Christmas may be over for this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start looking ahead to next year. Don’t worry, I hear the groans. But trust me, I have been following these five things the last couple of years and it has paid off. I started developing my strategy during grad school and it helped as I entered the workforce. Each year I seem to fine tune it and add to things that help me out the next year.
Tidy Before Heading Home for the Holidays
If you are like me and many other young professionals, you probably don’t spend the actual holiday at the home where you spend most of your time. Chances are you are headed back to your childhood home, wherever one of your parents live, or to other family and friends.
But what makes coming back home even easier is when your house is tidy and clean. Now, this may not seem like a tip to make your next Christmas even easier but it is something that can make putting away Christmas decorations when you return easier. This means you have a little bit of extra time to put in the extra care of packing up efficiently.
For me, I like to make sure my bathrooms are cleaned and I have vacuumed the whole house and scrubbed the floors (WNY winters does a number on my floors with salt and wetness). I also like to make sure I have fresh bed sheets to jump into when I return and have done all the laundry. These small tasks may seem like they won’t mean much but trust me, there is nothing better than coming home to a clean house.
Every year as we start to pack up the Christmas decorations, we throw away the broken lights and ornaments. It is also important to go through any of your baking supplies that may have gone bad. Look at those cookie cutters, are they rusty? Toss them out and buy new at the after-Christmas sales. How about looking at your fabrics? Is it time to get a new Christmas rug or hand towels? Toss out the old ones and hit the sales now so you are prepared for next year and can start fresh. If you don’t like tossing out a towel, use them as rags for odd jobs around the house or outside.
Shop the Clearance
Every store that sells Christmas decorations and items put their stuff on clearance as of December 26th. That means today is the day to go out and replace what you used up this year or broke. Maybe you have always wanted a holiday wreath for your door but didn’t want to pay $30+ dollars for it. Looking at the prices the day after Christmas, you could get one for $15 or less. But don’t wait because the good stuff goes fast.
I always buy extra wrapping paper, bags, boxes (the ones you don’t have to wrap), bows, gift tags and tissue paper at least 50% off. That way, I know that is one less thing I have to buy next year as I start buying gifts.
Last year, I found this “Santa Sack” that was meant to put gifts in but instead I repurposed it to organize Brian and my Christmas clothes like socks, PJ pants, sweaters, etc. I bought two and used the second for my holiday table clothes, pot holders, and placemats. This has really helped because I can put them in my Christmas decoration bin and know exactly where everything is. Remember, you decide how you utilize things, not the store.
If you are in the market for a new Christmas tree, after Christmas is the best time to buy your dream tree. Maybe you aren’t willing to pay upwards of $200 for the tree but the day after Christmas stores are begging to get rid of them and you can find on up to 75% off. This year I bought two mini trees for just $5!
Bath and Body Works often holds their semi-annual sale at the end of December and January. This is a great time to stock up on the seasonal scents you love at a steep discount. They usually send out coupons before the sale as well so you can save even more. Who knows, you may even start your Christmas shopping in January!
Other stores put their holiday scents on sale as well. Things like Glade products are great to stock up on and keep for next year. Last year, I bought Glade spray that smelled like Christmas trees. It is perfect for the bathrooms around the holidays because it matches my candles and the smell of the tree (or scents sticks in the tree).
Organize Your Decorations
It can be easy to just ball up all your lights and throw them in a box but what good will that bring you next year? You will spend hours and be more stressed out during December than ever before. This year there are so many things out there that can help you. There are light organizing boxes that have separate compartments for different sets of lights; as well as, things to wrap your lights around.
When you are taking down your tree, if you have an artificial tree, leave the lights on it. Better yet, buy a tree with lights already on it. That way you don’t even have to deal with the lights at all. You should also have ornament organizers. I remember growing up, we had cardboard boxes with all the ornaments in them. If they were flat they were laid out in several layers with tissue paper in between. If they were glass, they were in a separate box in their original box to protect them. Now, they have ornament boxes that can make the organization of your ornaments much simpler. Not to mention make sure that they are all cared for and make it safely through the off-season.
For my tree, I have a tree storage bag that I not only keep the tree in but all my lights as well. I also keep my garland that goes on my stair railing and mantle in the bag. That way, next year all of that is together when I bring out the tree as it is usually the first thing that gets put up.
Wrap Up Your Wrapping Paper
After I restock all my wrapping products, I get them all organized. I have a wrapping paper storage bin that houses all my Christmas wrapping paper. I keep this separate from my other wrapping paper and bags. That way, I only need to pull this bin out of the basement once a year.
The holidays don’t have to be stressful. Setting yourself up for a successful holiday season starts at the end of the previous one. You can make your life easier once December rolls around by following these tips and making them your own.