I love Christmas a lot. And I also love decorating my house for Christmas (wanna see? Family room, living room/mantel, dining room). Maybe a little too much, actually, but it’s only once a year so I don’t feel too bad about it.
Until it’s time to take it all down, that is.
New Year’s Day is generally my date to get Christmas taken down, though I don’t always get to it by January 1st. But as long as I do it before school starts up again, I’m happy. We won’t talk about the one year when I was pregnant and bedridden with Sophia and the Christmas decorations stayed up until March when my mom finally visited from out of state and packed it up for me.
This year, I had to get it down by December 30 because we were leaving on vacation. And, as usual, I was completely overwhelmed.
Overwhelming though it is, I do have a few tips for getting it all done in a streamlined and organized manner.
The first thing I do is gather every single decoration from all over the house and put them all in the same place. I use my dining room table because it is (almost) big enough to hold it all. I do not include the actual Christmas trees or Christmas tree decorations, as I save those until last.
Next, I make sure I have Sharpies, tape, and blank notecards (I actually just cut up some cardstock). Also, I prefer packing tape, but I apparently used it all for wrapping gifts because I was out of Scotch tape. So now I’m using Scotch tape when I’d prefer packing tape. Oh well, tape is tape, right?
Of course, right.
Next, I drag up all of the bins from the basement. Or make my husband do it for me. Usually a combination of the two. Once I have them up, I open all of them and start putting back any of my regular home decor that I took down to make room for Christmas. I make sure to store it all in the Christmas bins while it is on hiatus.
Once I have everything put back (unless a Christmas tree is in the way), I start packing all the stuff I’ve gathered on the dining room table.
I try to keep like items together as much as possible. Candles all go in the same bin, for instance.
But mostly, I just try to pack things in as effectively as possible, while still making sure fragile things are well protected.
As I pack up each bin, I keep a running list of what I put into that bin on a notecard.
Since I get rid of a few things and buy new ones each year, most of my bins have to be reorganized every year. But not always. Sometimes last year’s list still works perfectly.
I have so few decorations for Valentine’s Day that I just keep it in with Christmas. I guess I don’t love Valentine’s Day quite as much, but this method of organizing the decor sure helps me find the three decorations I do have when February rolls around.
But most bins are usually different each year. Also, this purple bin was the first bin I bought to store Christmas in when we were very first married. Once upon a time ALL of our Christmas decor fit into this one bin! You’ll see how absurd that is in a minute…
As I get bins fully packed, I start making a pile o’ Christmas bins. We haven’t even gotten started, though—all four trees are still up, and I still haven’t packed everything on the table yet!
Okay, now we’re finished. I didn’t take any photos of undecorating and packing away the trees, but I went through the same process. Though I do have boxes inside the bins that are also labeled things like “living room tree flowers” and “dining room tree ornaments” and so forth.
All ready to be dragged down to the basement!
That is 8 bins full of decorations, a wreath holder, four tree boxes, and a garbage bag to hold the last couple wreaths. Phewsh!
I have a storage room in my unfinished basement where all the holiday decor lives. The tree boxes fit nicely on the shelves, and it’s easy to stack the bins against the walls.
The only other major decorations I have are for fall…I am not quite as organized with those, but I do use the same basic methods.
Though I need to find a big garbage bag for the signs, and make my children stop getting into the costume box! (Do yours do that?)
Even though taking down the holiday is nowhere near as fun as putting it up, this method helps it go a little more smoothly for me. But where it REALLY helps is next year, when I’m putting it all back up again.
Since I put up the family room tree before Thanksgiving this year, it was super easy to find exactly what I needed without having to dig through 5 or 6 bins to find it all. And since I generally take three days or so to get Christmas all put up, I could do it more systematically instead of opening a bin and being completely surprised by its contents.
That is the benefit of organization!
Now to find a few more ways to organize my life in the New Year!
PS I keep the Christmas cards up through the end of January. I love looking at them, and many trickle in during the few weeks after Christmas, so it’s only fair.
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