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Austin American-Statesman: Be Organized as You Pack Up Holiday Decorations

December 30, 2007

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Life Guide column by Sarah Lindner

It’s no coincidence there’s a Christmas carol about decking the halls but no songs celebrating the joys of undecking them. Post-holiday cleanup can be downright depressing. The fun’s over; now get up on the roof and take down those lights. No wonder we sometimes put off the job for such shamefully long times.

Organizer Lorie Marrero, who helped us take on the behemoth of our paper clutter a couple of months ago, is back with some ideas and inspiration to help us make sure our holiday decorations don’t linger until Valentine’s Day. Marrero’s company is LivingOrder. She also has a blog at clutterdiet.com/blog.

Prep work

  • You don’t have to start putting everything away right now, but give yourself a deadline for taking down decorations, Marrero says. If you don’t, it’s all too easy to let the job fall off your radar as everyone goes back to work or school.
  • “Ask your family what is important to them about the holidays,” she says. Maybe it’s something as little as having cocoa in your special mugs and not the elaborate lighting display you’ve felt obligated to do. Their answers can help you pare things down before you pack.
  • Look for sales on containers. You might be able to find discounts on those red-and-green bins for your holiday stuff, Marrero says. The color theme isn’t just festive. It can help you find your decorations more easily when you’re looking for them in the garage or attic next year.
  • Here’s something that will speed up your decorating next holiday season. “It’s a good idea to take photos of decorations in the rooms as you pack them,” Marrero says. “It helps you remember what you did last year.” You can even put the photos in the same bin with the items to help you re-create groupings next year.

Packing up

  • Gather all decorations from around the house and bring them to one central location to pack up. This makes the job feel more manageable and “the rest of the house gets back to normal really quickly,” Marrero says.
  • “Don’t pack or store anything that’s broken or that you haven’t used for two seasons,” she says. “Keep only what you use and love.”
  • For lights, Marrero recommends storage reels such as those made by the Christmas Light Co. (available at Amazon.com).
  • Don’t try to store an artificial tree in the package it came in. “Most of the time packaging is designed for shipping and selling that product, and not really for storing it,” Marrero says. “Christmas trees hardly ever fit back in their box.” She recommends a zippered bag with handles that’s specifically designed for storing an artificial tree. It’s available at the Container Store and Organize.com.
  • Marrero’s favorite way of storing gift wrap is under-the-bed containers made for the job. Try the Wrap ‘n’ Craft Gift Wrap Organizer available at the Container Store.
  • For everything you store, good labeling is important. Instead of writing directly on containers (and crossing out, then writing again …), Marrero recommends using label pouches that hold an index card you can change as needed. The pouches are designed to stay in place in extreme hot or cold, so they can stand up to attic or garage storage. They’re available at Labelitnow.com.

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