First off, we hope everyone had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. Many people will be heading out today for the annual gift exchange / returns, while plenty of others will go out shopping with all those gift cards they got. If you have been following along with our Holiday Checklist & Planning series you may remember we had some after Christmas items listed in the Getting Ready for the Holiday’s article. In case you missed them, we have included them below along with a few tips and tricks that may help you out. While this article is mainly written for the day after Christmas, many of the same things listed apply to Thanksgiving, Halloween, Independence Day, etc…
A time to review:
Take a few minutes and review what worked and what didn’t. Make notes for next year’s holidays to make life a little bit easier. If you haven’t started a notebook or journal, now might be a great time. I personally keep notes on my computer, sorted in different folders.
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree:
There are three main types of Christmas trees, a live one that was cut down, an artificial tree, and my favorite one – a live tree. Depending on the type of tree depends on what should be done with it.
An artificial tree, can be packed up at almost any time, but is generally taken down anywhere between now and just after New Year’s Day. As each type of tree is different, you might want to refer back to the directions for how it should be packaged up for next season. If you are storing it back in its original box, or even in a plastic bag, make sure all holes are taped up. If you have had enough of your existing one – you may see if there is a recycling center near you or give it away to a charity.
A cut tree can be removed at almost any time but should be done before it dries out. Most trees if properly cared for can last up to 5 weeks. Before you go to get rid of it, all the tinsel and decorations should be removed. Most trash companies will not pick up Christmas trees as part of their normal pickup cycle, but may pick them up during a “bulk” pickup day. I would suggest that you contact your local company and see if there is a tree-recycling center nearby where you can drop it off. The nice thing about these places is that they can turn your tree into mulch and use it throughout the year. You can also recycle your own tree by using the needles for mulch around acid-loving plants, mulching the tree yourself, or for those of us with a pond – deep sixing it for the fishes. (MORE: Safety Sunday: Ahhh, bye-bye Christmas)
A live tree requires no disposal, but requires planting after the holidays are over. The first step is to re-introduce the tree back to the outside. You should leave it in a sheltered place on a patio or in the garage for approximately 3 to 4 days keeping it well watered. After this period, you should plant the tree as you would normally. In some Northern areas of this state and the bulk of this country, that may be problematic, as the ground is frozen solid. In these cases, the hole is generally prepared before the winter starts.
While you are taking down your ornaments, throw out any broken or damaged ones. You might also want to take a few minutes to sort through your decorations and keep only what you love for next year and give the rest away. (MORE: Safety Sunday: Ahhh, bye-bye Christmas)
Christmas lights are generally taken down between the days after Christmas until the first weekend after New Years. You should do a final test of them and replace any blown bulbs. If there are any worn wires, you should simply get rid of them. (MORE: Safety Sunday: Ahhh, bye-bye Christmas)
After Christmas Sales:
Stock up on greeting cards, wrapping paper, ribbons, ornaments, and other decorations to replace what was used this year. Most places are probably cleaning out unused stock and if it works for your plans, you can save a ton of money. While you are out, you might want to consider picking up some storage containers for the next step.
Packing and Storing:
By the time it gets to this point, most everyone’s nerves are a little frazzled and occasionally we get a little lazy. If you can work through this, it will save you a lot of time come next year. The first step would be cleaning up one area that is reserved just for the lights, ornaments and other associated holiday items.
Instead of just bundling all the lights together and throwing them in a box, consider placing them in separate shoeboxes inside a larger tub. In most cases, we recommend using plastic boxes that seal to help prevent rodents from taking up residence. Don’t forget to store all the extension cords and timers with them.
Setting up a tub that contains all your wrapping paper & mailing supplies is also a great idea. If this tub will only be used for Christmas presents, it should be stored with all the Christmas decorations. If you also use it for the birthdays and other associated gift giving times, you might want to keep it separate or make sure it is towards the front or on top of the other decorations.
Uggghhh – taxes:
While April 15th is still a long ways off, the end of the year is almost here. If you know you need some more deductions, you only have a few days left to make charitable deductions, make an extra Mortgage payment, or other items that might be recommended by your accountant. (More: Taxes, Recordkeeping, and Clearing up the Clutter)