The holidays are over. Cousins, grandparents, and long-lost friends have gone back home, and the only disturber of your peace is that talking stuffed animal a well-meaning Auntie gave your little one- or the string of lights in every window- maybe it’s that cranberry sauce stain on the rug by the couch? It may actually be the thought of putting up all the knick-knacks you had to take down to put up your holiday decorations… Hmmm, maybe it’s the dusty film gathering on your window coverings that were neglected in favor of mountains of dishes?
Before you retreat to your bedroom to hide from the aftermath, take a day or two to face it. With five simple, no-fuss resolutions, you can have your home back in working order, leaving you free to veg out without looking guiltily at the Christmas tree in the corner every five minutes.
- Don’t let holiday decorations stick around until Valentine’s Day.
Nothing wears you down quite as much as thinking about putting away your decorations- so do it fast. Thinking about it is more tiring than doing it, especially if you get organized. Sort things- garland in this box, ornaments in the next, lights in the next, etc. Get out the label-maker (or a thick black permanent marker if you don’t have one) so you can find things easily next year, and your storage space will be just a little friendlier throughout the year. Take the opportunity to pitch holiday décor you haven’t used in a few years. And please take out that tree! It’s the perfect home for bugs looking for a warm winter refuge. Bonus- your house will automatically feel better with no pine needles on the floor, and the embarrassing spectacle of a brown tree on the curb in the spring need not be yours this year.
2. Start off the New Year with a New Look.
Garlands, cute little deer, and ceramic holiday villages take up lots of space. Once they’re gone and you have space again for your normal knick-knacks, consider this: you can redecorate a room without purchasing new things. Try rearranging them instead. Moving your furniture can make a room feel new again, and forces you to move pictures, vases, and other little treasures. Sometimes, putting something in a different space will make it seem new again. Bonus- now is the perfect time to zip-tie all the cables for your electronics into neat bundles for easier cleaning behind your furniture.
3. Update playrooms and toy storage.
This may take some “strategery”- even though your children’s rooms are full of new toys and they never play with the old ones, kids want to hold on to toys forever. Send them outside to play and go in for the casualties- toss toys that are broken or missing most of their pieces. Also gather toys that never got much love and donate them to reputable charities. This doesn’t have to be a hassle- try visiting www.donationtown.org for local charities. Most areas even have free pickup services! Bonus- if you have older children, you can include them in the process, and use the chore of creating space for new toys as an opportunity to talk about giving to those in need.
Once you have tidied up the toy collections, try using cube furniture with bins to store the keepers. The bins may not be organized, but clearing the floor at the end of the day will be quick and stress free- and easy for the kids to do.
4. Touch up damage to floors and upholstery.
For a quick way to freshen any room, tackle your floors. Most stains can be removed without shampooing. Mix 2 tablespoons of liquid hand dishwashing detergent with two cups of cool water and blot at the stain- first to loosen the stain and then to lift it. Have a tricky stain? Check out the Good Housekeeping website for tips that don’t require a chemical arsenal to master. Bonus: by taking care of the worst spots now, you can save the heavy duty chemical deep-clean for springtime, when you can open up the windows and breathe fresh air.
5. Clean dingy window coverings.
Windows are the best source of light in a room, and the first thing your eye goes to. Bring new life to a room by cleaning the window coverings. Most can be cleaned with a duster or a damp wash rag, and some can even be cleaned by submerging them in warm water in the bathtub (always check with the manufacturer first!). Have some cellular shades that have been getting dusty on the inside? Have them professionally cleaned- right in your home! This is a great option since the shades don’t have to be taken down, and the deep-cleaning will bring the color of your shade back to life. Bonus: even if you haven’t had the heart to go out in the cold to clean them, your windows will look brighter behind freshly cleaned shades.