So we’re in the thick of the holiday season right now. You’re busy and harried, so it’s too early to think about next Christmas, right? Wrong. Some common advice to prepare for next year is to hit the after-Christmas sales to get gifts for next year, to buy craft kits for next Christmas, or to stock up on decorations and other supplies for future holidays. That’s all helpful stuff and is great if you can do it, but it requires you to spend money. Problem is, you might not have any money left over after you buy gifts and food for this Christmas.
However, you can get a jump on next Christmas without spending any money. One surefire way to save time and money next Christmas is to make sure you end this Christmas organized and ready for next year. How many times have you gotten your decorations out of storage and struggled to find everything, had to replace broken items, had to clean up some mess or stain left from the previous year, or had to dig through piles of stuff you never use to find the stuff you do use? This is all a function of failing to plan for next year.
When the holiday is over, many people rush to put their stuff away rather than taking the time to get organized and ready for next year. They cram it in boxes and stuff it in the closet. But spending just a little extra time this year can pay off big and save money and time next year. Here are some steps to take this year to make sure you’re ready for next year.
Clean Your Items
If your ornaments have sap on them, clean it off. Wash or dry clean your table linens, tree skirts, and stockings to remove any stains and odors prior to putting them away. Any stains or odors that are on your items when you put them away will be nearly impossible to remove next year. You’ll either spend a lot of time cleaning next year, or you’ll be out looking for replacements.
Repair or Toss Anything Broken
If it’s broken now, it’ll still be broken next year. Things don’t magically fix themselves over the summer. If you can and want to fix it, do so now. Get that light string working again, or superglue that ornament together. If you can’t fix it, go ahead and toss it. (If you want to replace it, hit the after Christmas sales now rather than paying full price next year.) It’ll be one less thing to do or wade through next year.
Put labels on each box or bag so you know what’s in each one. When we take down our icicles, for example, we put each string in a bag and label the bag with the part of the house it goes on (laundry room, bedroom, etc.). This makes putting them up the next year a matter of simply matching bags to areas of the house, rather than struggling to figure out how it all went together last year. Before we got a pre-lit tree, we did the same things with the light strings. We put each in a bag labeled by section of the tree (bottom, top, etc.). It was much easier to get the lights on right that way. We label our ornament boxes according to which tree they go with (we put up two trees). Labels make it easy to find things and make “staging” the decorating process much easier.
Pack Things Carefully
Wrap ornaments carefully in protective paper or bubble wrap. Put things back in their original boxes if you kept them. Pack lighter/breakable stuff on top of the boxes rather than at the bottom. Wind your lights so they don’t tangle up. Make sure nothing is tearing at the fabric of your linens. The more careful you are about packing, the less breakage you will have and the easier it will be to put things up next year.
Arrange Your Storage Area
This means not putting the small boxes underneath the big heavy boxes in the attic. Don’t shove too many items into too small of a closet or you’ll crush things. Before shoving anything into a space, check to make sure you’re not going to crush something else that’s hiding behind it. Don’t set a heavy box of ornaments on top of a wreath unless you want to hang a pancake next year. Take care when putting stuff away rather than just tossing it willy-nilly into closets, attics, or under the bed.
Go ahead and get rid of things you no longer use. If you haven’t hung certain ornaments or used certain decorations in years, get rid of them. They’re just more stuff to dig through each year. People’s tastes change and their collections grow. What was once used all the time falls out of favor. If this is the case in your house, donate the things you no longer use, or give them to a relative or friend just starting their own Christmas collection.
Prevent Critter/Weather Destruction
Think carefully about where you’ll be storing your items and take the appropriate precautions. Use cedar chips or mothballs for fabric items to prevent insect infestations. Use plastic storage containers (not cardboard boxes) if there’s a chance the items might get wet. Use a dehumidifier or a product like Damp-Rid to get rid of humidity that can lead to mold. Don’t store anything that’s heat sensitive if you plan to put your items in the attic. (Candles will melt over the summer, I speak from experience). If your attic or shed routinely attract pests like squirrels, bats, or raccoons, make sure you use durable containers that can’t be chewed and will resist any poop that might get on them.
The more you take care of now, the less you’ll have to do next year. When it comes time to decorate again, you’ll thank yourself for taking the time to make everything organized and easy. And you won’t have to rush to the stores to replace non-working, damaged, or broken items, saving you both time and money.
(Photo courtesy of jamailac)