Post Holiday Organization: Clean Out the Old to Make Way for the New

After all the presents have been unwrapped and Christmas brunch has been served, the reality of post-holiday chaos usually starts to settle in. There’s so much stuff! Gifts, decorations, wrapping paper, lights, garlands and wreaths all have to be packed up and put away. But where to start? Rather than shoving everything in a big plastic bin to be dealt with next year, try some new techniques to make life easier now and later.

We spoke to professional organizer and stager Jennifer Phelps to learn about the best ways to sort through everything after the holidays. Keep reading to learn how to deal with your post-holiday chaos.

Q: What are your tips for putting away holiday decorations (especially ornaments and lights) once Christmas is over? Do you tend do it right away? How do you keep everything organized?

A: How long one waits to put away their holiday decor is a personal decision, or maybe based on family tradition. Some do it right away and some wait until the tree has become a fire hazard. Either way, there are lots of clever ways to store ornaments and lights. storingornaments

When you re-pack your decorations, always clear out bins of stuff you didn’t use. Do this every year to make it easier on you next year. Why waste space storing stuff you don’t use?

Here’s some other decoration storage tips:

  • Keep original boxes (my mom has boxes older than me).
  • Use egg cartons to store glass ornaments.
  • Don’t throw out gift wrap: re-use holiday gift wrap and crumpled tissue to store ornaments


  • Use Zip-Loc bags filled with air to cushion fragile ornaments and decorations: wrap the ornaments in tissue paper and put in Zip-Loc bags, then use a straw to blow air into them.
  • Wrap strings of lights or garland around empty gift wrap tubes to keep them from tangling.
  • Cut pieces of scrap gift wrap or gift bags and glue to colored paper to make thank you cards. This is a great kid project.

W14sp71Q: Since many of us get new things for Christmas, we often have to get rid of our old stuff to make room for the new. What are your tips for clearing out the clutter to make room for new things in our lives? 

A: Looking in the bottom of our ornament bin can be sort of analogous to our lives. We’ve decorated our lives with the stuff we love, with what speaks to us now and what makes us happy now — whether it’s old or new. Left in the bottom and stuffed in the corners are bits from the past that no longer really do it for us, maybe it’s a tradition but one that no longer fits us. But every year we ignore it, leave there, and every year the bin gets more stuffed and becomes more of a hassle to pack, unpack and store.
Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 5.33.08 PMSo this year, clear out the old bits, toss what you don’t use any more, the broken and faded, the stuff you never really liked anyway. Make room! Of course, you just might rediscover something precious too. But if it’s not something you intend to use, take it out of the big box and move it to a box with mementos, so your past doesn’t over-crowd your present.

You might also like:  New Year’s Resolution: Get Organized with Baskets

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