Raise your hand if any of this sounds familiar:
- You’ve put out your holiday decor, but in the meantime, you have to figure out what to do with all the “regular” stuff that took its place. Or, perhaps there are still a few decor items you haven’t put out yet, and they’re just sort of hanging around in bins waiting to be employed.
- The wrapping paper and tape and tags have been purchased, but you haven’t started wrapping anything yet. And when you do get around to it, you are pretty sure it won’t get done all at once. Or in one place.
- You’ve got a few craft projects in varying stages of completion dotting the scene; glitter and glue and paint and cotton balls scattered around several surfaces. (Maybe your kids assembled a gingerbread house but you have no idea what to do with it. Pro tip: you never really will.)
- And all the while, packages keep piling up at the door.
If you don’t happen to live in a huge house with a dedicated Christmas Staging Suite, your living space is probably looking pretty cluttered right about now.
And even if you have plenty of room, it’s amazing how all this stuff can infiltrate multiple areas of the house. I moved from a tiny 1200-square foot home to a sprawling house about three time that size in the past year – with the same number of kids and decorations – so you’d think I’d be patting myself on the back due to the relative tidiness this year. But instead, it just feels like the clutter is more spread out, which doesn’t make it any easier to keep under control.
No matter how often I pick up and how much I move things around, we’re just sort of stuck in this in-between place I think of as “Emerging Christmas.” (Which, after December, will be followed by “Vanishing Christmas”).
Here are four things I’m trying to do to feel a little better about what’s currently happening in my entryway. (And on my counters. And my kitchen island. And the dining-room table…)
Remind myself that “Emerging Christmas” is a legitimate phase of the holiday – okay, it’s basically the entire holiday – and it does not allow for a perfectly tidy space.
For every pristine Christmas tree photo you see on the Internet, remember that seconds beforehand, a mom was shoving bins and boxes out of sight. All that stuff is still there, just outside the frame. Let’s not hold ourselves to an impossible standard; pulling off this much magic is hard enough without also trying to erase all the evidence.
Think in terms of consolidating and grouping, rather than cleaning.
Unless I want to be constantly running up and down the basement stairs or freezing as I dig through bins in the garage, having some “stuff” around is just part of the holiday experience. But I can make things a bit easier on myself by putting like with like: for example, any decorations that haven’t been used yet can go into one bin that stays in the main living area, while empty ornament packaging, bubble wrap and other things that aren’t going to be useful again until we pack everything away will get stored together and can go back into the basement until after the New Year.
Create staging areas for different holiday activities like baking, decorating, gift-wrapping, and crafting.
Grouping items that work together functionally reduces how much time I find myself wandering around asking if anyone has seen the ribbon or ornament hooks, and it just looks better and more intentional, too. Some years, when I’m feeling particularly motivated, I try to artfully arrange each station so it almost looks like decor. Other years, I just put all the glitter and glue in a box and shove it into a drawer in the corner. (That would be this year.)
Remember that evidence of holiday merriment isn’t clutter…
…it’s life, happening right before our eyes.
With a mix of a little proactive organizing and a lot of giving myself a break, I’m putting my focus on the fun all those piles and bins and boxes help create, instead of fixating on the wrapping paper tubes leaning against the wall or the ornament bins scooted up between the sofa and chair.
Soon enough, they’ll all be gone again, back in the hidden-away places they inhabit 11 months of the year. For now, all those ingredients for a festive holiday are making themselves known: not just the photo-op-ready finished product, but the “stuff” it takes to get us there.
And that’s worth celebrating too, don’t you think?
PS – A couple of weeks ago Sarah shared the mess-behind-the-magic in her house. If you missed it, here’s just a snippet of the typical Christmas-in-progress scene you don’t always get to see…