirit next year!