I love everything about holidays starting with Thanksgiving. They bring me so much joy. It seems to me as though there’s a constant flurry of activity for about 6 weeks and then it stops. There’s the cooking and baking of holiday treats and yummy meals. Putting up decorations, inside and out. Shopping for gifts to give and receiving some, too. Visiting with friends and family. Now the holidays are over and it’s time to get back to business. First, though, it’s important to undo all the holiday decorating, put things away, and declutter after the holidays.
Before you start to declutter after the holidays, take a moment to review your reasons for undertaking this task. It’s always easier to stick with a project when you know why you’re doing it.
Next get out all your holiday decoration storage boxes and bring them to a staging spot, probably somewhere in the living room or family room.
Where to start decluttering after the holidays?
Outside lights and other decorations
Removing the outside lights and other decorations is easier to do with help. If you have a spouse, partner, or children ask them to get involved with this process. If you don’t have something to wrap the lights around, consider using a stiff wire hanger. This will also make it easier to install the lights when the holidays roll around next winter. Store the lights in a labeled container.
If you also decorate the outside with blow up figures, deflate them, carefully fold them, and store them in a clear plastic tub with a lid. Be sure to label the tub with a description of the figure.
Take down indoor holiday themed wreaths. Put them in clear garbage bags and store them in your garage, attic, or basement. It’s also time to remove any wreaths you have outside. If they are not artificial they can probably be recycled along with your real tree. Just remove any ribbon or fake berries.
I noticed this year that more and more people are sending out email greeting cards. Holiday cards, particularly the ones with photos, are sometimes difficult to part with. I used to put the pictures people sent me in a photo album when the cards had a photograph you could easily remove from the card. Now that the photo is part of the card, I don’t keep them anymore. My recommendation is to recycle the cards after you have enjoyed looking at them.
Mantle and Tabletop Decorations
Remove the holiday decorations.
Dust the table (take a minute to do this since there’s nothing on the surface).
Then find the decorations that belong on the mantle and the tabletops that you stored when you decorated for the holidays. Carefully store the holiday decorations from the mantle and the tabletops in the decoration storage box.
Take the ornaments off the tree and store them in the ornament’s storage box or boxes. I use 2 different kinds of storage boxes for my ornaments. One has three-layers of storage with each storage layer having about 18 square sections meant specifically to hold ornaments. This is perfect for most ornaments, particularly round ones.
The other storage box I use is simply a large, clear, plastic container. I put over-sized ornaments in this box between layers of tissue paper.
I always try to get every ornament off the tree before I take the tree down but inevitably, I miss one or two ornaments. This year I missed two.
I use an artificial tree which gets put away in a box and then stored in my garage. My tree came with lights on it. If you have an artificial tree that you put lights on or a real tree, take the lights off first. Follow the same procedure as with taking down the outside lights. Label them so you know these are for the indoor tree. Then take the tree down. Some areas pick up the trees and then chip them. Other areas recycle them. Still other areas have a central collection place for real Christmas trees.
Clean the floor where you had placed your tree before putting any furniture back.
Sometimes gifts and/or games are part of the decluttering after the holidays. Look around and notice if there are any gifts left to put away or find homes for.
Maybe there is no natural home for the gift that is left out.
Do you need to declutter a drawer, closet, or cupboard to make room for the gift you received?
Do you need to write thank you notes or emails to the people who sent you gifts?
Decluttering after the holidays is a project
This is not a project to conquer in a day. Schedule time to tackle one or two of these areas a day and you’ll be done before you know it without getting overwhelmed. Remember to clearly label storage containers so you know what’s in them when it comes time to decorate for the holidays again. Reach out to me if you’d like help tackling this or any other project in your home.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.