Make a Card Display
It’s wonderful to receive cards from friends and loved ones during the holidays, but left to range freely, your Christmas correspondence can soon take over your home. Before the cards hit your mailbox, figure out a way to corral and display them. Try hanging them on ribbons from the fireplace mantel or stair banister, or attaching them to a wreath of clothespins. That way, they'll not only stay tidy but also serve as colorful holiday decorations.
Set Up a Gift Wrap Center
Wrapping holiday gifts for everyone on your list can be overwhelming, especially when you have rolls of wrapping paper, tape, and ribbons strewn everywhere. Create a seasonal wrapping station so that all your supplies will be together in one place. With a home base for all your gift wrap, you won't need to finish all your wrapping at once. You'll be able to stretch out the process and enjoy it more.
Keep Essentials Under the Tree
Decorating for the holidays requires a lot of bits and pieces—extra bulbs for the tree, fuses for the lights, batteries, zip ties, and ornament hooks. Stash these small necessities in a good cardboard box, cover the bottom and lid with wrapping paper, pop on a bow, and hide it in plain sight under the tree. Now your essentials will be out of the way but easy to find when you need them.
Use Fresh Greenery
Reduce your decoration clutter by minimizing the number of things you'll need to pack up after the holiday. One easy way to do this is to opt for fresh greenery instead of artificial. Your house will smell amazing, and you can throw it away—or use it for compost, mulch, or some more creative pursuit—without guilt after the New Year.
Get Rid of Old Toys and Clothes
A lot of new clothes, toys, kitchenware, and linens come into the home at the holidays. Make room for the onslaught by going through closets and toy chests before the new presents get unwrapped. Set aside a bag or bin of unwanted or outgrown items and drop it off at a donation center before the holidays. You can wait until after the New Year if you’re worried your kids might miss something you've taken away, but chances are good that they won’t.
Nobody says you have to use every decoration you own every year. Put out half of what you pulled out of storage, and when you put things away, consider how badly you missed what wasn’t on display. If you didn’t even remember you owned some of the unused decorations, then donate them to a church or thrift store so someone else can enjoy them. Place your most treasured decorations at the top of the storage box so they're sure to be in the half you put up next year.
Related: How To—Store Holiday Decorations
Have Recycling and Trash Bins Ready
Once the unwrapping begins, it’s total chaos, with ribbon and paper everywhere. Before you open a single present, place three boxes off to the side—one for trash, one for recycling, and one for paper, bows, and ribbons you can reuse. With these organizers at the ready, you’ll be able to clean up the craziness as soon as the gift exchange ends.
So many of the objects we associate with the holidays are filled with great memories. Old holiday decor, greeting cards, and family photographs are nostalgia-laden reminders of happy times. But you don't have to hold on to stuff to hold on to the memories. Consider digitizing cards and photos, and documenting old holiday decor so you can let it go and make room for new objects that will create new memories.
Send the Food Home
Christmas clutter is not just about the presents—your refrigerator will be groaning too. Ask guests to bring a good-size plastic container to the celebration and have them load it up with leftovers before they leave. Everyone will appreciate having a little culinary Christmas memory the following week, and you won’t have to figure out five more ways to use up ham or turkey.
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