If you want to tackle organizing your holiday decorations and storage space this year, we’ve got the checklist to help you get it done. Tackle one item a day if you prefer the low stress approach and letting the holiday linger a little longer, or tackle this checklist all in one day to make a clean sweep for the New Year. (If you love to hit the post-holiday sales, you might want to skip to Day 12 right away.)
Day 1: While the house is still decorated, evaluate your storage space or spaces and go through any leftover decorations that didn’t get used this year. Do you still need them? Will you use them again next year or do you want to keep them for sentimental reasons? Donate or get rid of anything you don’t know you’ll use again. If you pulled holiday items from a number of different places this year, is there any way you could re-organize your storage and consolidate so everything is in one place? Look for a spot in the back of a closet or on a top shelf since these items are only used once a year, that allows you to put other storage items that are used more often in the easier to reach spots.
Day 2: Clean and store away special holiday dishes and serving utensils. If you don’t have a hutch or china cabinet where the good dishes are displayed year round, invest in a set of storage containers to keep them dust-free and protect them from chipping. Be sure they’re in a spot where nothing could drop on them from above when you’re accessing other items in your storage space.
Day 3: Gather up leftover wrapping paper rolls and any gift bags or special decorations you want to save and re-use for the next holiday. You can hide away rolls of wrapping paper in a storage box under the bed or in the back of a closet. For ribbons, bows and bags – either fit them in the same space or choose to pack them away in a holiday tote so it’s easy to evaluate what is available when it’s time to wrap the next batch of gifts.
Day 4: You may already utilize software or an online card service to maintain your holiday card list but if you don’t, or you enjoy looking at holiday cards from year to year, a card keeper can be a handy way to maintain your card list. Store cards, envelopes, and letters away with any blank cards you have to send next year. Bring it out when it’s time to send cards and you can be sure you won’t forget anyone on your list.
Day 5: When it’s time to start taking trimmings off the tree and any greenery you may have decorated an ornament storage box is a true space saving addition to your holiday storage system. Eliminate multiple cardboard or plastic boxes and place each ornament into its own protected compartment. You won’t have to worry about broken ornaments or trying to balance an armful of boxes when it’s time to decorate the tree again.
Day 6: Tangled light strands are great for comedy on t.v. shows during the holidays, but not so much fun when you’re trimming your tree. Take the hassle out of adding lights and garlands to your tree next year by storing them on cord wraps in a box that keep each strand separated. You can even place the plugs on lights so you can test them to be sure they work before you add them to the tree.
Day 7: When it’s finally time to say goodbye to the tree, look for a city service or nature center where you can donate your real tree so that it is turned into mulch or wild bird habitat if possible. For artificial trees, the box they came in often doesn’t have the same life expectancy as the tree itself. If your box is worse for wear, you can replace it with a tree storage bag to keep dust and dirt at bay.
Day 8: Figurines, stockings, candy dishes, and other special decorations placed around the house can be consolidated into a storage tote to make them easier to move in and out of storage each year. Nest delicate items in the tote inside their original packing or boxes and protect other items with leftover bubble wrap or clean newsprint to prevent chipping.
Day 9: Wreaths are an awkward shape for storage, and prone to crushing or having decorations damaged if you don’t have a good storage spot. Custom wreath boxes are the way to go – choose from a square box that will integrate with the rest of your storage totes easily on shelves, or choose a round box that can be stored upright in a narrower space or even hung on the wall if you have a long hook.
Day 10: If you hosted a number of guests over the holidays or like to switch out linens and towels for the season, you can minimize the amount of storage you need for those items and store them practically anywhere by packing them away in Space Bags.
Day 11: To extend the life of your outdoor decorations, resist the temptation to leave them outside until spring. If the weather permits, bring lights and extension cords back inside and store them away in a light box. Pack away smaller decorations or inflatables in storage totes. Large decorations or structures may need dedicated space in the garage, storage shed, or basement – make use of hooks and racking systems where you can in order to get items off the floor and make room for additional seasonal storage.
Day 12: Once everything is put away take an inventory – you probably had ideas for things you’d like to change for next year, or items that need to be replaced like light strands that don’t work or garland that has seen better days. Take your checklist and hit the after season sales either in stores or on the internet and stock up for next year, or paperclip it to your calendar for November 2012 so you can shop early and have everything in place when you’re ready to decorate again.