I was tempted to put this post off another day, but it occurs to me that it will be useful to those who are working on this very thing on the first Saturday of January. Welcome to Day 3! Holiday decorations are so specific, it’s hard to offer any real advice, but I’m taking a big step back to hopefully help you declutter and organize as you put your decorations away this year. Today I’ll offer five steps to encourage you as you clean and declutter today.
Use Specific Bins for Your Holiday and Christmas Decor: One year after Christmas, I was at Lowes looking for something specific when these red and green totes caught my eye. They were on sale (like 75% off) and they came with cardboard dividers for ornaments. I bought three and when Roland saw them, he went out and bought three more. We try to fit all our Christmas decor in these six boxes. I’ve divided them by type so it’s easy to pull just the tote we need when we need it. These live in the attic 11 months out of the year and they spend December in the garage. I’ve divided them into the following categories: tree ornaments; lights, extension cords, swags and garlands; advent supplies and candle holders; books, music and cards; nativities (I think we have six or seven); and stockings, linens and snowmen. You might have more bins that me, you might have fewer. Either way is okay. Also, I don’t use everything I have every year. Some seasons (like this year) are busier than others and I just pull out the essentials: our best nativity, some ornaments, our stockings, lights on the mantle, lights at the front door and something festive in the entry.
Use Your Decluttering Strategies as You Put Things Away: I’ll be emptying out each bin, tossing any obvious garbage, fixing or tossing anything that’s broken and determining whether or not I really want to store that item for another year. Dana at the blog A Slob Comes Clean suggests: If things don’t fit in the container, don’t get a bigger container, declutter what you have so it will fit. Having those six bins really helps me keep my Christmas stash organized and keeps me from overdosing on clutter-y holiday joy each year.
Let it Go: Remember, as you put all the items in the bins, consider whether you’ve actually used those things in the last several years. If those snowmen are looking dated and you’d rather not have them on your counter through the holidays, maybe it’s time to either throw them away or donate them to the Goodwill. If that garland isn’t your style and it hasn’t seen the light of day in four years, it’s a good time to let it go. If you need an anthem to play while you’re letting your old stuff go, let me know and I’ll send you one!
Reuse What You Already Have: See that red cranberry garland? When Roland and I were first married, we bought three of those for our tree. As our trees have gotten bigger, we’ve collected a couple more, but we use them every year. The less new stuff you buy each year, the less you’ll have to store until next year. This is also why our trees are so sentimental. I can’t replace what I have because our ornaments are handmade by our kids, passed down from my childhood, crafted by my talented sister or collected from our travels. Here’s another hint: when you need to replace string lights, consider looking at estate sales in July. This is where I’ve found new sets of tree lights and outdoor lights for pennies on the dollar. I throw them up into the attic and I’m so pleased with myself come December.
Play the Long-view Decluttering Game: Okay, it may not be fair for me to bring this one up right now, but here goes. Each year my kids get an ornament in their stocking. It usually represents something they did or a place they traveled to that year. Eventually, when they move into their own homes, these ornaments will go with them along with the ornaments they made in school over the years. I see my own Christmas decor becoming very streamlined as I let them choose a nativity or two, and their favorite books, etc.
Let me know how all this goes for you! I will actually do my de-trimming later on this afternoon. The forecast calls for rain so maybe I’ll put a pot of soup on the stove, crank up the Christmas tunes for one last hurrah and put most of the decorations away. As I do that, I’ll be keeping some of the sparkle in the house just to maintain a little hygge until we have more hours of daylight. That means a few twinkle lights, candles, and cleared off spaces to make way for whatever the rest of January brings.