After the Holidays

Here’s to a wonderful and organized 2011.  If you’re anything like me, you love the holidays.  Which means your Christmas tree and decorations don’t come down until exactly one week after New Year’s Day. 
To make the end of the holiday season more bearable, here are some tips to organize your holiday decorations. 
Archiving Decorations
I learned this tip from my mom, and it’s a major time saver.  Take photos of each room or area after it’s decorated.  Refer to the photos the following year, and you’ll know exactly where all your decorations go.  No reason to reinvent the wheel each year! 
Packing Decorations
Now the fun part…
  • Lights – To keep lights tangle free, pack them on a light cord wrap like this wing-lid light storage box.  Before packing lights, attach masking tape to each strand and write how long it is and where you hang it (on the tree or on the mantle). 
  • Glass Ornaments – Pack these in their original boxes if possible.  If not, wrap with a couple layers of paper towels (takes up less space than bubble wrap) and store them in a box with dividers like this one.
  • Candles – Trim the burned wick and remove excess wax from the candle.  Wrap candles in a paper towel to prevent wax from getting on other decorations.
  • Linens – Take the time to hand wash or use a delicate cycle on the washing machine.  Pack in airtight plastic or cotton bags to prevent dust or moth damage.
  • Artificial Tree – Best to store the tree in its original box or splurge for a plastic or cotton cover like this.
  • Wreaths – You can store them in a plastic bag or this wreath case

Storing Decorations
The first tip is to store all similar decorations together.  There are a couple ways to do this.  First, store all decorations for each room in your home in containers together.  You also want to group similar items, like ornaments and lights, in containers together.  Use clear, plastic containers to quickly identify what’s in each one.  You will also want to clearly label each container before storing it.  Finally, be careful where you store certain items like candles and handmade or paper ornaments.  These items need to be stored in a climate-controlled environment and in airtight containers to make them last for the long haul.      
Recycling the Tree
As if the NYC Department of Sanitation doesn’t have enough work with all the snow, they will also recycle your tree.  All you have to do is leave your tree at curbside between Monday, January 3 and Saturday, January 15.  How easy is that?  Don’t forget to remove the tree stand and decorations and don’t place the tree in a plastic bag.  And the best part is that the trees will be chipped into mulch to be distributed to parks and community gardens throughout the City.
Another option is to participate in NYC Department of Parks and Recreation’s Mulchfest.  Take your tree to one of these locations on Saturday and Sunday, January 8 and 9 from 10am to 2pm.  Biodegradable bags will be provided if you want to take home some free mulch.
Letting Go
After the holidays is the best time of the year to let go of your old decorations and cards.  If you didn’t use certain decorations this year, it’s time to toss them.  That’s hard to do, especially with sentimental items, but there are ways to learn to let go.  For example, take a photo of the item you are attached to before getting rid of it.  Think of the valuable square footage the things you don’t use are taking up.  Ask yourself, is it worth it?
As for holiday cards, save only the cards with memorable notes or a few photo cards from close family members.  Toss the majority of the cards you receive.  Don’t feel guilty, because you’ll get another card from everyone next year. 
Now spend a few more days enjoying your holiday decorations before you tackle the packing, storing, and organizing.  And I won’t judge if you’re still drinking eggnog and eating Christmas cookies…