For some it’s hard to come to the end of the winter holidays. For others it’s a bit of a relief to pack everything away and have a fresh start for the new year. Whether you fall firmly into one of these camps or experience a mixture of both sentiments, we have some tips- for preserving and organizing your beloved decorations, and for enjoying the rest of winter without a bolstering anticipation of the holiday season.
Keep one, toss one:
We’ve all heard this pointer before- for everything new that comes into your home, get rid of one counterpart. Separate children’s toys and books that have been replaced by more age-appropriate gifts. Pull out old or outgrown clothing before adding more to your closets. Grab a few non-perishables from your kitchen cupboards as you put away new foods. And if you’ve purchased some new decorations (Who can resist all the beautiful ornaments or boxes of cards when they’re less than half the usual cost?) reconsider anything you didn’t use this year, and cull your collection of any damaged or timeworn pieces that have no emotional value. All of these things, if in good condition, are welcome donations for local charities. One blogger recommends taking every shipping and gift box you’ve received and filling it with goods already in your home instead of just throwing away the empties: a bit extreme, but imagine how much you could fit into them.
Reorganize to save time and resources later:
If you’ve pulled out all the decorating stops you might feel overwhelmed with the task of cleaning it all up. Start with one area and finish it. And don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. Prioritize putting away items that scream holiday, and leave some more neutral “wintery” things on display: greenery, snowflakes, candles, sleigh bells. (White candle lights in every window can be charming all year long, especially in older homes.) Box items according to the area they were used in, much like you would do if you were moving. For example, everything that goes on the tree is stored together, and everything displayed on your mantle is put in one box, respectively labeled. Clear plastic bins that can be stacked are great for smaller items- you can see what’s inside without rifling through them.
I found many creative and resourceful ideas for storage online. It seems there is no end of uses for paper towel and toilet paper tubes, zipper bags, and plastic cups, and other things you might have lying around. Here are a few:
– Wrap tapers in tissue paper and slide them into paper towel tubes. Use toilet paper tubes inside the bows of a ribbon so they won’t get crushed, or put them in a zipper bag filled with air.
– Line a storage bin tightly with large plastic cups and place an ornament in each one. Egg cartons work perfectly for keeping smaller ornaments safe. This requires a bit more work but it’s pretty ingenious: cut two dowels a little more than the length of a tote, string them with ornaments, and hang the dowels from holes made in the sides of the bin. When it’s time to decorate next year, you can just slide each ornament off the dowel one by one and place it directly on the tree.
– Empty water bottles are a good size for holding individual beaded garlands while also preventing them from getting tangled together.
– Wind light strands around similarly sized pieces of cardboard and stack them in a bin.
– Store leftover wrapping paper rolls in a zipped garment bag on a hanger. This takes up not a great deal more space in your closet than a suit and works all year for birthdays and other occasions. Why not throw some bows and scotch tape in too?
– If you are a hoarder of wreaths, wrap them individually in clear garbage bags and hang them from an inexpensive clothing rack in your garage or basement. Add those wrapping paper rolls mentioned above if you’d like.
A good time for a deep clean:
Most likely you’ve rearranged some furniture to fit all of your decorations out. Take the time and opportunity to sweep/mop/vacuum vacated and normally hard to reach spots before putting everything back in its place. Chances are you adhere to a spring cleaning ritual, and while it may not need to be as intense a project, starting January with a clean and organized home feels like a good way to kick off New Year’s resolutions and intentions. It’s a perfect time to reassess how you clean; explore some new routines, schedules, and tips offered by the pros. Streamline your arsenal of products and try replacing dwindling supplies with healthier (and more economical) options. A spray bottle filled with a combination of water, white vinegar, and dish soap makes a great all-purpose solution. Just do a bit of research, as acids can damage certain surfaces.
Revel in the season:
After the holidays, many of us simply endure the rest of winter. We can be inspired by the people of northern Norway and Denmark, whose languages have words to describe the joys of the sum of hunkering down, enjoying the weather, and spending time indoors with loved ones – words like koselig and hygge (hoo-ga), most closely translated to the English “cozy”. Instead of thinking about what we’re missing in outdoor activities, enjoy cultivating an indoor life. Lots of things make us feel warm and fuzzy, and while different for each person, there are a few that ring true for most.
Here are some easy ways to add cozy to your winter at home:
– Don’t forget about the impact of fragrance on our senses. Make a simmer pot – fill a pan with water, herbs, spices, and citrus slices or cranberries, and let simmer away on the stove top. This is particularly good in dry spells or if someone is congested as it will raise the humidity level slightly. Alternatively you can create your own room freshener with distilled water, rubbing alcohol or vodka, and essential oils. There are several recipes available for different scents. And nothing is as aromatic as baking, with the added benefit of a warm oven to heat the kitchen.
– Fireplaces, wood stoves, and candles are the best mood enhancers. Bonfires and picnics by candlelight, with a backdrop of snow, are common ways those cold weather Scandinavian countries embrace this time of year.
– Add some indoor plants to your home, especially winter flowering varieties. Not only do they add oxygen and help recycle the stagnant air inside a closed building, they contribute color and vitality. Jasmine, hellebores, orchids, cyclamen, and kalanchoe are all recommended on a garden site I visited. Peace Lilies top the list for improving air quality and for their easy care.
– Have a party. This seems a strange thing to suggest after such a busy time. But after taking a couple of quiet weeks to unwind, give yourself and others a mid-winter event to look forward to. A bonfire brunch with steaming mugs of coffee and hot chocolate sounds perfect.