The Organizing Process – A Key to Post Holiday Sanity

Tear-down Time

Tear-down Time

Yes, I know we are a few days into the new year, but if you are still working on putting away your Christmas and other Holiday decorations, you are in good company!  I LOVE my Christmas decor and I truly lament taking it down and putting it all away for another year.  Not that I mind the actual ‘work’, because over the years I have created a pretty efficient process of stashing our stuff.  I even synchronize the boxes for each of the various holiday themes so that the next holiday boxes are the first to get to in the closet.  But, it just seems that while my kids are home on Christmas break, the extra twinkle from the holiday lights, candles and gold, red and silver trimmings are such a spark to our days and nights.

However, the reality is that come the first Monday morning after New Years Day – back to our work and school routines – the decor will be outdated and feel more like a burden than a blessing.  So, even though one year I waited until February to take down my Christmas tree -yes, I am serious when I say I love having the Christmas lights and the fresh cut tree, but by February a few too many of those needles lay on the floor. We invited friends over that weekend to push me along in getting the tree down.  I remember literally tossing the tree out the back door as their car pulled in the driveway.  I had a few minutes to sweep and was picking up that last of the needles that had trickled onto the kitchen floor as they came up the stairs to greet me!  Good thing it was dark so they couldn’t see that tree tossed out onto the snowy cold deck. It was Valentines Day so I did not put up my valentine decorations that year!  I did think about it briefly, and reason took over: one day of decorations?  Nah!

Okay, so life took a turn and I decided it is much better to be organized and on schedule than overly indulgent in one holiday theme, because even I was sick of Christmas decor that one fateful February!  In fact, the next year I purged many of my old decorations to a much more manageable set of boxes and choices for future decorating.

Sometimes, it does take an extreme to help us have the tension required to create balance in our lives.  Some of you struggle with too many decorations or too much regular clutter, like paperwork, newspapers/magazines, junk mail, hobby or collectibles, shoes, or the like.  When we have too many of any one thing it becomes a burden.  A physical burden that most often morphs into an emotional burden and clutters our thinking also.

My friend, Karen Ehman, has a few great books on organizing and has shared a few key insights in this blog post http://www.karenehman.com/2013/12/christmas-break-de-cluttering/.  She helps us tackle the “extras” that do not belong in our spaces.

I have found that the key to enjoyment of any holiday decorating is determining just how MUCH you feel like putting out in that particular year.  I have never been one to just put every decoration out simply because I own it!  I put on Christmas music and then I begin the process of taking some items out of the box for inspection and inspiration.  I am also not a person who does everything the same way every year!  This may drive some of my Organizing Guru friends crazy!  But no apologies from me, I reserve the right to creative freedom!  And have learned to keep my sanity along the way.  Not so in the early years, before I established a process though!

One efficient process I developed is to stash everyday decorations in the holiday box temporarily so that my living spaces look as though the holiday decor is a natural part of the room, rather than cluttering on top of what is there all year.

Space Planning: My family and I prefer some “open” space.  This open space helps us to feel relaxed and able to breathe easily.  I learned from past mistakes that using nearly every inch of counter and wall space to include holiday decorations was truly stressful rather than enjoyable!  For those of you who prefer a country decor, you may tolerate more decorations per foot than those of us who prefer a contemporary decor.  Rely on your personal preference and how the space makes you feel rather than what others tell you to do!

Storage: I have a small storage area for all my holiday boxes.  When I take out the Christmas boxes I first come to the Harvest boxes that were put away in November.  These come out first, I take all Christmas boxes out and then put Harvest back in for the time.  Now that I am swapping out Christmas  I will once again pull all boxes out of the room; put the Christmas boxes in first because they will be the last ones needed.  I will place Harvest in next; Easter after and finally the Valentine decos will be staged to grab easily a few weeks from now.

Dust Busters and Vertical Storage: I have very large plastic shopping bags that I use to put all of my wreaths in and I use the handle holes to hang these on the nails I have strategically placed on the storage room wall so that I can use all vertical and horizontal spaces (it is a small space, so this is necessary).  The plastic bags also help keep dust from collecting, as I will place a bag on top to cover the opening.

Itemize Treasures: I inventory each box on the outside and inside with a list of items so they can easily be returned.  I tape a note to the box, because I reserve the right to improve my process or downsize, so I don’t want permanent marker on the boxes.  I draw fun little pictures of some items rather than use all words, saves space and quick to identify. This makes the putting away and pulling out much faster.  I try to put my box of lights out in front so that it is one of the first boxes we can get to for the next year since we cannot decorate the tree until the lights are strung. Plus I sometimes like the candlestick lights for our windows out earlier than the Christmas decorations.

Outdoor Decorations: Last, I keep our outdoor decorations in the garage.  This is helpful because where I live it is usually too cold to take down these decorations on the perfect schedule.  For example it was negative seven degrees today and if I would have tried to pull out my flood light stakes, most likely they would have snapped in half ( I know because I snapped one upon installation and it was in the teens on that day!).  So having this box in the garage is not going to interrupt the process flow for my indoor storage.

One of my favorite new gadgets is a remote control light fob.  No longer do I have to go outside and unplug all of my exterior lights.  One simple push of a button and all lights go out as I go to bed.

Well, I hope you have a few new ideas to make your holiday organizing a little more enjoyable in this new year.  If you are overwhelmed at the moment, take a deep breath and just start in one small area removing every holiday item and as you do ask yourself, “do I love this?”  If the answer is no, consider donating it or giving it to a friend or family member who will appreciate and enjoy it more than you.

May you have an Peace-filled and Organized New Year!

Christmas Card Display: Yarn and mini multi-colored clothespins

Christmas Card Display: Yarn and mini multi-colored clothespins

Christmas Dinning and Sunroom at Night

White lights are my favorite, but I let the kids decide the tree color yearly.

Usually have Willow Tree Nativity on Fireplace, went for a change this year.

Usually have Willow Tree Nativity on Fireplace, went for a change this year.

The Reason for the Season

The Reason for the Season

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