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Holiday Decoration Torture

Updated: May 22, 2023

Ideas to make holiday decorating more fun and easy next year...

When it's time to put the decorations away, are you tempted to toss them all in bins, stuff them away and pretend like they don't exist for another 11 months?

If you haven't already done this, there are steps below to save you from torture next year when you open those bins!

I've been there. I've looked at all those bins (and things piled on top of them) with dread and thought, "Maybe I'll just skip decorating this year..."

Then, at the end of the season, I've thought, "I'll go through them next year..."

And guess what? I DID skip it this year! It was my first year without my beloved Mum and I inherited all her decorations. After years of decorating the tree with her while singing along to Bing Crosby's I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas and dancing around like dorks to The Nutcracker Suite, I just didn't have it in me to put it all up this year.

Some of my resistance was due to the clutter of all our stuff being combined - I hadn't yet had the nerve to go through and do the steps below.

Yes, I'm a professional organizer and I have clutter :) It's why my business name is TidyWild! Sometimes there are more important things to do than tidy, like live this "one wild and precious life" as Mary Oliver puts it.

But sometimes it's time to set everything aside and clear the clutter so we can be more free to enjoy this wild life....

And, in my opinion, after the holidays is the BEST time to clear holiday decoration clutter. I'll be doing it right along with you. I'll post photos in my TidyWild Facebook group.

Give yourself and your fellow decorators a gift for the holidays next year: organized decorations!

Your Future Self will thank you.

First, a note on containers...

I know the sales are great right now! Wait to buy new ones until you've done the steps below...

Then you'll know exactly what you need containers for, how big they need to be and how many you need.

Second, a note on guilt and stress about organizing...

"The only jury that matters is in your own head."

(Thanks Josh Mohr, I love this quote!)

There is no right or wrong way to organize. Martha Stewart and Marie Kondo won't burst through the door and tell you you've done it all wrong. Your OWN brain might come along and say that, but if it does, let it know as many times as needed: there is no bad job!

If you let go of one item...awesome!

If you stuff it all back into random boxes and shove them to the back of a closet...awesome!

“Perfectionism is debilitating. I want you to embrace adaptive imperfection," says KC Davis. She also says about self care tasks, “Being good or bad at them has nothing to do with being a good person, parent, man, woman, spouse, friend. Literally nothing."

We're simply clearing to make life easier next year.

Any drama your brain brings in, set it in a chair, give it a Christmas story to read, and let it know you're not partaking in what it has to offer right now because you're busy taking care of your Self.

Ok, now we can move on to the practical steps :) (Mindset always comes first!)

Here's what I recommend to make next year's holiday decorating more fun and easy:

  1. Set up for success

  2. Gather everything

  3. Go through and decide

  4. Categorize

  5. Get containers

  6. Label

  7. Find a good home

Here's a breakdown of these steps:

1. Set up for success:

  • clear space - a bed, floor or big couch if possible

  • set up containers - garbage, recycling, trash and donations

  • turn off distractions

  • make focused time - setting a timer for 10-40 minutes can help (I wouldn't use your phone - the temptation for distraction can be too much!). If the timer goes and you're not done, you can take a (short) break and set it again


For the most thorough results, gather ALL the decorations in one place so you can see everything you have.

If this is truly too freaky, go one bit at a time.

I definitely prefer to do it all at once and just get it over with! Once we're in the flow, it's nice to just keep going.

3. Go through and decide:

Go through EVERYTHING and decide what you do and don't want. Sometimes our brains tell us THIS IS GOING TO BE TOO HARD! Usually the hardest part is starting, then it gets easier.

I find it's easier to go by category, such as all the lights, then all the tree decorations, then all the fabric decorations, etc.

Tune in to what you TRULY want, and remember: you don't have to keep things out of guilt ("Aunt Tina gave me that so I have to keep it").

And also remember: you WILL have enough, no matter how much you let go of. I promise.

I personally keep only what I love, need and use each year. Yes, there are sentimental items that bring up memories. Yes, sometimes there are tears. Yes, it's ok to only keep what I love, need and use AND yes, it's ok to keep sentimental items I don't put out because they remind me of Mum just seeing them.

Again, there's no right or wrong :) We're just making life easier for our Selves.

And don't worry about organizing what you're keeping yet, go through EVERYTHING first.

4 + 5. Categorize + Get containers

Once you know what you're keeping, categorize everything. Lights with lights, tree decorations all together, dishes, stockings, etc.

Give it all it's own space so you can see how much there is of each thing.

NOW you can decide what containers things should live in. Ask yourself some questions

Do I want red totes (like in the photos above)?

Do I want see-through containers?

Do I want a bunch of smaller containers with a lot in them or fewer smaller ones with clear categories?

I love containers without handles that can break, like the last photo above. I also love see-through containers. I'll likely end up with a couple of both.

6. Label

This can be as simple as a piece of tape that says Xmas or you can list what's in each container like the labeling system laid out in this post by iheartorganizing

Imagine yourself next year and make it easier for that person. I like to label on all sides of a container in case I stick it in in different ways.

7. Find a good home

I like to keep all my Christmas and Thanksgiving bins near each other.

I also like having them in a place where it's not such a pain to put away random things I missed that they take months or years to make it to where they actually belong (inside the bins). Mine are in the back of a hall closet near the kitchen.

The biggest thing is to begin, so if you haven't done this already, I'm right there with you!



Do you feel called to connect with me?

Please remember that I'm here for you! Reach out if you have questions and/or you feel stuck.

There's no need to struggle with clutter anymore - you're not alone and I can help you feel better right away.

For inspiration and organizing tips in your in-box, join my e-newsletter, Sunbeams. Inspiration only, no spam, I promise :)

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