Pack your bags, or boxes or totes

Saying goodbye to the holiday season and packing up the festive decor is a slow process for me. I love the warmth of the fairy lights and almost dread how empty my house feels when the holiday decor is gone. It all seems to go so fast. It seems that the festivities accelerate with each year, more than I would like.  Every January, I make promises to myself that my holiday prep will begin much earlier the following year, so I can make the most of the month of December. The extended warm weather of 2016 fooled me, and I was digging and working in my garden much later than usual.

Ornaments above all from my Pinterest board HERE.

Here are my tips for undressing the house from the holidays:

Set aside a clear surface (table, bench, desk) for gathering the holiday items to be packed.

Remove the once fresh greens, holly and magnolia so the brittle leaves make less of a mess. Carefully remove ornaments, ribbons and lights from those greens. I put all the crispy greens on my deck and move them to my compost pile later, once I’ve gotten them down from behind mirrors and have emptied all the vases.

As I walk from room, to room I gather, and gather, and still find more to collect.

Gather wreaths, christmas pillows, and figurines from mantles, piano, and doorknobs, keeping like things together on that designated surface.  

In this way, all the peripheral decor is collected in one spot, before I’ve taken totes out of the attic, and well before I tackle the tree. I wait to dismantle my tree because my ornaments are so important to me, and I want to wrap them carefully.

Images above all from my Pinterest board HERE.

I like to mark new ornaments with a tiny adhesive tag and very fine sharpie.  I write the year and from whom I received them. Removing my tree is almost the last farewell to the abundant happiness I’ve had with friends and family.

I do keep my nativity up until Epiphany, the day that celebrates the wise men finding baby jesus It is the true end of the Christmas season and their arrival to the manger scene marks the anticipation and fun of Mardi Gras season.

My best tip is this: wrap, wrap, wrap with care. With several cross country moves under my belt, I’ve learned to really pack like I’m moving.

Here are my best packing “paper” ideas: reuse tissue from gifts received, use torn and rumpled gift wrap from boxes, use bubble wrap or air-packs from amazon boxes, and repurpose plastic grocery bags- these make marvelous wrappers for delicate ornaments. Last but not least, use newsprint- to create protective layers between ornaments and for wrapping.

Wreaths? I hang in my attic on nails, and use clear dry cleaning bags to cover them. Faux garlands? I have a huge box into which I gently coil them.

And live greens on my door and gates? I remove the Christmas ribbon and keep them up thru the bleak winter days for as long as they stay green.

While it's bittersweet to see all of my holiday decorations go into storage, I always feel a sense of renewal and am refreshed by the sense of space and lightness my house has as we move into January. And, the greatest benefit, cleaning is simplified.