Holiday Clean Up with the Basics

The Holidays are wonderful! Good food, great company, and lots of memories to create. But when all is said and done the holidays can be harrowing. New stuff all over the place that you need to find a place for, credit card bills that need to be accounted for and added into the budget, and decorations to take down and stash somewhere for another year. 

All of these small little extra tasks add up, becoming overwhelming and before you know it Christmas lights as still up in March. There are general everyday organizing tips that can be applied to this time of year for a quicker, more effective Holiday Cleanup. 

  1. Teamwork

    1. Be sure to get the whole household involved. Everyone, no matter how young or old, can assist in the process of returning the house to “status quo”.  First, start with just asking for help — be specific in what you want/need help with. Instead of can you please help clean up from the holidays, try can you please take off the ornaments from the tree and box them up nicely so they do not break. If you need to create room for all of your cool new items in the home, try asking everyone to find 1-5 of their own things that they no longer use, need, or want to donate. If asking does not seem to specifically work in your family don’t be afraid to use positive or negative reinforcement options. 
  1. One Percent Changes

    1. Please, please, please keep in mind that there is often MONTHS of build up leading to the holidays. We start taking out the fancy kitchen gadgets, decorations get pulled out, and new items are regularly being brought into the house sometimes starting as early as September. Therefore, we need to keep in mind that getting it all back to the way we like it is not going to happen in a day. Consider keeping track of all of the things you used versus did not use this year so next year you do not take something out, or even better you find it a new home with someone else. You can also use this to determine if all of the effort you put in to creating this big extravaganza was appreciated or worth it. If not, plan to down scale the next year. 
  1. Purge

    1. This is often the hardest one for people because we create emotional attachments to our things. Also, some people had so little growing up that everything they get seems special. But things we need to consider – do you have the space to comfortably keep everything you have, do you actually use (on a regular basis) the things you have, can someone else benefit more than you from having some of the things you use rarely, and is the meaning behind this item more important than the item itself. Purging can be in the form of throwing away, donations, selling, and many variations of each. We highly encourage people to let go of decorations if you change them out every year, dish/china sets that are just being displayed and never used, old clothes and toys, extra non-perishable food, personal hygiene and care products, and kitchen gadgets that just collect dust. Often you can get some money for your items, otherwise donating to a family or friend in need or a local homeless shelter can make you feel as good or even better than the person receiving your gift. 
  1. Small Projects

    1. We all know that when the holidays are over it feels like the entire house, inside and our needs a complete makeover. All of a sudden we see of of the imperfections of our home come bearing down on us as we race into the New Year. This year keep is simple and small to start. When trying to recover your home from the Holiday whirlwind consider breaking it into bit sized pieces. Instead of lets take all of the decorations down – consider: remove all ornaments and decorations from the tree, take tree down, pack up all decorations in the living room, remove all decorations from the front hall, take down outside lights, the list can go on and on — but if you have multiple little projects they can get distributed across the whole family. Additionally, it is easier to start on something you know will take you 20-30 minutes instead of 2-3 hours. When you complete one task and it takes you less time than you anticipated it feels good, gives a little boost of excitement and motivation, generally leading to starting another project. 
  1. Vision

    1. The best way to get things back in order after the Holidays is to know how you want them to look. Having a vision for what we want our homes to look like, how we want them to run, etc. is the best way to get it there. If you just say you want it clean, or you want everything off the floor, that leaves entirely too much room for interpretation. Instead say everything needs to find a home with like items. Or all surfaces on the main level need to cleared of clutter.
  1. Accessibility

    1. One of the most difficult things about holidays is that the things we only seldom use end up taking the spotlight and getting in the way of the stuff we generally use throughout the rest of the year. The easiest way to ensure you are staying organized, and utilizing the tools to help you do so… is to make sure they are accessible. You want the stuff you use regularly to be able to be pulled out AND put back with little effort. The more work you make for yourself the less likely you are to maintain the systems you put in place. Additionally, any lists. charts, expectations, etc that you set in your home should be visible, and easy to use despite everything going on.
  1. Like with Like

    1. When getting ready to start the big process of cleaning everything up, do your best to do it by item. Find all of the shoes and put those in one pile, all of the clothes, games, coats, dishes, etc. Sort one pile at a time and find the items true home. If it does not have a home consider donation of that item or another one to make room for it. Make sure that when you are putting things back you keep like with like also. For example, baking stuff should all be in the same cabinet, shoes should all be in the same place, and the dogs toys should all be in one place.
  1. Practicality

    1. Do you often bite off more than you can chew? This generally gets even worse in the Holiday season. Along with picking small projects we need to be aware of what we can accomplish in a given period of time. If you only have 30 minutes to work on something, do not assume you are going to be able to completely reorganize the kitchen. Consider setting a goal to go through a drawer or two. Keep in mind what your family is capable of also, if you know they have short attention spans plan lots of small “activities” that they get to help with and include lots of fun breaks in between.
  1. Accountability

    1. After the holidays everyone gets all wrapped up in playing with their new toys, getting ready for the new year, enjoying the last of their vacation that is seems like no one wants to help. The best way to counter this is to establish some rewards and consequences for the whole family — including you about enforcing these systems. For example, if you ask someone to help put away their new toys and they refuse, give them the choice of putting them away or losing them for a few days. One of the biggest things to keep in mind with consequences is that they must be connected to the action — so you cannot take away electronics because the kids do not brush their teeth. Instead take away all sweets and anything that can turn to sugar until they take responsibility for brushing their teeth. If you need help sweeping the floors, consider an extra hour on the computer, a sleep over with their friends, or a special dessert. 
  1. Communication Central

    1. Try to set up one area of your home that becomes your go to area for sharing messages, leaving to-do lists, collecting grocery lists, papers to be signed, bills to be paid, etc. When it all is in one place and all regularly goes to that place it is much more difficult to forget or lose it. Of course you will need to adjust this so it works for your family. In and out boxes for each person, Calendar, message board — consider the bare minimums of what your family needs to communicate effectively with each other and set it up. Give some special incentive to each person that checks it daily and utilizes it, to encourage the rest of the family to do the same.

Holidays can be stressful, but there is no need you need to carry them far into the new year. Take control of your home and your live using these simple tools and ideas for your Holiday Clean Up. We would love to hear about your successes or areas that we can provide support and tips. Please leave your comments below!

Posted in Tips and Tricks.