After the holidays…declutter your decorations!


Liz Jenkins


Now that the holidays are behind us, let’s talk about your holiday decor! While I’m personally not a big fan of decorating for the holidays, a lot of my clients are and I’ve done my share of organizing ornaments, spray foamed trees, wreaths, wrapping paper & bows, angels, garland, and lights. Don’t even get me started on lights!

This year, when you hauled out all of your holiday decorations, be it Christmas trees and ornaments or Menorah’s and dreidels, I’d like you to think about a couple of things:

  • How much of what you own did you actually use this year?
  • How much of what you own do you really love?
  • How much of what you own has meaning to you, be it fond memories or a gift from a loved one?
  • How easy was it for you to find the decor you wanted, and then how easy was it to put it away?

If even reading these questions makes you stressed, let’s talk about downsizing your holiday collection so that when the time rolls around next year…you can truly enjoy decorating for the holidays instead of dreading it.

Use these tips to make your holiday decorating a breeze next year.

Plan on blocking out several hours to up to a day, depending on how much you’ve collected over the years. This may be a good project to do with a friend in a similar situation: “I’ll help go through your holiday stuff if you help me with mine!”

First, the sort:

  1. Gather up all of your holiday decorations in one place, even the things you never unpacked or used.
  2. Group together like with like: all of the ornaments, statuary, garland, wreaths, lights, trees, etc.
  3. Sub-sort items into like groups. For example, group together ornaments by color, lights by style and color, etc.

Next, stop and think to yourself about what your lifestyle is right now. Are you doing more or less decorating that you used to? Have your tastes and style changed? How much do memories mean to you vs. how the overall effect appears? Keep your answers in mind when we move on the purge. Have some large contractor trash bags at hand, and some boxes for donation at the ready.

  1. Starting with large items first, go through the holiday items and discard anything that immediately jumps out at you as too worn, broken or not suited to your decor. *Note: I do recommend leaving the lights for last as they require testing. This is a good job to give to a responsible kid. “Here, sit down and plug in all of these lights and see which ones work.” Consider it a bonus challenge if they can untangle them.
  2. Again, starting with the large items, go through the holiday items and pull out anything that you haven’t used in the last few years. Take a look at each one and ask yourself why not? Is it because it just isn’t your taste? Is it that it was given to you and you don’t want to offend anyone? Is it because you paid a lot of money for it but really don’t love it? Or perhaps you think maybe one day you’ll use it but never seem to? If you aren’t using it, don’t waste your valuable storage space for things that are just taking up space. Place these items in your designated donate area. Pick a worthy charity and get them out of the house promptly so you aren’t tempted to let them infiltrate the decor you are keeping!
  3. For garland, wreaths, lights, resin reindeer and the like, realistically think about how many you can use. While, yes, they may come in handy one day, you only have so many doors, eaves and shrubs to go around. Keep the ones that are in good shape and still suit your current style and taste. But pare them down to a manageable number for both storage and display.
  4. When you get to ornaments and small decor, use the ‘love it’ or ‘use it’ test. Each ornament came into your life for a reason. It may be from your childhood, was made by your children, was bought at an important time of your life and has special meaning for you, OR it was bought because it was the right color for background and you use them for filler, OR they ended up in your home for whatever reason but you love them. These all make sense. The others are probably random ones picked up on sale or came from an ornament exchange or were given to you by relatives or some other non-purposeful method. If you don’t love it or use it, let it go.

Once you’ve gone through everything and decided what to keep, now on to storing them. There’s quite a lot of designated holiday storage out there and this is a great time of year to stock up. Trees, wreaths, wrapping paper and ornaments can be stored in items specifically made for them.

Use large plastic tubs with bubble wrap for other items. Try to use bins all of the same color (preferably your holiday color) or clear, and be sure to label each bin as to the contents. I like to write or type up an inventory list or a general category, place it in a ziploc bag and packing tape it to the side of the box.

Consider starting fresh with holiday lights, or taking the time to wrap the ones you have on specific light storage holders. Resist the urge to just stuff them in a bag because you know you will regret it next winter!
If you have more than one Christmas tree, you can consider grouping everything you put on one tree in one box so it’s all corralled when you pull it out next year.

Seriously take a look at your storage space and ask yourself if the items you are storing are pulling their weight. Even if it is clutter that only shows up once a year, it can still weigh on you. Believe me, ridding yourself of extra holiday clutter now will make for a great new year!