Traditionally the day after Christmas when people boxed alms for the poor or when employers gave servants a Christmas Box.
In our house it ranges from boys boxing each other as the excitement and exhaustion of Christmas finally catches up with us to boxing up Christmas (in the odd years when we are traveling right away and won’t be home for weeks).
If you are like me at this point, the momentum of the Christmas has come to a crashing halt and you are sitting in a bit of lethargy looking at the things that will have to be packed away soon.
Not yet, but soon.
When that day comes, it may be good to have some ideas for packing up the annual decorations with next year in mind. We also like to think through what worked this year and what we would like to change for next year.
So here are some tips to file away to make packing (and unpacking) more efficient:
- Decorating is exciting. Packing away? Not so much. Plan a celebration for when the house is back to normal. If you drink a cup of cocoa as a family when the tree is finished, consider drinking a cup of cocoa when the last pine needle is swept away.
- While you are all together, talk about what you did/didn’t like about this Christmas season. Decide what you’d like Christmas to look or feel like next year. Write it down. File it. Next year you’ll know what to include in your schedule and what to avoid. I also put a reminder on my calendar on November 1st to remind myself where I filed the plan so we will be reminded of want to do differently with time to accomplish it.
- Pack Advent supplies in their own box so that you can get them out by December 1st, even if the rest of the decorating needs to wait. We like to include our advent calendars, our German Pyramid, and our nativity sets in this box, so they are among the first thingsout. A post-it note with any new traditions we want to start next year makes a great addition to this box, too.
- Pack all your Christmas music, books, coasters, and blankets away with the Christmas decorations. It frees up lots of space for the rest of the year and increases the appeal of seeing them again when Christmas rolls around.
- Wrap lights around paper towel tubes. Plug ends into each other to keep from unraveling. Stuff the extra bulbs inside the tube. Next year plug them in before unwinding to verify that they work.
- Pack ornaments by person. Last year we bought a plastic bin for each child. When we packed ornaments, each one wrapped and stored their ornaments in their own bin. This year tree-decorating stress was dramatically reduced. There were no fights over similar-looking ornaments, no congestion waiting for Mommy to unwrap and distribute ornaments, and no tears over “missing” ornaments that would later be found at the bottom of the box. Someday, when they are ready to decorate their own tree, it’ll be easy to “gift” them their ornament bin. I keep a fine-tipped, permanent marker in our ornament bin to label any new ornaments as we decorate.
- Take a page out of Bob the Builder’s book… Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Cut off card fronts for use as gift tags next year. Or make gift boxes out of greeting cards. It’s a simple way to make the most out of those expensive cards you receive. If you feel funny about having writing on the inside of your box, you can use card stock for the bottom. We read all the cards one last time and then cut off the covers to use next year.
- Make a place mat out of Christmas photos you received. Paste special photos onto 16″ x 12″ piece of poster board. You can overlap or trim photos if needed. Use a metallic marker to add names to photos that aren’t labeled, flip it over and add more photos to make it double sided. Don’t forget to include the year somewhere! Our local office supply store will laminate this for about $3. It is a fun memory builder over the years, and a great way to clean off the refrigerator! I hate throwing all those pictures away.
- Store your wreath hanger in the bag or box with the wreath. We actually store all of the outdoor decorations and their hangers in one box. The outdoor lights are in there, too. So if we have a nice day, we only have to pull out one box and the ladder to get going. If you have lots of duplicate tools laying around, you could also add any tools you always need for this project.
- Pack a box with all of the Christmas wrap, bags, bows, tissue. Purchase additional tags & wrap at after Christmas sales. Store this box in the front of your decorations for easy access. This will free up room wherever you normally keep gift wrap.
- Replace any needed items via after Christmas sales. There will be reduced prices on lights, trees, gift wrap, ornaments, etc. If something wasn’t working this year, now is the time to replace it.
- Make candy cane syrup from all those candy canes left lying around. This is great in hot chocolate or on vanilla ice cream. It’s easy and makes pretty gifts. Pink? Think Valentines!
- Update your Christmas mailing list before you discard the envelopes from this year’s cards.
- Pack up special Christmas clothes with your decorations. If your sweaters, Santa hat, and bell necklaces are in the same bin as your advent calendar, you can get both out to enjoy by Dec. 1, even if the rest of your decorations are still waiting.
As you pack away “Christmas” be sure to recount the memories from this year and Christmases past. And… don’t pack away Jesus. He was born to be a part of your whole year.