The After-Christmas Cleanup

This is a guest post by Kelly Smith from miskellany, long-time blogger and the mastermind behind the Green Holidays series

I love Christmas – the warmth, the light, the togetherness, and, yes, the food. But there is also something so energizing and renewing about cleaning up after Christmas and starting the new year with a clean slate. If Christmas cleaning and organizing are not among your strengths, here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Take down the Christmas tree.

If you have an artificial tree, then pack it back up to the attic. If you used a real tree, then find your closest tree-mulching facility or other eco-friendly local disposal options.

2. Organize your ornaments.

If you don’t have a good ornament organization system, use leftover Christmas tissue paper, packaging, and boxes to keep your ornaments safe for the year to come. If you live in the humid, roach-filled south, then paper/cardboard storage options may not be the best way to preserve your ornaments in the long term. Instead, you may wish to purchase plastic bins at after-Christmas sales or thrift stores.

3. Take out the trash.

Sort out the recyclables (heavily used cardboard boxes) from the reusable items (gift bags, gift boxes, and ribbons) from the trash (torn, shiny wrapping paper). Store gift wrapping supplies for next Christmas, recycle the recycleables, and take any unsalvageable trash out to the curb.

4. Clean out the toys.

December 26 is a holiday called Boxing Day, which is celebrated in England. The idea is to box up what you don’t need and give it to the poor. If your family enjoyed a gift bonanza at Christmas, consider storing, rotating, selling, or donating items that your children have lost interest in or grown out of. Then use your existing toy storage system to accommodate new toys.

5. Give a good green cleaning.

Once you have picked up and organized, give your house a good green cleaning. Select green cleaning supplies to clean the floors, countertops, and more after all the craziness of the holidays.

6. Get the whole family involved.

Ask each family member to pick up, purge, and clean their own personal space to take the load off of you and increase their personal investment in the family home.

7. Open the windows.

If the weather permits, then open the windows and air out your house. Indoor air pollution is especially problematic in the winter when we have less fresh air circulating in our homes.

8. Sit back and enjoy your clean home.

Put your feet up and relax with a cup of tea and a used copy of one of my favorite children’s books, The After-Christmas Tree by Linda Wagner Tyler.

9. Start a new calendar.

Pull out your new calendar for the new year, and pencil in regular appointments for yourself to clean and organize your home, if that is not something that comes naturally to you. Tackle one space at a time. If your home is well organized, then you are less likely to purchase items unnecessarily and waste money, because you will know where to find everything.

10. What are your tips for cleaning up after the holidays?

For more great ideas on being green and saving green during the holidays, 
visit my Green Holidays page (continually updated).

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  1. Guess what we are doing right now? Cleaning up! The gift bags are my favorite! Just fold and store. We'll be putting the tree out on the curb for recycling by the city on Thursday. Hope we have time for a few books with the kids when we're all done. Thanks again for another great post, Kelly!

  2. It's become much easier to recycle Christmas wrappings and such, which I'm thankful for! And we love to donate things after (and even before!) Christmas, too. Thanks for these suggestions!

  3. We take our clean up slower - our tree might not be down until mid-January!

    Our biggest thing is cleaning up after the company. Once the dishes and laundry are caught up, we can relax and enjoy the season. It doesn't end Dec. 26. :-)

  4. Caroline, excellent point! I remember burning the wrapping paper as a kid -- yikes!

    robbie, we would keep the tree up longer, but my husband forgot to water it for several weeks and it is shedding like crazy. I like to leave the tree up for most of Jan. too if I can get away with it. Right now it's upright in the backyard for the kids to enjoy outside.

  5. We use the 1 in 1 out rule for toys and it seems to work. Right now it is just us doing it because he is too young but next year we will involve him and ask what he wants to donate to make room for his new toys.

  6. We always have a big recycling bin right in the middle of where we open up the gifts. It helps the kids learn that in all occasions you should be mindful of your waste.


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