The gifts were unveiled, the ball dropped, and now the guests have gone. You want to sit back and relax but you may not be able to if you are surrounded by holiday detritus. Here are a few tips for efficiently storing your holiday décor, quickly cleaning up any stains you didn’t notice, and just freshening the house up a bit so you can finally enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet.
First things first, if you have a holiday tree and you aren’t leaving it up til Valentine’s Day (Dad), you will want to get that out of the way. If you use a live tree you can wrap it in specialty bags now available for that purpose or use a tarp & a couple bungee cords to haul it to the curb. That is assuming your municipality offers tree pick up service, which many do for a few weeks following the winter holidays. Just check any maximum size guidelines in case you need to (literally) trim the tree.
If your area does not provide this service, you may be able to find a Boy Scout troop (or similar organization) that collects trees – either free of charge or for a small donation. You can also call your local recycling center as some will take trees to make mulch. A few larger home improvement stores do as well, sometimes with no fee.
If you have a pond or other large natural water source on your property you may consider sinking the tree, which often becomes a shelter for fish. You can also repurpose the tree yourself, as mulch, or use the trunk for a number of home décor projects.
If you still have pine needles on your floor after moving the tree out, it’s a good idea to use a broom and dustpan and even a large lint roller to pick up as much as possible before vacuuming to help prevent clogging of hoses and filters. Lint rollers can also be good for picking up small bits of broken glass from ornaments.
Artificial trees can be tamed back into boxes using belts in various sizes for the different sections to cinch and hold the branches, once folded down. You can then use the original box to store it in if you still have it, a cardboard appliance box, or a specialized, oversized storage container with lid, often made solely for this purpose.
Once the tree is gone you can tackle the ornaments you took off it (or do this as you remove them from the tree). String lights can be secured to one end of a hanger with tape, zip ties or Velcro cable ties, then wound around the hanger from top to bottom and secured on the other end using one of the aforementioned methods.
There are tons of products made now to store every type of decoration possible, but if you do not want to invest in a basement full of storage bins you can often find items you already have in the home and repurpose them to hold your holiday décor. Empty, cardboard beer/beverage cartons can be used to store medium sized tree and mantle ornaments. Egg cartons are the perfect size for your miniatures and are also shaped perfectly for holding mini glass balls! Non-fragile ornaments can be stored in family stockings and placed in all those empty gift bags you probably have lying around. Fold the tops of the bags over and secure with a binder clip to help keep dust out. Ribbon and beads can be secured with tape to your winter pillar candles and wound around them. Then secure at the other end the same way. Depending on shape and size, these can also be kept in stockings or gift bags and then closed up to keep them all free of dust and odors that can accumulate over the course of the year. Finally, dry-cleaning hangers are the perfect home for wreaths. Just hang the top over the hook, cover with the plastic bag, knot the bag at the bottom, and hang from a rod or hook in your closet, basement or attic.
Once the decorations are removed and everything is back in its place, you may notice stains on upholstery or carpets that were hidden by all the “stuff”. You can use commercial products on these, or as a more natural alternative, you can mix one-quarter cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of good dish soap such as Dawn and several tablespoons of warm water. Test this for color-safety on a small, unnoticeable section first. You want to dab the stain (not scrub, which apparently can cause it to seep/spread) with a clean, lint free cloth, let it sit for 15-30 mins, then remove by blotting with a damp, white cloth. This method works on upholstery too.
If carpet/upholstery odors are driving you mad, try skipping the commercial product aisles and make your own! This can also be a fun project to do with the kids while they are home from school during winter break. Get a mason jar with metal lid, puncture holes in the lid (can use a nail/screw that you drive in and remove, among other methods), then combine one and a half cups of baking soda with 16 drops of your favorite essential oils. This can be fun for kids because they like choosing scents for their own rooms. (Also, you can make cool labels for the jars when you’re done!).
Now, we know you probably did a ton of cooking over the past 6-8 weeks, which also means a ton of dishes. If your dishwasher is starting to smell a little offensive or your dishes don’t seem to be getting quite as clean, try this hack for cleaning it up:
1. Make a paste by combining equal (or near equal) parts baking soda & white vinegar. Dip a small scrub brush or old toothbrush in the paste and gently scrub the little nooks and crannies like the rubber seal around the door, the tiny vent holes in the detergent cup cover, the holes in the spray arm, and especially around the bottom drain cover (you may need a glass and bottle cleaning brush to really get in there and pull out any clumps of old food). Then put a shallow, heat safe bowl full of vinegar in the bottom rack, and run it (otherwise empty) using hot water and heated dry. Wipe dry with a microfiber towel if any dampness remains.
2. For that overworked garbage disposal pour half a cup of baking soda down there, followed by half a cup of apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then use a scrub brush dipped in the solution to clean any rubber sealant rings around the opening. Finish by running warm water to rinse, then run the disposal to clear.
Finally, if you happen to notice any unfortunate stains, scuffs or scratches on your painted walls (and we know how disheartening that can be), use this handy guide to find the perfect technique and solution for most any issue – just remember to test an inconspicuous area first!
To touch up your interior wall (or ceiling) paint after cleaning a stain off, or if it has become scratched from children or tree branches, the best solution for doing so quickly and with the least noticeable difference is to make sure you have the same wall or ceiling paint color, brand, sheen, etc. on hand (leftovers from the paint job are perfect because even though they have not been exposed to the environment the way paint on surfaces has been, at least the paint in the can is still the same age as the paint on the walls as they were mixed and purchased at the same time). Then use a cotton ball and dab a light layer over the mark. Do not use a brush/roller and do not lay it on too thick or you will be able to see the difference from the original paint job. If the damage is such that the entire wall or ceiling needs to be painted, feel free to email for any tips or questions, or give us a call if you don’t have the time or interest in doing the project yourself.
Happy New Year from “The Taylor Crew”!
& Best wishes for a happy, healthy & prosperous 2019!!
~ Tim, Richelle, Kevin & Devon