Although trimming the tree and stringing lights are considered chores by some, many people agree that these tasks are an enjoyable part of the holiday season. Lights and decorations make homes sparkle and can even help put people in a jolly holiday mood. Putting them away, however, is an almost universally detested process.
Postholiday cleanup tends to be not only a time-consuming endeavor but also a reminder that the most joyous time of year has come and gone. In short, it’s a bummer. But that doesn’t mean it has to send you into a tizzy. There are plenty of clever solutions to make the process of cleaning and organizing much easier and more organized.
So if you’re tired of the hassle that tends to follow the holiday hustle and bustle, keep this guide handy for when it comes time to pack up the season.
Don’t have a breakdown. Break it down.
Depending on the size of your home and the number of decorations you have, dismantling your decor can be daunting. One of the best ways to make the process easier is to divide and conquer, especially if you have multiple rooms or both indoor and outdoor decor to pack away.
Consider separating indoor and outdoor tasks into multiple days or over two different weekends. Set aside specific days for each task, such as taking down all outdoor decor, putting away the tree and ornaments, and packing away indoor lights and other small decorative items. There’s a lot to do, but packing up can be much more manageable if you split it up.
Here’s an example of a schedule you could follow:
Sunday: Put away outdoor lights and decor
Monday: If you have a tree, take it down and store away its ornaments
Tuesday: Pack up indoor decor
Wednesday: Vacuum and deep-clean carpets and other soft surfaces
Thursday: Wash linens and clean guest areas
Friday: Clean kitchen floors, countertops, and appliances
However you decide to split up the process, you’ll want to be strategic about it. For example, you should avoid vacuuming before taking your tree down, as you’ll likely have to vacuum again to clean up stray pine needles. You should also plan to deep-clean surfaces from top to bottom, particularly in the kitchen, but wait to sweep and mop until after cleaning your countertops and appliances in case loose debris ends up on the floor.
Pack smarter, not harder.
Resist the temptation to throw your decor haphazardly into boxes and bins. Instead, you should have a system. Using clear storage bins can be helpful, as you’ll be able to see the contents of the bin more easily. However, you could also opt for color-coded bins (e.g., red for lights, blue for fragile decor, and green for artificial trees and ornaments). Be mindful of the placement of items in boxes and bins too. Keep heavy items toward the bottom and fragile items on top, like how you’d pack a grocery bag.
You can make packing up even easier by investing in organizational tools made specifically for storing holiday decor. Websites like Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond sell storage solutions for nearly every type of decor, including zip-up tree bags with wheels, water-resistant garland bags, cylindrical wrapping-paper bags, and compartmentalized boxes for fragile ornaments. These specialized bags make storage easier while keeping your items safe from water and mold damage, especially if you are storing them in a dark space that’s prone to moisture like a basement or attic.
Clean common areas.
Once your decorations are put away, it’s time to clean. Much like you gave your kitchen and bathrooms a deep clean before friends and family arrived, you’ll want to give these areas another thorough cleaning after they leave. Extra people walking around, sitting on furniture, and eating and drinking means extra dirt buildup—some of which you may not be able to see.
Begin with the most frequently used rooms, such as bathrooms, guest bedrooms, the kitchen, and living areas. Start at the top, and use a duster with an extension rod to wipe the tops of fan blades and ceiling corners. Work your way to countertops, tables, and other hard surfaces. Use a microfiber cloth and multipurpose spray to wipe away dust and grime. Finally, give your floors some TLC by vacuuming or sweeping, and be sure to mop hard floors with a disinfecting solution.
Don’t forget about these commonly missed areas:
- Cooktop and oven, including under gas burner plates and oven racks
- Inside the microwave
- Coffeepot and teakettle
- Refrigerator drawers and shelves
- Light-switch faceplates
- Couch and chair cushions
- Stair railings and steps
- Doorknobs and windowsills
Rest and recover.
When all your decor is packed away and your home is clean, you deserve to prioritize self-care and get some much-needed rest. Set aside time for activities you enjoy that promote relaxation, such as watching TV, doing yoga, journaling, or practicing meditation. If you spent days and nights preparing delicious meals for your holiday guests, consider restocking your fridge and pantry with nutritious foods you can use for meal-prepping. Or consider signing up for a few weeks’ worth of healthy meal deliveries so you can take a break from cooking altogether.
No matter how you choose to recover after cleaning up from the holidays, it’s essential to remember to slow down, take care of yourself, and, most important of all, cherish the memories you made this season.