the day after christmas. still singing, still grateful

day after christmas, still singing, still grateful
notes from maggie's farm

Today, I'm grateful that it's time for cleanup.  

This little house hasn't the room for the remnants of celebrating for too long, and we've got to get it all back in an organized fashion to make it easier to pull it out next year.  Or that's the idea, anyway.  Every year I promise myself that, every year I find new hints to facilitate that, and every year I get closer to the goal!.  

While I write this, I hear the hum of a vacuum cleaner in the distance, the song of someone helping in the cleanup effort without even being asked to do so.  Is it STILL Christmas? Nah, we share the load every day around here.  Goes to prove, as Mr West sings it, above, 'even when Christmas is over, the light of the world is still here'.  

Great ideas from Real Simple:

Storing Holiday Decorations

Bob Hiemstra

Year-to-Year Strategies

Problem: You end up tossing loads of wrapping paper and other packaging

Solution: Instead of throwing away used gift wrap and tissue paper, run it through
a paper shredder and use the fluffy strips as packing filler when you're putting away
your decorations, suggests Sandy Stuckey, a former director of special events and entertainment at Gaylord Opryland, in Nashville.

Problem: You've finally perfected your decorating scheme, and you don't want
to forget it.

Solution: Label each string of lights, segment of garland, or ball of mistletoe with a marker and masking tape as you take it down so you'll always know which item
to hang in the entryway and which is just the right size for the mantel.

Mark Lund

Packing It Up Like a Pro

Problem: Delicate ornaments emerge from their boxes
chipped, dusty, or broken. 
Solution: "If possible, try to keep the packaging that your fine ornaments arrive
in," says Victor Luis, CEO of the crystal producer Baccarat, headquartered in Paris.
"If you don't have an ornament's original packaging, wrap the piece in a resealable sandwich bag, then store it in a sturdy, well-padded box." Donna Smallin, author of
The One-Minute Organizer Plain & Simple(Storey, $10,,
suggests using partitioned cardboard liquor or wine boxes for storing standard
ornaments and small decorations. "Egg cartons," she says, "make excellent
packaging for tiny ones." Stuff all the nooks and crannies with tissue paper saved
from opened gifts. Also, Smallin adds, "keep your fragile items together at the top
of a box. The more you have to dig for an ornament, the greater your chances of damaging it." 

Problem: Dough ornaments and macaroni crafts fall apart or attract pests. 
Solution: Pack food-based decorations in resealable sandwich bags to protect them
from humidity, then place the bags in a cookie tin to keep rodents out, says
Jackie Harvey, proprietor of Adoughables, a dough-ornament company in
Westampton, New Jersey.

Mark Lund

Preservation Tips

Problem: The light strings are always tangled, and you don’t
know what kind of replacements you need for the dead and faded bulbs. 
Solution: Whenever you buy a new string of lights, immediately label the plug
with the type and number of bulbs in the strand and where you purchased it.
That way, any damaged bulbs will be easy to replace, says Steve Pearson, 
a three-time winner of the Merriam, Kansas, Festival of Lights Contest. As for 
the knots and snarls, Taylor offers this tip: Take an empty coffee can, cut a slit 
in the plastic lid, and put the receptacle end of the light cord through it. Wrap 
the string around the can, and store extra bulbs and extension cords inside. 
(When it’s time to unpack the lights again, plug each strand into an electrical 
outlet to make sure it works before you unroll it.) Always store 
colored lights in a dark place to keep the bulbs from fading (blues, greens, 
and purples fade faster than reds and yellows do). 

Problem: “Santa’s” suit is starting to look dusty and worn. 
Solution: “If your costumes are homemade or valuable to you, treat them as
you would a wedding dress,” says Taylor. “Dry-clean them, press them, and keep
them folded neatly in a sealed, acid-free container so that no moisture or moths
can get in.”

Mark Lund

Smart Storage Solutions

Problem: You need some of your supplies sooner than others. 
Solution: At the end of each season, pack an "Open First" box. "Then store last
the things that you'll need to take out first," says Smallin. "They'll be the easiest to 
reach when it is time to find them again." And if you decide to keep next year's decorations to a minimum, you won't have to open up every last carton to find the essentials.

Problem: You can never find anything.
Solution: "Label each box with the holiday and a few bullet points about its contents," Smallin suggests. "Then organize the boxes by season." For an even easier 
identification system, use boxes with color-coded lids (orange for Halloween, 
for example, and yellow for Easter). For the ultimate in organization, Smallin 
suggests keeping a more detailed content list for each box on your computer. 
"When the Fourth of July comes around and you need that American flag," 
she says, "just do a document search for 'flag' before digging through all the boxes."

Mark Lund

What to Buy, What to Toss

Problem: Every year, you forget what you've got on hand.
Solution: Start a decorating notebook with an inventory sheet for each holiday
so you can keep track of how many strands of lights and how many feet of 
garland you have, says Kelley Taylor, author of Holiday Decorating for 
Dummies (For Dummies, $20, "Consult it to make sure you don't 
overbuy when it comes time to decorate again," she adds. Remember: Any 
surplus items will just complicate your storage woes.

Problem: You don't have the space to store all your trimmings.
Solution: "Evaluate your decorations annually, and keep only what you are really 
going to use," says Valerie Parr Hill, author of Decorating for the Holidays 
(QVC Publishing, $27.50, If an item is damaged or has lost its 
color, get rid of it. "Give yourself permission to let some of that stuff go," Hill 
says. And consider using natural accents―nuts, pinecones, and fresh greenery 
or flowers―that you can toss after the New Year.

Dana Gallagher

Keeping Shape

Problem: Your stored candles lose their shape. 
Solution: "Candles should be put away flat, out of light, and in a fairly cool area to prevent warping and preserve color," says Susan Stockman, a spokesperson for the Yankee Candle Company, in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. An alternative 
solution, says Taylor, is to use neutral-colored candles that you can leave out all 

Problem: The holiday linens end up as wrinkled as a turkey's wattle. 
Solution: Ironing a big linen tablecloth is probably the last thing you want to do 
after you've spent the entire morning cooking. "Use skirt hangers for all your 
tablecloths, place mats, and napkins so they don't become creased at the bottom 
of a box," says Hill.

Ditte Isager

Double-Duty Storage

Problem: Plastic lawn ornaments and other large, oddly-shaped decorations
take up too much space when boxed. 
Solution: Save the zippered garment bags you get when you buy a new suit 
or dress, and use them to protect bulky plastic figures, such as sleighs and 
reindeer, suggests Hill. Then hang the bags in a closet or on a nail in your attic.

Problem: You need to store your decorations in the basement, which is always 
Solution: Use plastic storage containers with tight seals, and place them up off 
the floor on shelves or palettes, in case of flooding. To help keep boxes free 
of moisture, Hill recommends dropping in a few silica packets (often found in
new shoe boxes, or available for purchase at the Preservation Station,
Wishing you speedy clean up, and good help.


  1. Thanks for all the great solutions-I'm certainly going to use some of them today. Great Post (as always)

  2. I love 'hints and tips' for organizing...especially due to the fact that I need them so bad!


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