Dead Christmas tree with one glass ornament

Taking down the holiday decorations was a chore that my mom always dreaded. It was so much work to climb on the stool to take down the lights from the windows and the garland from the top of the mantlepiece. She also had to remove all of the fragile glass ornaments from the tree and rewrap them individually for storage. And then the artificial tree had to be taken apart. She tackled all of these tasks in one January afternoon with the TV on for company. By evening, the holiday items were stored and her house was back in order again.

While there is something satisfying about completing this task in a single afternoon, I take a different approach.

I don’t start out with quite as many holiday decorations as Mom did. A few little treasures and natural consumable or compostable items make up most of my holiday décor. I typically disassemble my little arrangements of photos and cards over the course of a few days after the holidays. On the other hand, I keep my fig tree decorated with little red cardinals for most of January — because I just love it.

And those ornaments that I never took out of the box this year? I could donate them so someone else can enjoy them. Or maybe upcycle them into something new.

When I got out my holiday items this year, I noticed that they were dusty and making me sneeze. So when I take down my decorations, I will give them all a cleaning before I put them in a new box and wrap fragile items in fresh newspaper. I don’t need plastic bubble wrap or hard-to-recycle foam; newspaper protects my delicate decorations just fine.

Then all that remains is to recycle the old cardboard box and paper.

So, with very little stress, I’ll have finished taking down the decorations and will be ready for my fresh sustainable start in the new year. Happy New Year!

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.