Post-Christmas Pick-Up

Christmas has come and gone, and we've reached my least favorite part of the season: the post-Christmas pick-up.

You know the feeling. Decorating was fun because it made the house so festive and cozy. The tree looked so good with all of those lovely packages beneath them. There was an air of anticipation and excitement.

That's all over now. It's time to clean up and figure out where stuff goes.

Suggestions for the Post-Christmas Pick-Up

While I won't pretend it's going to be fun, there are a number of ways you can make the post-Christmas pick-up a little less unbearable. The key is to do a little at a time so you don't get too overwhelmed to do it at all. Here's how I recommend you get started.

1. Deal with used wrapping first

At our house we try to deal with the wrapping paper, bows, and packaging right away. Usually someone is sitting with a trash bag while we unwrap. It doesn't sound very festive, but this is an area where you can actually make a bit of a game out of it. See who can crumple their wrapping paper the smallest. Keep score like basketball for making it into the bag with your wrapping paper ball. Try to get as much squished into the bag as you can. What's important here is that you're dealing with the trash as you go so it won't look like the wrapping paper aisle exploded on your floor when the present-opening frenzy is complete. Everyone wants to play with their new toys once they are open, so you'll have more time for fun if you don't wait on this one.

There is a caveat to this one, though. Make sure you don't get so caught up in throwing away the trash that you also throw out things you need! Tags, gift receipts and gift cards are pretty easy to misplace. Leave the tags on any clothing or items that may need to be returned until you're sure they fit. Keep some kind of tin or container to place gift cards in separate from the packing trash. This way you'll know that you haven't accidentally thrown out something you really want or need.

2. Have an idea ahead of time where new things can go

Of course you won't necessarily know what YOU are getting, but when you've bought for your kids or significant others, you have a general idea of how much stuff is going to need stored. Have a plan for how you're going to tackle that ahead of time. It may take awhile before you can get everyone's new loot in its final home, and that's okay! They are likely to want it kept out to play with while it's new anyway. If you can keep a plastic tub or a box close by, you can store new things here for a time. Then you can at least pack everything up together instead of having it strewn all through the house.

If you get new clothes, your best bet is to put them straight into closets, drawers, or the laundry. These aren't things that are going to be used right away, and hopefully that aren't so many that it takes you all afternoon to put them up.

This might also be a good time to do a little purging. Whether it's toys, clothes or electronics, you could use the one-in-one-out rule (or whatever criteria suits you best) for replacing old things with the new. You'll make room for the new things coming in rather than just increasing clutter and filling up valuable storage space.

3. Gather up decorations first, then put them in storage

If you store your Christmas decorations together by room, this one might not be as necessary. You can just haul in your storage containers to the rooms where the stuff is. If you're like me, though, and you store your decorations by type, you might find it easier to do the post-Christmas pick-up by gathering everything in one spot and then packing it away. Take all of the ornaments off the tree and lay them out where you can see them. Not only will this be faster than trying to pack them up one at a time, but you'll get a better view of whether or not you've gotten everything off if you can see them all laid out together. It's also easier to take your tree down and pack it up in assembly line fashion rather than switching between tasks repeatedly. Clear off the tree, roll up the lights and garlands, wrap the ornaments, and get it all packed away for next year.

Doing it this way also means you can get the tree out of the way and make room for gathering up the other decorations. Plus you'll have space to bring in your storage bins now!

An organized post-Christmas pick-up now will save you time later

I know that by the time you've gotten through Christmas, the last thing you want to do is think about picking up and preparing for next year. But if you follow these suggestions to organize NOW, you're going to save your self some headaches later. You won't have to worry about picking up trash and mess after the kids go to bed. You'll keep from tripping over all the presents because they are gathered together instead of spread throughout the house. And when it's time to get the decorations back out, you can do so knowing that it's stored in a way that's convenient and makes decorating for Christmas easy and fun.

Do you have any post-Christmas pick-up tips to take the headaches out of cleaning up? Share them in the comments!

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