Un-decking the halls

Turn after-Christmas chores into a festive family night

By Jeannie Hund
After-Christmas ideas

Whether you’re one of those people who has the tree to the curb by December 27 or one who’s just barely de-tinseled by Valentine’s Day, tearing down after Christmas is usually a real chore…especially if you have to do it all by yourself. Fortunately, with a very, very tiny bit of planning, you can enlist your family and make packing away your Christmas decorations a fun annual tradition. Here are a few of our favorite ideas for un-decking the halls together.

Get your Scrooge on

This is the time of year when everyone gets a little too quiet when “Jingle Bell Rock” comes on the radio. Christmas is over: Let. It. Go. Make a playlist of decidedly un-Christmas music, or put on a movie that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.


Ornament Storage Tips

Tips From the Hallmark Archives

Hallmark stores hundreds of thousands of pieces of paper, art, textiles, and nearly everything else relating to the history of greeting cards going back 300 years. It also archives all of the products the company has created in its 100+ years of business.

Hallmark archives collection manager Sharman Roberts shares these tips to help you safely pack and store your treasured Christmas ornaments and other holiday decorations.

  • Dust off the ornament or decoration before storing it. If it has any metal hooks, remove those before packing to avoid scratching paint or delicate surfaces.
  • Use the original box of the ornament or decoration if you still have it. If you don’t have the original box, wrap each ornament and decoration individually. Use acid-free tissue paper for metal and paper ornaments. Use cotton batting (sold at craft and fabric stores) for glass or more fragile decorations and ornaments.
  • Store decorations in boxes or plastic containers that closely fit the size of the decoration. The size of the container is more important than what the container is made of. You want a little room around the item so you can add tissue paper or cotton batting around the sides. Partitioned boxes (like egg cartons for small ornaments or boxes used to hold bottles of wine for larger decorations) are best for storing several individual items. Use plenty of padding between each item.
  • Label your containers. You will be so glad you did when you pull out decorations the following year.
  • After you’ve packed your decorations, store the containers in a place that doesn’t get too hot or too humid. Neither a hot, dry attic nor a damp basement is the best place for your treasured items to hibernate.
  • If you stack your containers, put the heaviest containers on the bottom.

Serve anything but eggnog
Keep food simple for your un-decking evening. Order a pizza or make hot chocolate and microwave s’mores. You can even go healthy (no time like the present) with a tray of fruits and veggies.

Divide and conquer
Assign one person to take down ornaments, another to collect hooks, another to remove lights and another to place ornaments in their boxes—you’re going for the opposite of an assembly line here. Little kids can add an element of madness to the magic, so be sure to assign them age-appropriate tasks if they’re going to be a part of the process.

Tuck away memories
Make it a habit to tuck in a few little reminders of this year’s Christmas along with your ornaments: a pretty bow someone gave you, your annual holiday letter and family photo, a meaningful Christmas card you received, even an album of your kids’ Christmas art. This will spark memories and contribute to the sentimental mood when you open your storage box next year.

Include holiday cheer for next year
You and your family can also pack away small things to surprise yourselves next year. Buy a few new ornaments or a fresh packet of tinsel now that they’re on sale. Slip in a note to yourselves, a mix CD, or even a recipe you didn’t have time to try this year. You can also let the kids add something that they will look forward to—as long as it isn’t perishable.

Tip: Find a blank book with plenty of space for writing and keeping mementos and store it with your ornaments. Each year, when you unpack your decorations, place it on your coffee table so that visitors can contribute thoughts, photos, drawings—whatever. Soon it will be a holiday treasure.



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