We all look forward to decorating for the holidays. But there’s another job once the holidays are behind us—putting it all away…to declutter. The job is made more difficult because you’ve likely acquired more decorations that will need to be stored until this time next year. You’ve received gifts that will need space in your closet, kitchen, garage, or on some flat surface.  

Corral it

Just as soon as you pack away all the Christmas decorations, you’ll see one lone angel sitting on a table that you should have put in the box now located in the attic. Start by going room-by-room collecting everything that needs to be put away.

Make decisions

When it’s all in one place, it’s easier to make decisions about handling duplicates and items which have outgrown their usefulness. Label a big box “Donate.” Start filling it with items that someone else would enjoy but no longer have space to store or a space to display.

Freshen up

What items need some “freshening up” before being displayed next year? Do you need more ribbon or another box of hooks for the tree next year? Make a note of those things as you go. You won’t remember 10 months from now, so write it down now while you’re thinking about it. Grab those items at an after-Christmas sale or put it on the list to buy in November of next year.

Be good to your future self

Remember, you will be doing this again next year. So, take time to make next year’s decorating and un-decorating easier.

Label it

For example, I have quite a few ornaments which store in protective Styrofoam containers. But figuring out which ornament fits in which container was a challenge. An additional hurdle was figuring out how the ornament needed to be turned in order to fit. A few minutes spent labeling the boxes and writing instructions has saved me time every year since.

What else needs to be labeled? Next year, when you see boxes clearly labeled with what’s in them and where they go, your future self will thank you.

Remove batteries

Do any of the decorations have batteries? Take them out. Nobody wants to face corroded batteries 10 or 11 months from now.

Store in tubs

Buy a few tubs. Plastic storage tubs are inexpensive and worth their weight in gold. In our garage, any tub that’s orange with a black lid contains fall decorations. Red tubs with green lids contain Christmas decorations. Pulling it all out next year becomes easy. 

Make decisions

What are you going to do with the Christmas cards you received? Trash them? Put them in a memory box? Re-read them in a month and keep a few selected ones? Make a decision and make it happen.

Did you receive a gift that needs to be returned? Was something the wrong size? Put the items to be returned in one place and put a day on the calendar to handle all returns in one trip.

Are you out of storage space? Your new stuff needs a place to go. Declutter and reclaim some of it. Now is a good time to empty drawers one-by-one to see what’s lurking in the back. You’ll find candidates for the “Donate” box, and perhaps some forgotten treasures you haven’t seen in years.

Things you don’t need cost you. They take up valuable storage space. It’s living “rent-free.” Declutter and get rid of the freeloaders. If it doesn’t do you any good, send it on its way and reclaim the space for something else.

We love to decorate; we hate to take it down. But if we make the latter easy, we’re more likely to be like “Larry the Cable Guy” and “Get ‘er done.”