I'm probably waaaay behind the power curve (and disclosing my complete slacker status) with this post as most of you probably packed up the tinsel weeks ago. But if there happens to be any fellow Christmas clean-up procrastinators out there, this one's for you!
I shared this photo on IG and it sounds like a least a few of you have similar looking dining rooms at the moment:
I finally finished purging, organizing, and boxing it all up yesterday and feel like I can breath again. I did things a little differently than years past and thought I would break down that simple process today for anyone that needs a little encouragement.
The end of the season is always a good time to take a look at what you have, what you actually used, and what things you most enjoyed or added to the season. We're at a point that we're craving more simplicity in basically every facet of our lives, Christmas decorating included. I used a lot more greenery than I have in years past and want to go more that direction in the future. Less chotchkies, more natural elements and accenting what's already there. Hopefully that translates to less to pack/store!
I already purged quite a bit when we moved, but it seems every season we find or receive new things to add to the decor stash. Which means we need to weed out some of the old if we don't want to end up adding a bin to our supply every year.
If anything was broken, crunched, missing pieces, or otherwise falling apart it went in the trash. If I haven't glued on St. Joseph's head by now then it's probably not ever going to happen. In the past I haven't put out every single thing from the bins. So this year, If there was anything I left in the bin for 2 years in a row (or more) it went to a donation box. Even if it was something I really liked.
Wipe everything down
Let's face it. Our Christmas stuff stays out for a good number of weeks and even if we dust/clean during that time, there's still plenty of dust o' gathering. No one wants to crack open a decor bin come next Christmas to be greeted with a nice puff of dust. Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like an allergy fit.
This year I dusted most of the decor items with a Swiffer duster, but I took an antibacterial wipe to all the kids stuff so that I could be assured everything was clean and ready to be played with when I pull it out next year.
For those cloth items like stockings and hand sewn decorations, I used a sticky roller to get off any lingering dust/fuzz.
Separate Into Categories
I started our Christmas take-down by directing the kids to go through the house, grab anything that qualified as "Christmas", and bring it to the dining room table. From there I purged out the trash/donate items and was left with what we planned to keep.
I could have just started packing it away and making a list of what was in each bin, but I thought I would try to make things a little easier on myself next year. I started by sorting all the items into categories which ended up being Tree Decorations, Kids decorations, Advent Items, Books/Puzzles, and General decor.
This gave me a better idea of how many bins I would need and in what size.
Box it up
There were some great comments on FB/Instagram about how to categorize and box up all your merry stuff. Dwija said something that really made sense for me: some of us decorate in one fell swoop and others of us decorate over the course of days/weeks. So she packs bins according to how they decorate in phases.
I realized that my categories had fallen into a similar pattern. We don't always put up Christmas and Advent at the same time, so dedicating the Advent items (Advent wreath, Giving Manger, Advent cards, Calendar) to their own box will make it much easier than trying to pull those items out of a larger bin. On the same note, we usually spend a day finding and decorating the tree, another to the outdoor decorations, and yet another to sprucing the rest of the interior. So, everything we need for each of those events is together.
It's not that I didn't do this in the past, it's that I would put multiple categories into one big box, so the stockings and Elf would be in with the tree stuff, and I wasn't necessarily ready to put them all up at the same time. Which meant the bin stayed out longer, half-emptied until I was ready to put out the rest. Keeping the categories for each bin more specific and their containers smaller if needed was a key change that will hopefully make things easier in the long run.
I ended up with 1 large bin for the tree decorations/ornaments, 1 large bin for general decor, 1 medium bin for kid stuff, 1 medium bin for books and puzzles, 1 small bin for Advent, and another small bin for my white ceramic village. Within the bins I used smaller boxes and plenty of zip lock bags to keep items organized and contained.
I know many people have specific wreath holders (which I may invest in someday) but for now I stack mine inside a large trash bag and tie it up.
It doesn't have to be fancy, but somehow creating a label that details what's inside each bin will make it super easy to grab what you need. Next year I might be more motivated to create something cute, but this year I just used a sharpie and some large note cards. I taped the labels on the outside of the larger solid bin and slipped them on the inside of the clear bins. Then I moved them down to the basement and called it done!
That pic was taken before I brought down the wreath bag and our outdoor decorations (2 light-up skinny trees, 2 light up deer, and one XL ziplock bag of bows/garland). And I actually feel pretty good about bringing it all back up in approximately 354 days #dontfreakout
Hope that helps some of you that may not know where to start! Or just be dragging your feet like me. I admit the clean up sucks, but it sure does feel good to have a blank slate again. Feel free to share any of your tips in the comments!
We'll be back later this week with an update on our entry. 3 months ago we had a major bathroom leak that damaged the last section of old flooring in the house (and thankfully didn't touch any of the new flooring!) and after working through some kinks, we've finally landed on a new plan. So excited!