Usually I let Christmas linger until New Year’s day. But, while having coffee this morning I was looking around the house and felt a sudden urge to let Christmas go a little ahead of schedule this year. I’m not sure why that is, but in looking at several Facebook posts, I’m not alone.
(Possibly putting Christmas behind me is just a metaphor for all of 2017. It’s been an interesting, yet sometimes challenging, year. Parts of 2017 were great and I will carry those positives into 2018. Parts were not so great, and I will release them like that unnecessary ugly Christmas sweater.)
Back to letting Christmas go . . . . .
Here are a few tips I came up with this morning:
Get rid of it!: There are decorations that I’ve unboxed and re-boxed so many times I can’t remember. I’m committing to taking a long, hard look at what’s still in the decoration boxes before I add what I actually used this year. It will make things much easier to unpack and re-pack next year if there’s just less stuff.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you or someone in your home love it? If it holds great memories and you decorate with it every year, pack it up.
- Has it been trapped in a storage container year-after-year-after-year? If that’s the case, it’s probably not your style and doesn’t hold great memories. Give it away. Someone else will cherish it.
- Has someone you know admired the decoration? Ask them if they want it. Gifting items to someone who has admired them is an easy way to release things that no longer serve us.
- Is there a local charity, church, etc. that could use the decorations? Gifting things to those that can’t afford them brings extra honor to the decorations. (NOTE: Most charities will gladly accept Christmas decorations even at the end of the season, but it’s best to check before you try to drop them off.)
If you’re keeping it, store smartly: Storing Christmas decorations by zone will make the decorating process so much easier next year! When you are ready to decorate next year, the mantle box goes by the mantle, the front entry box goes in the front entry, the tree decorations go by the tree, etc. That way, the decorations are exactly where you need them when you are ready to decorate that area.
Speaking of storing, there are nearly as many ways to store decorations as there are decorations themselves!
Specialty containers like these from the Container Store can be extremely functional, but not very cost-effective.
Other simple solutions:
Wrap lights around cardboard, use an extension cord holder, or for larger quantities, utilize a hose reel. Check it out.
Liter-size water bottles work well to hold beaded garland.
Plastic produce clam-shell containers from warehouse stores are fantastic for glass ornaments.
Egg cartons work well for small, breakable ornaments.
For larger items (I have a collection of Santa decorations that are 12”-16” tall), I like to use containers like these. By not using holiday-specific organizers, you can use them for other purposes should you choose to downsize your decorations.
Traditions and events: What traditions served you well this year? Did everyone still enjoy trekking into the woods for the Christmas tree? Was neighborhood caroling a big hit? Midnight/sunrise service still magical? Was the neighborhood party a success? Was attending the Nutcracker worth the time and expense? If so, plan it again for next year. If not, let it go. No need to do things “because we’ve always done it that way.”
Holiday Cards: Get rid of all the cards that you don’t connect with; keep the ones that do. I like to keep holiday cards that have family photos. It’s super-fun for me to go back and look at how families have grown and changed over the years. I also keep any hand-made cards. Having made a few cards myself, I know the time and energy it takes to produce those cards (Plus, sometimes I can re-purpose those beautiful cards into new cards. Upcycling at its best.)
Before you throw envelopes away, don’t forget to check return addresses. This is the perfect time of year to ensure your records are up-to-date.
Going through the sort, purge, and store process probably isn’t the most fun thing you will do this holiday season, but it could very well be the best gift you could give yourself come holiday time next year!
Happy New Year, everyone!
National Association of Professional Organizers, Seattle Chapter Vice President