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Is your house a disaster right now? How to cope with the post-Christmas chaos

by respaced on December 28, 2010


Do you have to keep the hideous sweater dear Aunt Betty
sent you for Christmas? Heck, no!

It’s been 72 hours since the Christmas present bomb went off in your house. 
If you are like a lot of people, there’s a lot of new stuff laying around — stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere, stuff that you don’t know what to do with, stuff you don’t really want but feel obligated to keep. Are you a little stressed out about what to do with it all? Here’s a few tips to help you figure out what to do next:

1. Gather all of your presents together so you can get a good look at what you have to deal with. Weed out anything you don’t want to keep (we’ll get to that part later.)

2. Ask yourself if any of the gifts can replace something you already own. If so, put the item to be replaced in your donation station (you have one of those, right? Read this post if you don’t) and put the new item in the old item’s place.

3. Ask yourself if any of the gifts are duplicates of something you already own, but don’t want to replace. Do you really need two sets of slippers or two coffee makers? If you have a second house, such as a beach house, the duplicate item might be useful there. Can you or your spouse use it at work? Can the kids use it somehow? If not, the duplicate item is bound for the return-to-store pile or donation pile. Avoid saving it for “someday.” Storage space is too precious to waste on items that you are not currently using and may never use.

4. You should be left with two piles (besides your donation pile): the items you don’t like from step number 1 and items you do like. For the items you don’t like, but feel obligated to keep (see image of sweaters above), I’m not going to force you to get rid of it. I know how anxiety-producing that can be. Instead, keep it for 6-12 months — long enough for the aunt to see it in use — then get rid of it. Another option is to invite your relative over so she can see the item she gave you being used right away. Now you can get rid of it! Dear old Aunt Betty will be none the wiser.

5. So the question becomes, where do I put the gifts I want to keep? Keep like items together. In places like the kitchen, pantry, bathroom or garage, arrange things the way you would see them in a store. For example, in your kitchen, keep all the bakeware together and lined up on a shelf. Do likewise with the pots and pans, the cooking utensils, the serving ware, etc.

6. You may need to create a home for other items. Store items near where they are used. Most frequently used items need to be stored where they can be accessed without standing on tip-toe (or getting a step stool) or bending down.

7. When it comes to placing decorative items, you may need to follow the “one in, one out” rule to make room. This means you get rid of one item and put the new item in its place. Remember, the more knick-knacks and collectibles you have sitting out, the more difficult it will be to clean around them.

I hope these steps make your post-Christmas clean-up a bit more manageable. Receiving a gift is great; receiving 20 all at once can be bit daunting. It might take up to a week to find a new home for everything. Be patient, work steadily, and soon you will get your house back!

Image courtesy of Robby Mueller at Flickr.

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