8 Steps to Cleaning up After Christmas

Christmas clean-up — it can be overwhelming, but with a great strategy it can be doable. Don’t let the clean up rob you of joy. ~rachel

1. Have a good attitude. Yes. I just wrote have a good attitude and as I tell my kids I mean it.  Here’s why. I have found that is incredibly easy to slip into a posture of grumbling as one removes ornaments, or puts away presents, or sweeps up pine needles, and reclaims the kitchen. Yes, it’s work. But, honestly, it’s work that I must remember to be grateful for — so many blessings that could be overlooked. So as overwhelming as it is – I really work on trying to keep perspective. And being thankful for all the new movies, games, and Netflix that can keep the occupied.


2. Create mini-goals. When I look at the entire clean up process it’s easy to get a bit frazzled by the scope of what to do. So I create smaller objectives and goals. Gather the ornaments. Bring in the tote boxes and sort. Take Christmas lights off outside. Wash Christmas dishes. And gradually it will all get done. It helps to have mini-rewards as well. Like, for instance, a Starbucks latte when the tree is all done. Priorities, right? 😉


3. Donate. Sometimes I’ll work through this step prior to Christmas, but on years where I miss it {like this year} I’ll bring a big box down into our laundry/storage room and fill it with items that we can donate. Games that got played only a couple times, toys that we’ve outgrown and more. I’ll also bring a big black contractor garbage bag down and work to fill it with stuff that is broken or just doesn’t fit the “donate” category. And, lol, I have to work to actually schedule my pick-up for that donate stuff — often it sits in a corner in my garage — for far too long.

4. Keep one thing out. Last year we kept the top of our Christmas countdown chain hanging high in our dining area. It can be a really small and simple thing — like the paper chain — or it can be something more elaborate. My reasoning? Serves as a reminder of Christmas and keeps our family grateful for the time spent together.


5. Roll the tree. This really only applies to those of you who purchase real trees — but feel free to do it with your artificial one with not the same results.  Once the tree is outside waiting for pickup I’ll take the tree and roll it around looking for the ornament that we forgot to pull off. I’m thinking I’m going to make a special box for that one ornament for the next year —the ornament that almost didn’t make it — or something like that and then it can go on first the following year. Make sure to organize those ornaments now before next year. You’ll be grateful next December.


6. Get the kids involved. (If you’re a risk taker – haaha). Make taking everything down as festive as putting it up. I’ll assign roles — one to get ornaments off, one to sort them (I sort ornaments by child), one to help wrap, one to roll garland, etc… It makes the work light and much more fun. It also helps remind them to be grateful for all the blessings that they recently received.


7. Enjoy that moment where the house feels like it’s gained an enormous amount of space. Seriously. Have you ever had that?  Once the tree is down your house feels like you’ve gained another room? It’s crazy how much extra space I feel like I have then — so I truly try to remember it for those times when I feel like we’re too crowded.

8. Be thankful. Take a moment and just be thankful. For your family, for the time to spend together, for the freedom to celebrate Christmas, for the year, and for the new year, for health, for the presents that you received, and so forth. Let the process of taking down the Christmas decorations be a lesson of gratitude.

How about you? What are your Christmas clean up strategies?

18 Responses to “8 Steps to Cleaning up After Christmas”

  1. December 28, 2011

    Johanna @ These Prices Reply

    This is all great advice. Last night I was looking at everything already filled with dread at the thought of taking it all down.

    My plan this year is to have an empty tote and while I’m putting things away, to move donate/garage sale items directly into the empty tote so that I don’t have to sort through these bins if we have a garage sale this spring. There are a LOT of items that have sat in the totes for 2+ years that I’ll probably never use again, so time to get rid of them.

  2. i always love how clean and fresh our house feels when the decor is put away! you’re so right… it feels like we gain a bunch of extra square footage! : ) love your idea to keep one thing out. love your pictures and your family.

  3. December 28, 2011

    Alicia Reply

    i just found your blog last night and i am loving it! i’m a homeschooling mom too, so i read a lot of your hs posts.

    i started taking down christmas yesterday. and i love how fresh and clean it feels! it really does feel like we gain another room!!

  4. December 28, 2011

    Karen Reply

    Wow! I definitely needed to read this today…especially Tip #1. So far today I’ve been wandering around the house trying to do little bits here and there becoming completely overwhelmed at all that needs to be done. My spirit is less than festive and positive.

    We actually wait until after the New year to take down our tree and decorations, but the finding homes for new toys & clothes & needing to eliminate some old stuff is enough to send me full tilt right now. 🙂

  5. December 28, 2011

    Alicia Reply

    Thank you for this great post! It is tradition to leave everything up in our home until New Year’s Day – if my husband had his way it would be up until the 12th day of Christmas, as is tradition in Ireland but, I just need our house back in order before we start back homeschooling.

    I am so glad I read all your tips … I will read them again right before we begin the process, this weekend, of undecorating.

  6. December 28, 2011

    Cheryl Reply

    Best. Mother. Ever. The End.

  7. December 28, 2011

    ArtyMarti Reply

    I love your plan. Most people make lists of things to do before the holiday, but then become overwhelmed

  8. December 28, 2011

    melanie Reply

    Working on #1 right now 😀

  9. December 28, 2011

    Jimmie Reply

    Goodness, Rachel! Literally! You are oozing gratitude. Beautiful.
    We like to leave up the tree until the new year, but then again, we don’t rush putting it up. I guess if you had it up right after Thanksgiving you’re ready for it to come down. But I’m leaving it up for another week.

  10. December 28, 2011

    CALLIE Reply

    Love this!!! So helpful.

  11. December 28, 2011

    Sarah-Anne Reply

    i absolutely love Christmas and the anticipation but cannot stand the let down afterwards…leaving a little bit of Christmas out is such a great idea. will def be using it.

  12. December 28, 2011

    Samantha Kelley Reply

    Today I took down the tree. I usually do it Christmas night, or the day after. We didn’t do much besides that, so I don’t have much left to do. I am getting my donate box together, and I still have dusting to do-my back just doesn’t like me again this week. There is always tomorrow, right?

  13. December 29, 2011

    Lynn Reply

    I like the leaving one thing out idea…interesting! And I don’t need to roll the tree. What I did last year was clip off all the branches with it inside the house and put them in the yard waste.
    Know that I’m continuing to pray!
    Psalms 57:1-2 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.
    Prayer Bears
    My email address

    • December 27, 2016

      Leslie Reply

      I love the Psalms verses! Thank you, Lynn for posting these truths. With sickness in our house I have been praying to find joy and peace during Christmas. God has provided me refuge in these hard times and has answered my prayers. As for the cleaning, I have my fair share of work to do but I love, love, love the idea of leaving one thing out. I did that two years ago with an olive wood nativity set I received as a gift.

  14. December 29, 2011

    JDaniel4's Mom Reply

    What wonderful tips! I love the idea of leaving one thing out. Giving to others after Christmas is another great tip.

  15. December 30, 2011

    Sonita Reply

    I like the keep one thing out. I hate holiday let down. LOL

  16. January 1, 2012

    Supersmartcarbon Reply

    Inspirational thoughts-thank you for making a chore something to look forward to. One year we kept out the gingerbread farm (we don’t do houses) until March 1st!


  17. December 21, 2014

    kate Reply

    I love everything you write. I would love an article on Christmas priorities with only 4 days to go.I have a newborn( my fourth child), a puppy,a child running a fever, a husband who works until 8 pm, a sister with cancer, etc. I am not going to get it all done. I have started to prioritize…. Food for Christmas morning, one gift per child that will excite them, etc. Each year I get all works up and I have to remind myself that Christmas is 3 hours of one morning. I always have more than enough for 3 hours of playing games and family time. Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts. By the way dropped from my list of priorities are Christmas cards, matching PJs, stocking stuffers, etc.

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