A Post-Christmas Plan to Get Organized

By Ellen Anderson
Another holiday season is wrapping up, and this is the time our thoughts turn to the New Year. While probably the most popular New Year’s resolution is to exercise more and lose weight, another popular resolution is to get organized. As someone who is in the business of helping people get organized, that of course is my favorite New Year’s resolution, and I encourage everyone to get on board.

It’s very easy to decide to have the resolution of getting organized, but what does that really mean, and how on earth does one go about it? Weight loss experts say you shouldn’t have your stated goal to be to “lose weight.” It’s not specific enough, thus making it easy to not get engaged in the specifics of the process. The same applies to “getting organized.” One needs to zero in and make some specific goals and plans. One area of focus that fits well at this time of the year is purging and organizing your holiday decorations.

Following is my handy “Get Your Holiday Decorations under Control Guide.”

1. Designate some time slots when you are going to take down your holiday decorations: give yourself at least two 2 to 3 hour time slots. Depending on how many decorations you have, you may end up needing more time or you might get done sooner. But start by putting two 2 to 3 hour time slots on your calendar. If you typically have other family members help you take things down, let them know your plans.

2. Be well rested and fed, and put yourself on “Do Not Disturb” with regard to your devices. This is important because once you start, you will get done so much faster if you are not starting and stopping to take care of texts, phone calls, and other interruptions.

3. Establish a staging area where you place all your decor that you put out this year AND any decor you didn’t put out and is still in storage. Save taking down the Christmas tree for a later step. Don’t forget to include holiday table linens, candles, and dishes.

4. Once you’ve got everything out in front of you, now comes the hard part, but the most important part of this process: pick up each object and assess if you still want to keep it in your holiday collection. Do you still love the piece? Did you ever love the piece?Was it a gift or a hand-me-down that just doesn’t spark a thrill or joy when you hold it and look at it? Is it getting worn out?Do you put out things that were hand-made by a loved one and you feel obligated to put them on display every year? Do you love the object, but it’s a part of a village theme or collection that you’re burned out on putting together every year? I hope you see my point with all these sometimes uncomfortable questions.

There is NOTHING WRONG with parting with decorations that for whatever reason just don’t do it for you anymore. Remember, surround yourself with things you love and that bring you joy. If those two things aren’t met, get rid of it. Even the gifts, even the family heirlooms, even the stuff your twenty-six-year-old son made when he was in preschool, even the stuff that is “worth money” or deemed valuable.

5. Set aside the items you are getting rid of for further sorting later. Now you are ready to assess the storage containers you already have and determine if you need to replace old boxes, etc. Wrap everything up and pack in boxes or bins and label them. A masking tape label done with a Sharpie is just fine.

6. Now repeat the above steps with your Christmas tree (if artificial), ornaments, garlands, and lights.

7. Now repeat the above steps with your outdoor decorations and lights. Get rid of the stuff you never put up anymore or that just doesn’t look that great to you anymore.

8. Time to address your pile of stuff you are parting with. Round up some boxes and trash bags. If you want to make this as simple and painless as possible, I recommend sorting the items into only two categories: 1, Stuff to be donated to a thrift store like Goodwill, and 2, Trash. Other possibilities are designating a box of things you would like to try to sell or for a future garage sale, or in the case of family heirlooms, put those items in a box to see if other relatives would like any of the items.

The cool thing about this guide is that you can apply this same process for other household items, such as your clothing, kids’ toys, books, etc. Trust me, you will love the results of your efforts. Next year when you get out your holiday decorations, you will put out the stuff you truly love, and/or perhaps enjoy shopping for some new holiday decorations.

Happy New Year!

Ellen Anderson helps people declutter and get organized through her business Moving Forward Organizing, serving the Chippewa Valley and Wausau areas. Visit MFOrganizing.com