Having a clean and organized home always feels great and is a good way to start off the year, right? Well, I don’t know about you but organizing is NOT what I usually want to be doing before or after a busy holiday season.
When I was asked to contribute an article offering my professional advice for de-cluttering your home when decorating for the holidays, a few common threads popped up. Not only in my experiences as a designer, but my personal spaces as well:
How do I create a holiday atmosphere when I have existing elements that create the “life of the space”?
PITCH, PURCHASE AND PREPARE
First, don’t stress. Clutter stresses me out enough for all of us. Second, it's always helpful to remember to start clean and look at it from a fresh perceptive. Here is how we do that:
Spring cleaning! Well, Fall cleaning. It is time to pull out ALL (not just winter season. Get a jump on the rest) that holiday décor, check on their existing storage vessels and evaluate the way in which you have stored them. If they are dilapidated, falling apart at all, hard to see what is in them, missing lids, stashed in the attic where you forget them, PITCH them. It is much simpler in the long run to be storing your holiday décor in space efficient, organized “homes”. Remember that these will differ based on your geographical location and temperatures through the year. Go get new ones!
PURCHASE! I prefer clear, plastic, tupperware-like bins or boxes. This allows me to see what I am looking for with little moving around and opening boxes or bins in my garage. I try to use clear containers/tubs with red and green lids for the winter holidays, clear containers with orange and black lids for Halloween, etc.
Proper preparation is half the battle to get to clutter free, seamless, organization. Now prepare your spiffy new containers! Unpack your old ones, lay out the decorations you want to use this year where you can see them all and in the space you intend to use them if possible. Then take the remaining decorations you do not plan on using this year and start to PREPARE your new containers. I store my more traditional, kid ornaments separately from my more elegant, adult- do- not- touch, delicate ornaments, my light strands (my nemesis) in a bin, you get the gist.
Now that you have all those holiday decorations laying all over your living room you can’t help but wonder, “WHERE is it all going to fit?”.
That is the grand poobah of holiday decorating tips that’s going to make your house look festive and elegant and like Mrs. Claus and Martha Steward came and designed it all for you... as opposed to Adam Sandler trying to design a set for his Chrismakah 4 video!
LESS IS MORE.
For every holiday item you want to use (outside of your Christmas tree and decorations) on a mantle, table, wherever, remove an accessory that is in the area you want to place your holiday décor and place where you are staging the holiday items.
There are exceptions. You have this amazing vase that Grandma Mary left you. We all have sentimental items in our homes that we enjoy seeing. Those accessories you can leave where they are or even move to a new area temporarily and give it a new sense of purpose. I’m talking about the huge candles that have been collecting dust, the nicknacks, the vases you’ve been gifted, the lava lamp you’ve been dying to get rid of from your husband’s frat house days. It’s temporary. Remember the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder”? Maybe not the lava lamp, but you know what I mean.
Change out the color of your existing candles (stash them) to the appropriate holiday color. I love using color appropriate and cohesive ones with my existing décor and a holiday flair. I know that not ALL your daily décor can be exchanged and stored. Try to rethink where you can repurpose or integrate those. Remember, it’s only temporary so your holiday décor can make its debut and shine for a short time.
An equation to remember is Put one (holiday décor) up + take one (daily décor) away = less clutter
Once you’ve got all your holiday décor up and your tree is placed, take a step back. Look at all those items that you took down…do you need to put anything back up that you can’t temporarily live without? Do you have spaces that feel empty to you or are you enjoying the simplicity you just created? If you want to ensure that your holiday decorating is a seamless integration to your existing décor, you will have to move some things out or at the least, around.
CLEAN UP, CLEAN OUT, REPEAT
Lastly, what about all the leftovers you must now temporarily hide? Remember those brand new containers? You got it… Start loading it up! Store them in a place that makes it easy for you at the end of the season to get them out and reverse the process. Pull them out and unload your daily décor and replace, NEATLY, with your holiday décor and store for next year! You will LOVE me next year if you force yourself to take the extra minutes to reorganize your holiday decorations in your new containers.
When I find lights that were put away neatly, I find THAT to be a Christmas miracle! If done systematically, holiday decorations will not clutter your living space.
THERE IS ALWAYS NEXT YEAR
If all else fails follow these simple steps:
Take a deep breath
Have a holiday beverage concoction in hand
Repeat after me, “Less is more, “ One up + one down = clutter free holiday décor” or “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”
Dive in! Happy Holidays!