Clearing the Christmas Clutter

Laurie WallCleaning and Organization

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Christmas is over and the holiday season is winding down. Right now you might be in recovery mode, but soon enough you’ll have to think about clearing the clutter and packing away the decorations for next year.

If this seems completely overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. Countless families put off the task of cleaning after the holidays, partly out of a wish to prolong the spirit of the season and partly just due to simple procrastination. When you’re ready to tackle it, following these tips will make the job easier.

The Clutter

The holidays are especially good at creating clutter. Rather than trying to pack all of it away, your first order of business should be to figure out what you really want or need. 

  • Christmas cards: If you display the cards you receive from friends and family, try to resist the urge to save them as mementos of the holidays. Even photo cards can be tossed if it’s not someone you would usually want to keep a picture of. Recycle all but a few of the most meaningful cards. If you’re crafty, the cutest cards can be saved and cut out to make decorations and gift tags for next year.
  • Broken or unwanted decorations: Don’t waste time packing away decorations that are broken or no longer work, or that you haven’t used in a while. Toss anything that can’t be salvaged, and donate anything that can.
  • Unwanted Christmas presents: Nothing adds to clutter like things you don’t want or need. Once you’ve thanked someone for their gift, it serves no purpose to keep it if you really don’t like it. Donate anything you don’t want so that someone else can enjoy it.

The Decorations

There’s something of an art to putting away Christmas decorations, so that you don’t have to go through a mess next year when you go to put them up again. Here are a few tips that will help you with cleaning after the holidays.

  • Pack ornaments with next year in mind. Keeping each ornament in their original box might keep them safe, but it also makes setting up and taking down decorations much more time consuming. Instead, individual wrap ornaments in re-purposed wrapping paper or tissue paper, then layer them in storage totes. For additional padding, line the bottom of the tote with the Christmas tree skirt, or holiday linens such as kitchen towels or a throw.
  • Keep light strings from getting tangled. If you don’t have a reel for winding up Christmas lights, make your own with an empty wrapping paper tube or some paper towel tubes. Not having to untangle strings of lights will make decorating next year less of a headache.
  • Label everything. Next year when you haul out Christmas boxes to decorate again, you’ll want your job to be as easy as possible. Label them as you put everything away this year, so that you won’t have to play guessing games next year. Once you have an organizational system in place, it will make setting up and tearing down each year much easier.

The Guest Spaces

If you had house guests staying with you, you’ve got some extra cleaning after the holidays. Although it’s easy to put off cleaning a guest room. Try to resist procrastinating – or you may find you still haven’t done it by the next time you have house guests.

Here are a few tips to help you clean up after your guests.

  • Wash the sheets and towels. Whether you keep the guest bed and bath made up when not in use is up to you, but at least run all the linens through the wash so you don’t forget whether they’re clean. You can make the bed and hang the towels again once they’re clean, or just fold them and return them to the linen closet. If you don’t have guests over very often, they may need to be washed again anyway, to freshen them just before their next use.
  • Vacuum the guest room. While the sheets are in the wash, vacuum the guest room. If you have a vacuum with attachments, vacuum the mattress while it’s uncovered.
  • Put the room to rights. Make the bed, even if you don’t keep the sheets on it while not in use, so that it looks presentable. If the room serves another purpose when you don’t have guests, such as an office, return it to its normal state.

Until Next Year

Though Christmas is over with this year, cleaning after the holidays can be made more bearable by remembering that in only ten or eleven short months you’ll find yourself preparing for the holidays all over again. Best wishes in the New Year!

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