Post-Holiday Cleaning & Storing Tips

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Christmas has come and gone, and the New Year festivities are finally over. It’s now time for the not-so-wonderful time of the year: the cleanup.

In our household, my uncle is our resident decorator during the holidays. After years of observing his methods, I’ve learned that cleaning up and organizing go hand-in-hand when it comes to Christmas clutter. Removing messes might be the point of cleaning, but it’s important that we keep our Christmas decorations in great condition so that we can use them again next year. It’s practical, economical, not to mention environment-friendly.

With pointers from my uncle, here are some tips on how you can efficiently clean up and organize your holiday decorations.

Cleaning Living Room Clutter

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It’s tempting to simply sweep all the clutter in a garbage bag and be done with it, but hold back the urge because not all Christmas wrapping materials are trash.

For example, check the wrappings of your Christmas baskets. Did it come with an actual basket, deco mesh, twine rope cord, and satin or tulle ribbons? These are items you can use in the future. Fish them out and keep them in your arts and crafts box.

Also, keep sturdy gift bags — especially if they don’t have Christmas-themed prints. They’re very handy when you need to bring knickknacks to work or school.

Here’s my clean-up tip: Sweep the clutter towards the center of the room. With a trash bag in hand, go through the pile and dispose of the non-reusable items, like torn gift wrappers. This spares you from going back and forth to the trash bin. After throwing them out, classify the remaining items and keep them in their respective storage spaces (ex: arts and crafts box, closet, etc.).

Storing Decorations

Christmas Lights

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There are two things you want to achieve when it comes to storing Christmas lights: avoid tangling and keep the bulbs intact. There are several ways to go about this.

You can use a tissue paper or kitchen towel core and wind the Christmas lights around it. To prevent the cord from sliding off, cut (2-3mm thick) on both ends of the core and wedge the wires in place. This is a practical alternative to scotch tape, which can leave a sticky residue on the cords.

If you don’t have tissue paper cores, recycle your gift boxes or shoe boxes. Cut out rectangular cardboard pieces, about four-by-eight inches wide, and use them in the same way as the tissue paper core.

If you have neither tissue cores nor cardboard, here’s what you can do: Lay the first bulb of the Christmas lights at the bottom of your palm and the second bulb at the top. Use your thumb to lock the middle wire in place. Pull the third bulb down with the first and the fourth bulb up with the second. Repeat until you have a neat bundle with two rows of bulbs.

Finally, take the long, bulb-less ends of the Christmas lights and wrap them around the center of the wire. Plug the socket ends to hold everything together.

Christmas Balls

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Christmas balls made of plastic, metal, or wood are easy to store. Place them in a sealed, plastic box and they’ll be good as new by December next year. You can also keep your fuss-free decorations (ex: stuffed ornaments, plastic candy canes) in the same container.

Delicate ornaments, however, like glass or ceramic Christmas balls, need padded, individual containers. To save on storage space and resources, use a sturdy, storage box and line the bottom with a bubble wrap, tissue paper, or newspapers.

Create DIY dividers from used cardboard (your leftovers from organizing Christmas lights will be perfect). The cubbies should be taller or of the same height as the ornaments to prevent scratching or breakage.

Christmas Tree

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When cleaning up and putting away your Christmas tree, do it by segment.

Dismantle the topmost section first.  Gently straighten the twigs and, following their natural direction, press them towards the center trunk. It should take the shape of a torch when you’re done. Wrap the entire thing with old newspapers or plastic shopping bags, and tie with a string or yarn. Do the same thing to the middle and bottom segments of the tree. When you’re done, it should be easier to pack the “torches” in a single box.

Glittered Decorations

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Glitter is very difficult to clean up, so make sure you keep glittered decorations in separate bags or containers. Also, group the items according to color. You’ll want to keep the silver snowflakes away from the red-glittered balls and green-glittered leaves. If you have lots of plastic bags at home, this is a good use for them.

A few final reminders:

  • Keep all your Christmas decorations in a dry and vermin-free place.
  • As much as possible, keep all decorations in stackable, plastic containers. They prevent damage and are easier to organize.

There you have it, my top tips on cleaning Christmas clutter and organizing decorations. Keep your trash to a minimum, organize decorations, and store them properly. Not only will your house be neat again, you’ll also save money in the long run.

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