Planning Ahead For The Holidays

planning-ahead-for-the-holidaysMerry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Eid Mubarak or just a Joyful Greeting for whichever holiday you celebrate. But most of all Happy New Year!

Ahhhh the new year – that moment when all starts over fresh again. New beginnings, new chances to make things right, time to refocus on new goals, drop that extra 10 pounds from the holiday, be healthier, a time to de-clutter and reorganize our lives, clean out the cobwebs of 2016 and move onto a brighter and better 2017…..

Okay hogwash. The change of a calendar’s number from 2016 to 2017 doesn’t do anything except screw you up when you try to write checks for the first few weeks of the new year. Does it suddenly give you the gift of motivation to do things differently? Yes? Okay, then let’s run with the guise of renewed determination and try to get something done that will help out your harried self next year. Because at the very least, it’s time to get our holiday decoration put away.

If you are like most people when you get past Thanksgiving the urge to decorate every square inch of your home for the holidays hits. (Except for that one neighbor whose lights have been burning since the day after Halloween.) But after the festivities of Thanksgiving, many people long for the homey feel of whatever holiday traditions they celebrate. And if you are like most, you probably have in the range of 5 – 60 totes in your attic of treasured items to unpack and stack precariously all over your home – and don’t even get me started on the outdoor lights and blow up figures!

So as you lugged out the containers this year you might have been struck with the same sight that greets a majority of the population at this time this year. A mess of randomly thrown, half wrapped and grotesquely stuffed crates full of stuff that you have to sort through to remember where it goes in your home. And some of it you probably don’t know why you have because you never put it out anyway. How did this happen?

Lets step back to January 2016……………

After putting up with the sounds of the new electronic toys your sister, who you now hate, gave your children, visiting in-laws camped out in your guest room, multiple drop-ins from your neighbors bringing cookies you will never eat and days of feasting and drinking, you are done. Just done. When one is motivated to move past the holidays, and erase every indication of them in your home, they can move and pack things away at the speed of the Flash. It’s easy; open all the totes and randomly cram in everything just to get it packed away again. You may have had enough forethought to pack Great Grandma’s Holly ceramic candy dish, wrapped in holiday store advertisements, between the two snowman pillows that Aunt Ruth gave you this year – but chances are you just want to cram that thing away before someone else fills it with Reese’s Peanut Butter cup minis again. But stop. A little time and planning here can make the “holiday decorating mode” you much happier in 11 months. Here are a few tips that I hope can help:

  • Use the right storage – Head over to a large big box store right after the holiday and treat yourself to a stack of new clear plastic totes. Okay I know that the clear ones are not as strong as the old rubber ones but they make things much easier when you go to look for them next year. Still resistant to them? Ok, buy red or green totes to instantly recognize then in the abyss of your attic next year. Don’t celebrate Christmas – they sell blue and grey ones too – the purpose here is to use a not traditional color so that you can spot them instantly when crawling on your knees in a cold attic full of dormant spiders. (ewww)
  • Label your totes – on all four sides – I know it seems excessive but it will help. You don’t have to ask for a labeling system for Christmas for this, but if you do, it’s a great way to try out your new toy. A roll of masking or Duct tape and a sharpie marker will work just as well. Label your totes like this: Upstairs kids bathroom, Dining room table, living room – piano, Living room – sofa table and coffee table. Use a locations in your home, not a specific item. Trust me, you will see why in a minute.
  • Pick up lots of tissue paper during the “after holiday” sales – You can grab it when you are picking up those totes. DO NOT get that kind that has the sparkles in it. That stuff was created by evil scientists and it sheds glitter everywhere! Take the time to wrap up the things that are special to you to avoid the sadness of discovering in a few months that Hubby chipped a beloved item when he put the totes into storage (you know it will be his fault no matter what.) You might even want to consider bubble wrap for very special or fragile items.

Okay we have the supplies, now comes the work:

  • Scatter your totes in the vicinity of the area that you are packing up and section by section work through to fill them snuggly with the items from that area. This means wrapping them and turning them like a game of Tetris until they are braced and spatially take up the smallest possible area for storage. If you have breakables cushion them with holiday towels on the bottom of your tote. Placer larger pieces in first and then fill the space around them as best you can.
  • When you finish packing a tote leave it there! I know hubby or significant other will be immediately at your shoulder assisting you and waiting for your containers to be ready to move to the attic or basement for you (yeah right.) But hold off on moving things for a little bit.
  • Once you have packed all of your totes, move them to your storage space in order from closets to the attic to furthest away. Pack them from the back of the space you utilize forward. Why? Because, when you unpack the totes back into your home next year, the boxes for the rooms furthest away will be first out of the space. This allows you to drop them off and work your way backwards so you aren’t tripping over the ones that are deposited in the rooms you need to walk through carrying a large tote that obstructs your view…. safety first.

Now fast forward to Christmas 2016 and decorating time…

Since you took the time to carefully pack your boxes last holiday, this is a breeze. Everything is labeled with the geographic area that the contents adorn. No guesswork here – distribute the totes and unpack. You can then pack the items that reside in that space the other 11 months of the year that are now displaced back into the same tote. No more trying to figure out what to do with Uncle Harry’s urn. And you will know right where it will be after the holidays. (okay seriously if you are packing away Uncle Harry that might not be the nicest thing to do for Christmas but it’s your home and your Uncle.)

I know some of this seems like common sense but around the holiday and the hustle and bustle of preparations, and then the rush to return to normalcy, sometimes we take short cuts that make our lives harder later on. So pour a glass of eggnog, add a healthy dose of nutmeg (and rum if you are so inclined) and set yourself up for success next year – your harried 2017 self will thank you for it. Happy Holidays!