Wrangle the Post-Holiday Mess With These Pro Tips

living room with holiday decor

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If you're wondering just exactly how you're going to get your home back into shape after weeks of gatherings and taking out all of that holiday decor, the pros are here to help. Read on for experts' top tips for how to tackle that post-holiday mess and ensure that your space looks good as new and that seasonal pieces are neatly stashed away so that you can enjoy the start of the new year in a clutter-free environment.

Take Things One Step at a Time

Before you tear apart your home, make a plan. "Go through room by room," Jessica Litman, of The Organized Mama, suggests. "Don’t try to reorganize and rearrange everything at once. Plan out a strategy for how you are going to set things back up." Need help determining where to begin? Litman weighs in with a piece of advice. "I like to start in the bedroom because you want to ensure you get a solid night’s rest after all the holiday festivities," she says. "And it is likely the place you stored most of those items you didn’t want any guests to see."

Stock Up on Holiday Decor Storage Now

Make a plan for how you intend to stash away your holiday decor items so that you can be prepared when it's time to take down your display in January. "We have all of our Christmas decorations organized in big, clear plastic bins," Kat Jamieson, tastemaker and author of Blended, shares. "Once the first week of January rolls around, we aim to have all of the decorations and lights done and put away neatly in the bins."

Jamieson suggests sorting by category to simplify the process. "We try to keep all lights in one bin, all ornaments in another bin, et cetera, so things stay organized." If you don't have clear bins— or yours are quite full— follow this tip from professional organizer Amy Dobson of Reclaim Interiors. "Label your bins very specifically and take a picture of the inside of each bin before you put everything away for the season," she offers. "This will save you from having to figure out exactly which bin was used to store each strangely shaped piece when you pack everything up again."

christmas storage bins

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Part With Unwanted Gifts

Not thrilled with every present you received this season? "Don’t hold onto gifts just because you got it," Litman says. "It is ok to part with things you don’t find useful or enjoy on display." Dobson agrees, "I think a lot of people get hung up on keeping gifts they've received that they don't want or like," she says. "Just because someone gave you something doesn't mean you should keep it forever. You can receive the gift in the spirit it was intended and be truly grateful for the act of generosity and thoughtfulness behind it." Plus, it's easy to donate items to those in need or sell them on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace.

christmas gift boxes

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And Put Away Those You Do Love

If your holiday gifts have been on display by the tree for weeks, it's time to put them away where they will live permanently. "Treat the new gifts as if they already belong in your house," Litman says. "If you got a mug, for example, store that mug with the other mugs in your kitchen." Of course, this may mean abiding by a "one in, one out" rule if space is limited. "If you notice you have too many, declutter what you don’t like," Litman adds.

Grab a Few Key Groceries

Have seasonal treats left over from celebrating with friends and family? Think of ways that you can tweak them to enjoy them for a bit longer. "We’ll often hit the grocery store to get supplemental ingredients to repurpose dishes," says event planner Elise Keen of Keen Events. "This year after Thanksgiving we made some turkey pot pie and turkey chili that we could enjoy for the week and also could freeze," she says. "Leftover pie? Throw it in a blender with a scoop of ice cream to whip up a frappe."

Not into leftovers galore or have lots of supplies on hand? "If you are buying a lot of special ingredients for holiday baking that you don't normally use otherwise, you can give away the excess on your local Buy Nothing Group," Dobson comments. "I have given many things that way myself and often see food items listed by my neighbors, even partially used items."

christmas cookies

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Do a Final Clean

Get your house looking fresh for the new year! "Once you have all your Christmas decorations packed and stored, do a quick clean of the house," Courtney Ward, of Mainley Modern Events, says. "This will ensure all the little pine needles are cleaned up and any dust that accumulated while decorations were hung."