Thursday, January 2, 2014

Undecking Those Halls Part II - Putting Away Your Christmas Stuff So You Can Find It Next Year

In Undecking Those Halls Part I, I talked about the chore it can be once the holidays are over to undecorate the home.

But over the years, I've gotten a little smarter and more efficient with the process of undecking the halls. It's not perfect and I'm sure I'll tweak things in years to come, but I'm convinced that with a little forethought, undecking as well as decking for next year will be much smoother.  My hope is that in reading this post you'll laugh a little, say "me too" a little, and find some inspiration that will help lighten your load as you undeck your own halls. Below is the system that's making my life easier as I forge forward into the New Year.

Number One:

HAVE A PLAN

Before you grab one ornament off that Christmas tree, have a mental plan of where all your decorations are going to go. This is important because in your zeal to get the house back into its pre-holiday state, you can be tempted like I was to just grab things and stuff them in boxes. So from the start, think about categorizing your decorations so that when you store them, like things will be with like things. Also think about the best location in your home to store the items. I used to store our Christmas stuff in a remote closet upstairs. This became a drag because then we had to haul these big boxes down the stairs. And once the boxes were emptied, we had to haul them back up again. So for ease of retrieval, we store them on the first level where there is a closet under the staircase. The Christmas decorations are kept in the back since we only need them once a year. Planning may take some extra mental effort, but it will be well worth it and save you valuable time next year. This leads to Number Two.

Number Two:

THINK OF NEXT YEAR

This overlaps with Number One. As you develop your plan and begin the undecking process, don't just think of the relief you'll feel after putting everything away for this year. Think about next year and the ease with which you want to be able to find all your Christmas and holiday decorations.  If everything is just stuffed in anonymous boxes helter skelter, then next year the decorating process will be a potential nightmare. There's not much joy in rummaging through boxes trying to find a needle in a haystack.  So imagine that it's next November (or earlier for some people). The songs of Christmas are wafting through the air, and you're beginning to feel that holiday zeal flowing through your veins. Instead of foraging through boxes looking for your favorite Nutcracker CD and the decorations for the tree, you'll have a system in place that allows you to retrieve them immediately. Won't that be amazing? In order for this to happen, you must plan for next year this year.  So do it now, and in a year from now, you'll be so glad you did.

Number Three:

HAVE A STORAGE SYSTEM THAT WORKS FOR YOU

This is crucial, and the emphasis is on the words for you. There are a multitude of storage containers at the stores to select from. But it's important to assess your storage needs as well as storage space to determine what works in your individual situation. If you go buying a bunch of containers without doing an assessment first, you can end up wasting money.

The above container is one of several I use to house sundry Christmas items. It is a 35 gallon tub I purchased from Walmart. I've also collected some over the years from the thrift store.  I use this container to store bags which hold different items. I purchase the bags from Ross for $1 (see below). They're big and have cute designs. I also use old gift bags.  These bags are great for containerizing and separating items. That way everything's not just dumped inside and it makes for easy retrieval.

Bags separate items within the 35 gallon container to keep it organized

      These containers were purchased from the Dollar Store. I used
       them to hold all the Christmas music CD's. They were available
 in green and red which worked out great theme-wise.

This bag holds decorations for centerpieces and table decor


Each bag contains a different category. I use one bag for ornaments. Another bag for centerpieces.  Another bag for the tree skirt and my Nativity sets, etc.














I store my wrapping paper in this great bag from Calico Corners. It is roomy and lengthy. Before using this, I purchased an expensive wrapping paper container years ago from Joanne's Craft Store. It was nice, but it was not roomy or tall enough. So this bag has served me well. The prior planning paid off really well this year as we wrapped gifts. All the boxes, tissue paper, gift bags and gift tags were in the same place. I can't tell you how thrilling that was as opposed to years past. "Mom, where's the gift tags?" "Do we have any tissue paper?"



Number Four:

LABEL, LABEL, LABEL!

Containers are wonderful but an unlabeled container is like a black hole. You open your closet and all you see is mystery containers. So take the guesswork out and make it easy on yourself. Label everything. Label the outside of the container. And inside the container you can label sub-containers. If you want to buy a fancy label machine, fine. But if you're on a budget like me, print out your categories at home, then use mailing tape to adhere the label to the container. It works perfectly and it's uber cheap!


Number Five:

RECRUIT HELP

Don't go it alone. If you have children who are older, have them help you. Even little ones can help take down ornaments.  I will be recruiting my whole family in the process. Don't wait for them to volunteer. If I waited for my crew to volunteer, the decorations would be up all year. At the same time, don't order them to help. You can catch more flies with honey. So for my family, prior notice is always the best plan of action. Since my kids are high school and college age and have busy schedules, I have to consider what their availability is and let them know I'll be needing their help. I also have to think who will be best at what job. My one daughter is great at organizing, while the other is better at just taking things down without making it too complicated. And my tall men-folk are good for reaching the higher places.


Hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. What about you?  How do you keep your Christmas stuff organized? Please share with us, and by all means, post some pictures!


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