Working Through the Mess – After Holiday Cleanup

Today is January 3rd. I wrote this post on December 26th. On December 26th, I was so proud of myself for just picking up, and had full faith that I’d do the “real” after Christmas cleanup precisely on time: January 1st.

Ummmm, I didn’t. New Year’s Day and the day after came and went, and my tree is still up. Oops.

And I didn’t even get this post up in the week after Christmas (when it would have made me look good). So I was tempted to not share it at all. But it’s written. And the steps still apply to any room that overwhelms me when I realize I need to clean it up.


I won’t do the math and figure out how many years I didn’t bother cleaning up our Christmas mess right away. So many times, I looked at the volume of new mess added to old mess and felt paralyzed. That paralysis made me procrastinate, and we ended up with a disaster to dig our way out of in January.

So I was proud of myself for dealing with the mess on December 26th this year! (If these pictures make you assume I don’t understand real mess, check out some of the before and after photos here. I promise, I understand.)

I’ve shared my steps for working through overwhelming mess before.

Here they are in action this last week:


1. I took a deep breath and grabbed a trash bag. I went through the room, picking up trash. Wrapping paper, empty packaging, paper plates.


Less overwhelming now! Removing trash first makes such a difference visually. 

Seeing a visible difference spurs me to keep going.

2. Do the easy stuff. Take things where they go right now.


I didn’t moan or groan (much), but just started answering the question: Where would I look for this first?

And then I took it there.

The “take it there right now” game-changing decluttering strategy doesn’t mean each little item has to be a separate trip. As I pick up something, I take it where it goes immediately. But, to save time and sanity, I look for other things to take where I’m going anyway.



3. I kept on with the easy stuff, consolidating boxes and gift bags and stockings. I also dealt with the procrasticlutter over there on that recliner. That’s laundry that didn’t get folded straight out of the dryer because someone other than me was doing the laundry.

While there was most definitely a part of me that wanted to stomp my foot and whine at the reappearance of a problem I’d finally solved after years of laundry struggles, I chose to be thankful for the person who did the laundry. The person who wasn’t me.


Yay! So much better. So not perfect, but so much better.

How is your after-holiday cleanup going? 


P.S. We’ll take down the Christmas decorations on New Year’s Day soon. Hopefully.

P.P.S. Yep. I also saw that my teenager was sitting in that next room playing his new video game while I worked. I was in the zone, completely out of routine during that odd week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and the other kids were gone so it didn’t occur to me to do this as a family pick-up time. Oops!

P.P.P.S. Don’t buy fake leather recliners. Fake leather peels. And looks bad. And has to be covered by a throw blanket to look decent. But throw blankets get carried to the next room on cold days, and then slob-blogger-moms forget to put them back before taking pictures.





  1. 1

    Trees should stay up until 1/6 because “the Twelve Days of Christmas” starts 12/25

    • 2

      I’ve never met you, and I love you.

    • 3

      I agree 100%! I have no excuse for leaving it up until mid-February though (like I did in 2011!)

    • 4
      Brandy E. says:

      I keep mine up until 1/6 every year. I don’t really care that much, but my son insists. Since its his birthday as well I choose not to fight it.

    • 6

      Yes! I’m glad I am not the only one celebrating all twelve days before taking decorations down.

    • 7

      In Spain we do so. On the night of Jan 5th the three wise men visit our houses bringing presents for the children, so our decorations stay until Jan 6th.
      This year, as it was Friday, we had them until Jan 8th. That’s a win-win for me, one year we had it up until almost February.
      You can always say that you’re celebrating Spanish Christmas 🙂

  2. 8

    Got my stuff carried out today…..although in my defense, we left town the 26th and I have been sick ever since. Contrary to my defense, I have a bunch of boxes stashed in the office to be dealt with when I work my way back there….does it count that no one sees it but me?

  3. 9

    1) your room looks great
    2) there are 12 days of Christmas and it doesn’t end until Jan 6, so you’ve got a few days to go. Makes no sense to start clearing all the decor and stuff while you are still celebrating the holiday. Do it this weekend.

  4. 11

    Christmas decorations start being put away today. I never do it until after New Years and after everyone goes back to work/school. The tree will come down this weekend. It always looks so dreary right after I put everything away, so I try to leave it up for the 1st week of January to get full Christmas out of it.

  5. 12

    My Christmas tree is still up because my husband ordered a tree bag and it hasn’t arrived yet. Thankfully that’s the only Christmas decoration because with an active toddler I chose to be a minimalist this year.

  6. 13

    I like having holidays put away by New Years. I like to start the New Year fresh. But really, I don’t want any of it still up on my birthday which is January 3.

  7. 14

    I have to be honest with you: my sons and I love, love, love our Christmas tree each year! It generally doesn’t get thrown out until sometime in February. (Yes, we are careful to keep it watered so it’s not a fire hazard.) We don’t view it as clutter at all, but as a lovely decoration to be admired and loved as long as possible. But that’s us. However, having said that, I do have a living room full of Christmas decoration boxes. My intent is to go through them again (I did this last year for the first time ever) and see what else I might be willing to weed out this year. But December 26th? No way. That’s just too soon. We all like to enjoy Christmas well into January—at least.

  8. 15
    Suzanne Seward says:

    Love your post, with pictures! I am reading this on the 4th so I am a day behind. Our tree is down, an artificial 3 1/2 foot that sits on my Mothers Tea Cart. Hubby wanted to put it away so I had it ready for him on the 1st. I removed all the ornaments and put them on the dinning table. Tree and table are close to each other. I have gathered up the decorations in the living room and entry … and added them to the dinning table. And guess what?! They are still there! This post reminded me that I need to get out there and pack the decoration up. The funny part is that the box they go in, is still sitting on a chair in the dinning room! So actually my work is nearly done! I am so laughing at myself right now. My husband and I are older people (80 and 74), I’m the younger one, and sometimes we are slow to get a job done. He has done is part, now I will go and do my part. Happy New Year Dana. I am enjoying your daily inspirational posts and even purchased the audio for my iPad Mini (already have the book) and listen to you while I pick up and put away.
    P.S. I will take a before and after picture of dinning table but not sure where to post it 🙂

  9. 16

    Hey Dana! Was just watching a youtuber I follow and she mentioned your book in her “december favorites” video. Her channel is makeupTIA. A lot of people are commenting they are going to check out your book!! 🙂

  10. 18

    I keep my tree up until I get tired of looking at it. It makes me happy. A few years back, I remember taking it down on President’s Day when the kids were home from school. By then I was ready and it came down and was put away seamlessly:) You know the saying, “If mama isn’t happy then nobody is happy”? My Christmas decorations make mama very happy.
    I have made great strides toward decluttering thanks to the container concept!! I also just downloaded the book on my Kindle. Can’t wait to start reading it while still enjoying my tree!!

  11. 19

    Dana, my tree is still being “decorated” by PP! Yesterday was her dentist appt, so she couldn’t eat, or drink anything. So we did snowmen ornaments, (kit for 4- $1, 70% off- 30 cents!!), and of course had to hang them on the tree! She loves it, I love it! It’s my house, who cares what everybody else does??
    Ordered your book, and 3/4 of the way done. So, went ahead and posted a review. LOVE IT!!
    Gonna blog about it too, since I love you!

  12. 20

    We just throw out our fake leather sofa and our family of 6 is sharing a love seat and rocking chair because I couldn’t take the fake leather pieces all over my house… and my 5 year old was EATING IT!!! 2017 is saving for a new couch year. LOL.

  13. 21

    I love you!! 🙂
    You are so REAL, and so encouraging!

  14. 22

    My fake leather recliner is not peeling but does have a weird splotchy fading on the seat cushion. I just call it “character” 🙂

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