52 Weeks: #42 Taking control of your holiday decorations

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Well I have a feeling I’m not going to make any friends with this post but I think it needs to be said especially as we enter into the heavy duty three holiday season….Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas…whew.

Today I want to focus on holiday decorations.  Stores are stocking their shelves with all sorts of goodies hoping you’ll get so wrapped up in the cutest of it all you’ll plum forget to think about whether or not you have the space to store them.  Listen it happens but starting today I hope you’ll hear my silly little voice in your head instead going “do you have the room to store this, do you have the room to store this, do you have the room to store this?” over and over again until you drop whatever gizmo you had in your hands just to shut me up.  Hahahaha, okay maybe that’s a bit extreme, I’d probably only say it twice 🙂

My kids and I took a drive around town last night to check out the Halloween decorations and we saw some simple houses with just one blow up decoration:

and houses with two:

To houses that go all out:

And this is nothing compared to Christmas decorations!

Now I get it, I promise you I’m not a total bah humbug.  It’s fun, the kids love it, yada yada yada.  But what I don’t get it is this.  When the holidays are over those decorations have got to go somewhere.  Most often it’s the garage.  I’ve seen enough garages now to know that many of them are storage warehouses.  The cars live in the driveway while the “stuff” takes up residence in the garage.  How much does a blow up decoration cost?  Now how much does a car cost?  Why in the world is the car the one sitting in the driveway?  Honestly it makes absolutely no sense at all to me.

Here’s another way to look at it.  Holiday decorations are used for just a short time of the year and the rest of the time they need to be stored whether it’s in the garage, attic, hallway or basement.  You are giving up prime storage real estate space for something you use for just a short period of time.  Not a big deal if you have the space (go crazy in that case!) but most of us don’t unfortunately.  Are your living spaces cluttered to the max because you have run out of storage?  Does your vacuum live in the hallway while your holiday decorations take up a valuable closet?  Think about it.  Is it time to take another look at the volume of your holiday decorations and perhaps where you are storing them?  Only you can answer that.

Remember holiday decorations are not a necessity.

One trick I use to keep myself from buying more than I can store is to use a limiting container.  Designate a container that fits the storage space you reasonably have available and then keep that in mind when you are out shopping.  If you buy something new you’ll know that something else might need to go to make room for it.  It works beautifully!

Purge until it fits.

Questions to ponder:

1.  Do your holiday decorations take up valuable storage space that could otherwise be used for things that clutter up the rest of your home?

2.  Are all your holiday decorations stored together?  Are you utilizing limiting containers?

3.  Have you given this any thought before today?


Please feel free to share your organizing journey and encourage one another in the comments. You are also invited to link up to the linky below with any posts related to your 52 weeks of organizing participation or to any post of an organizing nature that you feel will inspire and encourage others in their quest to get organized. Please remember to link back to here though so we can reach out to as many people as possible in need of some inspiration.

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Filed under: 52 Weeks of Organizing, Clutter Control


33 Responses to 52 Weeks: #42 Taking control of your holiday decorations

  1. 1
    Shannon says

    We don’t have a lot of decorations that aren’t Christmas decorations – I have a few for Easter and I think that’s about it. I have a section of our storage room just for Christmas decorations – they’re all together in bins down there…I was actually just in our storage room tonight and I realized that the Christmas decorations and the baby gear is the only really useful stuff in our storage room – I’m going to spend the next few weeks getting rid of the rest of the stuff because IT is taking up too much space!

  2. 2
    Rebecca says

    Hahaha okay I love this post because when I see yards full of holiday decor I wonder the same thing “where do they keep it all?”. Glad I’m not the only one! We live on post in a nieghborhood that has no garage. We have a tiny shed that houses Christmas decor, tools and camping equipment. There’s not any other real storage space in the house except the laundry room. But I still see houses with tons of decor and no idea where they keep it. Under the beds maybe? 😛 I don’t decorate much indoors for other holidays/seasons because there’s nowhere to put it all the rest of the year. Though, when we move and have more space I just might give myself a closet size area for fun mantel decor and interchangeable throw pillows.

  3. 3
    Suzanne Jackson says

    You make some great points here, Laura. I think that decorating for the holidays (and storing decorations) can really become a burden rather than a joy. I’m a Willow House consultant, and one thing I love about doing design workshops is showing ladies how to use basic decor and/or entertaining pieces in multiple ways for multiple seasons, minimizing both storage and the time it takes to decorate. Many of the ideas I share are beautiful but simple enough to allow your children to share in. Some ideas can be seen here: http://www.mystyleshare.com/Account/Profile/Suzanne

    Keep it simple and enjoy the moments more.

  4. 4
    The Bearded Iris says

    Oh my gosh – I have not given this ANY thought until today!!! What a concept? And here I’ve been all this time trying to cram more and better stylish matching plastic bins in the corners of my basement and garage, when really, what I ought to do, is stop organizing all this EXCESS CRAP!!!

    I didn’t even want to get out the Halloween decorations this year because I just feel like there is no extra room for seasonal trinkets. So I let my kids do it all while I ate bonbons and watched Dr. Oz one day.

    Now of course I totally regret that. My kids DECORATED my piles of clutter. Just shoot me. Happy frickin’ Halloween. 😉

    • 4.1
      Laura says

      Okay seriously if I had been drinking something I would be needing to purchase a new computer right about now. You crack me up girl!! Love it!!

  5. 5
    Laura says

    I love holiday decorations but I have NO storage space. I have to limit myself to just Christmas. I do have one storage box for all the other holidays. I keep wanting to make or buy more but I know I have no place to store it 🙁 I have one closet that I use for those boxes. But I’m going to need to figure something else out.

    Like Bearded Iris, I just need to get rid of most of the stuff I have. It would make it a whole lot easier to clean.

  6. 6
    Living the Balanced Life says

    I used to have 2 large totes with all my Christmas decor (the only holiday I decorate for other than flowers). And I had a garbage bag with some fake poinsettas. I think I got the poinsettas 20 years ago! Last year I finally looked through all of what I had, and pulled out all the stuff I wasn’t using or was just plain ragged (the poinsettas!) When I was done I had one large tote and one small box. My husband is very happy about hauling less up and down from the attic!
    Oh, and now I buy FRESH poinsettas each year!
    How to get more done in a day

    • 6.1
      Megan says

      One! Wow! I hate to admit, I have 8! EIGHT!
      I aspire to be you.

  7. 7
    Marcy says

    This year I did not purchase Halloween decorations. a) I dont have the money b) I dont have the space and c) I dont have the time to put them up/take them down.
    As a family with an older child, I am planning on doing Halloween events instead. I think the memories of a corn maze and carving a pumpkin will last longer than a blow up ghost from Wally world.

    • 7.1
      Sarah says

      We also opt to get real pumpkins, do a maize maze and hay ride at a local farm, sip some apple cider etc. I find natural decorations nicer to look at in general. Although I do have one glazed ceramic pumpkin that I leave out most of the fall.

      For Christmas, I purged and organized my decorations as my Week 1 project of the 52 weeks!

  8. 8
    Megan says

    Amen Sista’! Those are all the same things I do.

    Not only are garages and attics full, but in my town storage units are popping up like dandelions. They are everywhere and they are ugly. I’d be so glad to see some of them go.

    I will say though, even though I cannot support it here in my small home, I do appreciate the families that go all out at Christmas, because they are so fun to drive by and my kids love it. THat being said, for the most part they are usually retired people with room to spare.


  9. 9
    Megan says

    I’ll probably get hunt down and shot for saying this too, but one blow up = cute. 5 blow-ups = well, not cute.

  10. 10
    April says

    My goal this year is a budget of $0 for decorations. They aren’t a necessity and we spent the money in a better way this summer-our family road trip which gave us a lifetime of memories. 🙂

  11. 11
    Ellie says

    I so needed to read this. Autumn decorations are limited to a fall wreath and centerpiece plus some candles. Valentine’s Day decorations are few. The only other holiday I decorate for is Christmas and that is over the top. I do have the storage space that is easily accessible by me so dh doesn’t have to help unless he wants. It is very organized and the decorations are easily found. However, I have way too much.

    This weekend I will continue going through them and donating to Goodwill in time for others to use them this year. Thanks for the motivation.

  12. 12
    Lisa says

    I love my holidays and as a former teacher, I had tons of holiday decorations (for all the holidays) not only for home but also for my classroom. I moved across country to a smaller place and then I lost my teaching job last year after 3 years here, so I have the storage and money problem as well. Last year I started selling some of my collectible holiday things on Ebay and they did well. The generic stuff I sold at yard sales. I also sold most of my huge collection of holiday sweaters and outfits. They were taking up valuable closet space just to be used once a year. A few decorations should be enough, because the spirit of holidays is about friends, family, and celebration, not about things. So next time I see that holiday stuff for 75% off at those tempting after holiday sales, I will pass and think about wanting to be able to park my car in the garage instead of parking boxes of stuff I only use once a year. Luckily for me, there are still people out there who want to buy all the holiday stuff I want to sell. Don’t talk them out of it too much, or I won’t have customers!

  13. 13
    Kerrye says

    Very well said. This year I have limited myself to NO NEW holiday decor. Exceptions: only things that will be used up – pretty “holiday” soaps for the sinks, holiday candles, fresh fruits/pumpkins/flowers…

  14. 14
    Kathy says

    After 19 years living in our “starter home” , and having recently moved to a larger home with a garage and a separate shop that is larger than my old home, storage is not an issue anymore. I even joked to my MIL that our storage has storage. However, in going through all of our decorations I found many things that I have hung onto for the day when we would have the space to display them, or because they were a gift, not because I still love them. I am planning on purging even more after talking to my family and finding they too have no attachment to many of the decorations. I know there is someone out there who will be thrilled to have a Christmas village or Santa frame.

  15. 15
    MsCaroline says

    Wow, this would have been so useful to me about a year ago – now, it’s kind of a non-issue! Our family moved to Seoul, South Korea, in June, and we went from a large suburban American house with an attic, garage, and tons of storage space to a small high-rise apartment with only two storage closets that have to hold EVERYTHING, including coats, luggage, lightbulbs, hardware, some of my cookware (no storage space in the kitchen) and extra towels and blankets (Koreans apparently don’t ‘do’ linen closets). Of course, we now no longer have a yard or a house to decorate, so we didn’t need nearly as much, but it was still a huge challenge for me to try and condense my decorations into a couple of rubbermaid storage containers. I ended up bringing basically a wreath for each season and one or two of our favorite decorations ( a ceramic pumpkin and a harvest tablecloth for Fall, for example) for each holiday, but that was it. All of my seasonal decor (including Christmas tree ornaments) fits into two tubs. I might have brought more (for example, we had a ‘Halloween tree’ with ornaments that I always put up back home) if my kids were younger, but they are both teenagers and seem happy to have just a couple familiar decorations to make it seem like home and give things a nice seasonal touch.

  16. 16
    Brennan's Mom says

    My holiday decorations are on my list – and when I made my list last January, I was certain I’d have them done by summer… Now as the fall slips away and winter is going to be upon us… I’ve done nothing…

    Except add an entire closet full of Halloween decorations! That I don’t really have room to store!

    I suppose it’s a case of getting carried away and caught up in the moment. I know I didn’t need the 3 stuffed pumpkins, the table cloths, giant spider or streamers, spider webs or caution tape… But it just seemed like a good idea at the time! I did buy them with a plan – after Halloween I’m going to go through my seasonal storage space and purge and sort and only keep what fits in the bins (I will buy) to store the stuff in.

    Thanks for the inspiration – next time I’m going to go overboard, I will give pause and think about where I might find room to store it all!

  17. 17
    raven says

    We go ALL OUT in decorating for Halloween and Christmas 🙂 The rest of the time, just a little touch here and there. Last year, we finally really organized everything. We have very limited storage in the important places, which means we do have a rented storage unit we’re going to be taking advantage of now. Our garage is *under*sized – can’t even put a toolbox on the “pad” to pull in both cars and be able to close the door and/or get out of either car; the attic ductwork is huge and meandering and we only have a 5×3′ floored section; and the “under the stairs” closet is only 14″ deep (there’s just dead space behind that wall; we’ve checked.)

    I got orange bins with black lids on clearance at Target for $2.50 – and bought 9. In addition, we have one larger box on wheels to hold a large animatronic. All of these fit in our outside storage building and stack.

    Thanksgiving is one single box (brown) that will likely be getting completely purged as it was for our formal dining room, which we’ve since converted to a library. I have not yet decided for sure. Similar bins that are singular are Mardi Gras (green), Luau (pink), Blacklight (grey), New Year’s (white).

    Christmas is another one with several bins, and stored in the attic. I took a similar advantage of a sale at Lowe’s last year and got red bins with green lids for $2.47 each, 2 wreath holders, and a wrapping paper holder. They hold everything, and fit in the attic with enough room to spare for the singular holiday boxes mentioned above. We got rid of our large artificial tree (though the children each have small ones and lights and ornaments for their rooms in a bin) and get real trees now; no huge heavy box to store anymore!

    Unfortunately since we’ve gotten a large inflatable pool, the Halloween decorations will probably start being homed at our climate controlled storage that we rent so the pool can go in the outside storage building in the side yard.

    Holidays are very important and traditional for our family and something none of us are willing to give up or minimize. The kids have excellent and enjoyable memories of them and I hope they continue to for many years to come. I also dislike disposable items and so to be nicer to the environment we did buy and store and reuse lots of things (real table cloths as opposed to disposable, plates, cups, etc). We LOVE decorating and getting into the spirit of it all – the house feels pretty empty when it’s all gone in January!

    • 17.1
      Kaz in Oz says

      I am grateful that the whole decorating thing is not that big here. I have 2 boxes of tree decorations along with our tree (real trees don’t do too well in an Aussie summer) and our nativity and that is it. No Halloween (we don’t do it), Easter (only the real reason is celebrated in our house), Valentines Day or Australia Day decorating either.
      Christmas morning will be spent at home and then church, then off to friends 60km away for lunch on our way to our family 5 hours away for a big family lunch the next day. So no point to go overboard really.
      We will also be moving fairly regularly from now on, so I am grateful that I don’t have to worry about where I will fit stuff in that only gets used once a year. In this place I have enough of a struggle fitting in my meagre linen supply.

  18. 18
    Martha (MM) says

    Great post Laura. I’ve been thinking a lot about holiday decorations as I’ve been decluttering, many are being donated. From now on for holidays I plan to use seasonal flowers on each side of my front door and two seasonal wreaths on the double doors. Inside will be a center piece for the dining room table, kitchen table and patio table. That will be it other than a tree at Christmas and I’m only keeping the most special ornaments – tons of holiday decluttering to do!!

  19. 19
    Jen says

    My grandparents and parents go all out for Christmas. They have what many would consider excessive but it brings them INCREDIBLE joy to have people drive slowly by their houses and they host a yearly family/friends ‘lighting’ night. The key is storage and organization which they both have. Everything is labeled and repaired at the end of the year. I look at pictures of really bare, ‘minimalist’ houses with envy at times and then look at my well-lived-in, vibrant house and I am happy. Use what you have, have what you use and organize it!

  20. 20
    MemeGRL says

    I thought it was just me, looking at people with tiny houses (I mean, fine and dandy but not McMansion by any means) and thinking–where does this stuff live the rest of the year?!
    I have been winnowing our holiday stuff; we have attic and basement space and no better use for it that I can think of, the decor brings much joy. Most of it spends the year in the “bolier room” with the heater and hot water heater, etc. Some of it (fabric stuff) spends the summer in the attic instead.
    But that decorating the clutter comment? That gets my vote for “comment of the month.” I hear ya, sister!

  21. 21
    Sabrina says

    I totally agree. It is important to go through your stuff on a regular basis. Some things get destroyed from the sun, rain, and even snow and should be trashed or recycled before buying a new one. It will help keep the decorations and the storage space under control as well. “Make a decision, take action” is what I always say to my clients. =)

    • 21.1
      Ellie says

      Thanks, Sabrina. Make a decision, take action is now my slogan for this season of my life.

  22. 22
    Messy Wife says

    Cannot help but add that, when people have the space, they may also *need* a lot more decoration to feel decorated. It may not help with the storage problem much.

    I came from a different culture where Christmas decorations, or any seasonal decorations were rare. After moving here, for the fun of it, we keep a fake tree, ornaments and lights and our kids have enough fun with just those. With a small place, we can easily say we do not have space for more (and keep the cars in the garage) But I think, the cultural factor play big in our case.

    Perhaps, it would be easier to simplify when we look at how little some other culture can live on. At least, that is helping me putting my weak (cluttered) areas in perspective and start purging.

  23. 23
    Food on the Table says

    I immensely enjoy holiday decorations, especially Christmas, but our attic…and garage…and closets downstairs…and closets upstairs feel the burden. Thinking about lack of storage or really just making more decisions (to just say no) about what to keep or buy would help a lot. Do I have room to store this? Do I have room to store this? Thanks, I’ll be chanting to myself in the Gardenridge very soon.

  24. 24
    Camille says

    I stumbled across your blog two days ago thru pinterest, and I’m hooked. I have a 7 week old baby girl, and I’ve been reading your 52 week challenge entries on my phone while I nurse her. I love that you promote breaking everything down into 15 minute tasks. It has been so difficult for me to adjust from college student to sahm with an infant, and keeping everything in order around here! Also, I will admit I have pack rat tendencies….which I don’t like about myself. The task of trying to organize my tiny apartment to look like the beautiful pictures in blog land killed me a little inside…I don’t have the space, time, or money! But here you are, the motivation I needed to get started, and now I’m on an organizing high! In the small chunks of time I have while my daughter is napping, in the past two days, I have organized my medicine cabinet, make up drawer, a book case in my baby’s room, our coat rack, and I have purged my house of all junk mail, back logged magazines, and filed all the papers we needed to keep for records.

  25. 25
    Camille says

    Whoops, I accidentally hit submit to early…in addition to what I have listed, I also organized the top of our dressers, and our headboard’s cupboards. My goals for the next few days are to go through my clothing and begin to purge (I’m not quite back into some of my pre pregnancy clothing, so I can’t decide on everything what should stay or go yet, but I have a lot of clothing still from high school that is looking ratty and is taking up too much space), kitchen cupboards, under my bathroom sink, and creating a command station. Thank you for helping me get started! You are right, breaking things down into smaller tasks does help me feel more capable! I feel like I’m setting myself up for success, and I love it. I already feel so much lighter and less stressed as the chaos around me is settling, and I can visually see things being more orderly, so I can focus more on taking care of my baby, rather thrash running around trying to find things. Thank you thank you thank you!

  26. 26
    Brandy E. says

    I have to say that when it comes to Halloween and Christmas I’m kind of a “go big or go home” kind of person. We have a 12ft inflatable haunted house (courtesy of my mother), an inflatable vampire, and an inflatable stack of pumpkins. On top of that we have lights that look like candy corn, jack o lanterns, and a 3 foot tall plush “frankie” that sits on the front porch becuase my son has had him forever and loves him. Inside we take it easier, but we do have a fairly extensive “spookytown” village set up.
    I tried really hard not to put the inflatables up this year…and in no time there were neighborhood kid asking about them. lol


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