Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Few Christmas "Undecorating" Tips

It's always difficult to say goodbye to the Christmas tree and decorations each year. It marks the end of a favorite time of year for most of us. And it also means a lot of extra work. Taking the ornaments off the tree, finagling the pine tree through your halls to get it out to the curb, unhanging the stockings ... basically whatever the opposite of decking the halls is.

Since Chris and I started decorating our home back in 2009, we've put a few useful solutions into play to make undecorating the house just a little easier come January 1st (or in our case, sometimes closer to February. Oops!)

Tip #1: Store your ornaments in wine boxes. After a very spendy trip to the Finger Lakes, Chris and I found ourselves with a few extra wine case boxes in the basement. We used to try to keep ornaments in their original boxes if they had one, otherwise they got tossed in a big box, wrapped in stockings and tree skirts and whatever was soft and close at hand. Obviously this was a risky strategy, so the wine box idea was a brilliant substitute.

The dividers are just big enough to fit just about any ornament, and since they're so tall, you can keep piling them in. Just remember to separate ornaments with leftover tissue paper, old wrapping paper, or packing materials from your Christmas presents. We can actually fit all of our ornaments in one wine box, which saves sooo much space in the basement.

Oh, and if you don't regularly go on wine tours, you can probably stop by your local liquor store and ask if they have any extra boxes on hand. Most will be happy to have you take a few boxes of their hands.

Tip #2: Pack your lights into plastic bags. Slap a label on the bag so you know whether they're outdoor lights, tree lights, etc. Then tuck them all into a box (we use a spare filing cabinet in the basement) and you're all ready for next year. Couldn't be easier or cheaper.

Just make sure to pack the stepper switch with the tree lights, and any timers you may have with the corresponding lights so they don't get lost!

Tip # 3: Keep all your decorations in one place. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but up until this year, our Christmas decorations were packed away all throughout the basement. I found out when I was unpacking the Christmas decorations this year that there were two boxes full of Christmas-themed decorations that I forgot to put up last year because I hadn't noticed them tucked under the basement stairs.

After my major basement overhaul this summer, I made sure to dedicate a single stack of metal shelving just to Christmas stuff. Our fake tree that we put out on the front porch obviously stands on the floor next to the stack, but everything else is piled together on the shelves.

When everything is together, there's no forgetting about that box full of garland or hours of searching for the tinsel. Easy peasy. And when it comes time to put it all away, you just carry everything back to one spot.

Tip #4: Hang the pretty things up. This one may be a little too eccentric for some, but when I have something pretty, I like to use it to decorate our otherwise drab basement. So when I walk downstairs, instead of seeing a stack of boxes that hold the Christmas decorations, I see my pretty red wreath hanging from the top shelf. That way, it's like a label for the area of the basement where I store Christmas decorations, and it just adds a pop of color and interest when I'm heading down to do laundry.

I also have a 4th of July banner my mom made me hanging up in the laundry room, and our good buddy "Wisecrackin' Jack" (a gregarious skeleton we hang up at Halloween) lounging around the Halloween decorations. It just makes me smile to see a little holiday cheer on a random Thursday in January. It's not like we often give tours of our basement, so I'm not too worried about someone pointing out that a skeleton and a wreath shouldn't be out at the same time.

So there's our undecorating game plan: Use what you got and don't forget to have a little fun with it.