Even though you know you've got your work cut out for you, there's a sense of anticipation when it's time to haul out your Christmas knick-knacks to set up for the holidays. But when December 25th comes and goes, and most of the excitement fizzles out like bubbles from an open bottle of champagne, how do you bring yourself to pack the festive season away?
Being organized and having your storage materials ready in advance can help. With a bit of prep, your post-Christmas decluttering could be much more straightforward than last year, and those new trinkets and lights you bought will remain in tip-top condition until next year.
Christmas should be a time for gratitude, so it can feel awful when you have so much food piled up in your fridge that some is going bad. There's only so much you and your household can eat, but you can take steps to prevent waste. Start by freezing what you can—wrap the excess turkey in saran wrap and aluminum foil and keep for up to a month. You can also freeze cranberry sauce, Christmas pudding, stuffing, and roast potatoes.
Avoid food spoiling by buying disposable containers your guests can use for doggy bags of their favorite dishes. When you've gathered your strength and are tired of eating the same meals, look for recipes to zhuzh up the leftovers that have got to go.
All those gifts you received come wrapped and boxed. Put the wrapping paper into your recycling bin along with holiday retail catalogs. Sure, you could save some for an art project with your niece, but ask yourself how likely you are to flex your crafting muscles. If the answer is a shrug, it's gotta go.
Keep instruction manuals and warranty cards in a dedicated folder or container, take pictures if necessary, and break up all the boxes for recycling, except the ones that house items you plan to return or sell in a year or so. If you're not the nostalgic type, take pictures of your Christmas cards and add those to the recycling pile.
It happens. Beloved Christmas decorations don't fit your aesthetic anymore or take up too much space in your attic when you're trying to downsize. As soon as your baubles fail to fill you with a sense of festive wonder, it's time to let them go.
You've used them one last time, and now you can donate your colorful fairy lights to a charity shop, or sell your Spode's china, wooden sleds, wire reindeer, and snow globes online for a bargain price to brighten up someone else's holiday. Kids can sell their unwanted toys too.
Spreading the joy of Christmas is as simple as gathering unopened, unused items in your home for donation. Everyone can poke about in their closets for presents from this year or last year that are nice but superfluous.
If kids do it before the holidays, they may be able to fulfill someone's wish through programs like the Salvation Army's Walmart Angel Tree. Check the guidelines for various programs. If the original gift-giver is likely to follow up and ask about a particular present, you'll have to devise a game plan and weigh the consequences of re-gifting.
Pack your decorations away by room using durable, stackable containers. Wrap fragile items in newspaper and arrange your fairy lights around storage reels or paper towel tubes with grooves cut in them to prevent tangling.
Put your artificial tree in a bag, not a box, and buy a bauble case with dividers for the ultimate convenience. You can use egg cartons, cookie tins, and shoe boxes for small bits and bobs.
You can hang a Christmas wreath on a basic clothes hanger using twine or zip ties, with a trash bag as a protective covering. Or, if you've got the budget, buy a wreath storage container. Trash bags also work for bigger lawn items. Label the bag and store it in your garage or basement.
Wrap garlands and pop them in air-tight plastic containers so they don't become dusty.
Local libraries and community centers often set up bartering stations or drop-and-shop stalls for holiday goods and decor. Make a solemn promise not to return with more stuff than you took to the event, and you should come away pleased as punch.
These initiatives are great examples of reducing and reusing for a sustainability-focused lifestyle.
Once you've edited and cut down on the inventory going back into your storage nooks, make it easy to find everything next year. Be specific with your labels. Use a permanent marker to indicate each box's contents; don't just write "lights," for example—specify whether they're for the porch or balcony.
No one looks forward to the post-Christmas clean-up. It's a schlep. So, how could you make it fun? Many hands may make light work of the job, especially if you go in with a plan and all your supplies are ready and waiting.
Blast some music, incentivize the labor with the best beverages and food you can think of (or, hey, some leftovers), and turn Operation Un-Christmas into a party.
Clearing digital holiday clutter from your personal and work inboxes is one way to kick off your New Year's resolutions before the new year even begins. After hitting unsubscribe and delete, turn your attention to your at-home office space. You can Marie Kondo your way to donating or selling books, stationery, and underused appliances. Oh, and toss out those dead pens!