In the 1970s, Britain built its biggest houses with the average living room space measuring just under 25 square metres (269 square feet). Our current houses, especially new builds, are much, much smaller, with the current UK living room space now measuring a measly 17 square metres (183 square feet).
Overall, house square meterage has gone from an average of 83.3 square metres (896 square feet) to 67.8 square metres (730 square feet). By comparison, the average contemporary American home is 213 square metres (2,301 square feet) with some homes being closer to 2,500 square feet or more, which is more than three times the size of the UK’s average home today.
Of course, countries like Germany, France, New Zealand, Australia, and so forth, also have much larger dwellings and it may be because these countries have larger landmasses. That’s not to say some Britons don’t live in large homes, of course, they do, and others in cities often live in even smaller homes, but the average person seldom has enough living space for themselves and their family, never mind a mountain of possessions, too.
That said after the Christmas chaos has settled down and you’ve acquired approximately 5,843 new possessions over the holidays (obviously hyperbolic) in the form of gifts for you and your family (and pets!), then what do you do to tidy all of those things away in the new year? What do you do with the Christmas tree? How do you put away the decorations, the lights, the baubles, the knick-knacks, the Christmas-themed dinner and tableware, the bedding, the Christmas jumpers, and so on? Here’s how to keep your Christmas ornaments and decorations organised after the festive season. Find out how to pack away Christmas!
How to put away a Christmas tree (real and artificial)
You may opt for the Instagrammable photo opportunity of buying a real Christmas tree at a tree farm each year, deciding between Frasier or Douglas fir trees (or some other variety altogether), and enjoying the aroma of pine in the air next to the warm fire or, like many, you may opt for the easier artificial variety, pre-lit or otherwise, to begin the journey of wrestling with strings of lights every annum. No matter your choice of Tannenbaum, when the Twelfth Night arrives, you may wonder what do you do with your tree?
For repurposing and recycling a real tree, you can turn it into mulch for your garden with a chipper, strip your tree to use it as a garden stake, re-pot your tree to be re-grown again, or recycle it at a garden centre.
For an artificial tree, we’re often left wrestling these spiky branches back into a box and wondering how it ever fitted in there in the first place. Some advise taking each section of the Christmas tree and giving it a bear hug to flatten down the branches. Then, you can use twine to flatten and tie the sections so they’re as compact as possible. Be sure to use slip knots and not bows so they stay secure. After these steps, the tree should fit in its original box. If not, you can opt to buy something inexpensive like a mattress bag or a wardrobe box to keep the dust off and ready for use next year.
How to put away your ornaments
At Amazon, eBay, The Range, and various other shops, you can find ornament storage boxes. Each type of storage box has varying capacities from 32 baubles up to around 64 baubles. Depending on how many baubles you have, you may need to buy a few of these boxes. You can individually wrap your more delicate ornaments in bubble wrap and/or tissue paper and place them into each compartment and it’ll make decorating the tree much easier each year. The boxes are inexpensive and average around £10 per storage container or even less if you shop at discount stores.
The good news is that they’ll last for ages and since they won’t be handled very often – once a year to decorate the tree and once to take it down – they should last decades.
Here’s a video of how these boxes work:
How to box up those decorations
Depending on how many decorations you have and if you keep your decor in the attic, the shed, the garage, or elsewhere, you may want to invest in a sturdy stackable storage box or two.
The first tip is to remove the decorations from each room and put them in a central location – your lounge or dining room – and then group like items together.
Second, if you’ve used the compartment ornament box from the point above, it may now be easier to pack away the items that remain: snow globes, nutcrackers, ornaments, plant pots, garland, wreaths, lights, serving dishes, wrapping paper, etc.
Wrap everything in tissue paper or fabric such as napkins and tablecloths and place heavier and flatter items in the bottom of your box and stack in lighter, smaller, or more delicate items on top of and around those. Play a little Tetris with your items – whilst being delicate – to maximise the storage space, especially for those who have smaller homes and smaller spaces to store seasonal items.
You’ll thank yourself next year if you take the time to re-pack your items properly instead of going the tempting route of shoving things anywhere or packing items haphazardly and trying to squeeze the lid shut!
Here’s a video from YouTuber, Seasonal Home UK, demonstrating ways to organise Christmas decor:
Consider decluttering some Christmas items
There are countless decluttering books and programmes out there. With the latest BBC programme, Sort Your Life Out, with Stacey Solomon to the Netflix hits, The Home Edit, and Kon Mari with Marie Kondo, many are seeing the value of only keeping items that “spark joy” or are useful and functional.
If you find that there are those Christmas items that don’t make it out of the box each year, it may be time to downsize your inventory and donate items, even sentimental objects. As tempting as it is to buy more holiday items each year or with each newly favoured aesthetic, it might be wise to consider how much storage space you have and how much stress having extra decorations to take out and put away brings. Some people absolutely find joy in decorating at Christmas and others only do it for their families so do what works for you!
Here are The Minimalism Mom’s three easy questions to ask yourself if you plan to part with some Christmas items. She is an American who has downsized her home and her life by being more minimalistic and purposeful with the items she keeps in her home:
Christmas is such a joyful time of year but the stress of the post-Christmas clean up can leave some feeling that they need a holiday to recover! Follow these tips to make keeping your Christmas items organised and easier to manage each year.