marie kondo

Putting Away the Holidays

Simplifying the putting up and taking down of holiday decorations can feel like an arduous task - sometimes so much so that people dread the process instead of enjoying it as part of the seasonal celebration it is. We recommend putting on a Bing Crosby Holiday Album, cracking open a bottle of egg nog and really getting into the spirit, BUT that kind of lightheartedness is only accessed when we simplify our responsibilities and get to the heart of what truly makes us feel happy and celebratory.

For us, it’s two fold:

O N E

Make sure to pare down your decorations to what you truly love (yes, as Marie Kondo would say “spark joy”). Impact can be made with less, if it has the impact and presence that speaks to you.

T W O

Have a system for putting things away that makes it easy on both ends of the project - wrap up cords neatly and store them together with the extension cords you use, put everything that goes with/on the tree together, etc.

This is all completely logical, we get that. But it’s surprising how often in the stress of everything going on pre & post holiday that we all just shove things out of sight wherever, which is NOT doing our future self any favors and we are likely to damage and lose decorations in the process.

Here are a few photos of our simple, Scandinavian-inspired Christmas decor. The garlands inside are faux (but we think it looks pretty real!) for the sake of re-use and lack of stray pine needles, but the tree is a real Nordic Spruce, chopped down locally. Keep in mind - this is what works for US, in OUR SPACE.

I can’t emphasize enough how much longevity I’ve found with my neutral decorations that have worked in a variety of settings, and as my tastes evolve. Having quality items means they'll stand the test of time and having items that tend toward the classic/simple rather than trend forward means they’ll always work effortlessly together or with any new pieces I bring in. I love having touches of the holidays around the entire house, so including garland in the bathroom and hanging snowflakes in all of the windows allows the joy to be spread without it ever feeling overwhelming or hard to maintain.

During the off season, I have a small shelving unit in the basement dedicated to holiday storage and employ four of these IKEA boxes in white to keep the decor organized.

  • B O X 1 / Everything displayed on the mantel, minus the faux garland - but including battery powered lights.

  • B O X 2 / Ornaments, stockings, Nutcrackers that are displayed in the kitchen, faux mistletoe

  • B O X 3 / Large wooden snowflakes that hang in windows, wooden village we display on our shelves

  • B O X 4 / Indoor & Outdoor Lights wrapped neatly into tight coils, as well as extension cords and timers.

  • We leave our faux garlands and wreath out of the boxes to insure they don’t become damaged, as well as our holiday door mat - and Ta daaaaa! The holiday decor has been successfully (and safely) put to bed until next December.

Here’s to a fresh new start — and a reminder to be kind to your future self.

Where to begin Organizing when you're overwhelmed

One of the main reasons we hear for why people find it hard to declutter their house is that they just don’t know where to begin! It can definitely seem like an overwhelming chore (for those of you who don’t LOVE organizing as much as Mackenzie and I). Here are 8 tips for figuring out where to start your organizing project.

  1. Think about your organizational end goal

If we’re at the point of exasperation with the state of your whole house, it can be hard to parse out what is MOST frustrating to you. You know you’re stressed out about the mess, but try to think about the WHY behind it. Is your messy bedroom causing tension between you and your spouse? Do you wish you could have nice, relaxing dinners at home, but your dining table is constantly covered in stuff? Have you been putting off inviting people over because your living room is a disaster zone? Honing in on what you want will help you discover the most important place to focus your energy first.

    2. Start with a room that will have the most impact

Many times it is necessary to start by cleaning up the basement/attic/garage/storage area. If you find that you will be relocating many items from the house to that area, it makes sense that you create places to put these things. If this is not your situation, however, you should begin with the space you use most frequently. If you choose a space that you use every day, you can really appreciate the change, and will be more excited to fix up other areas of the house.

   3. Start small

Oftentimes we get overwhelmed because we set our goal too high. You don’t need to organize your entire kitchen in one day. Start by organizing the fridge or pantry. Or even just one drawer. You want to get to that feeling of accomplishment, not hopelessness.

   4. Don’t start by buying more stuff

We’ve all done it... substituted buying things for actually taking action (“I’m totally going to start writing every day… once I have this new leather journal”). We go out and buy a bunch of new storage containers and feel good for having progressed towards our goal, but then a month later the house is still messy and the containers have gone into the garage, unused. Sure, there are times when you just don’t have the right items for the job, but take some time to assess the situation first. Once you dive in, you may find that you are getting rid of a lot of things, or maybe you want to put them in another room entirely. And in many cases, people have storage items already lying around, or have things they can repurpose. Get a sense of what you really need before you drop a ton of money on something you may not need after all.

  5. Make it enjoyable

You may hate organizing, but you can at least make it less terrible! Put on some music or a podcast. Invite your type-A friend over to help (it will make their day, trust me). Give yourself breaks. There’s no need to be a martyr about it!

  8. Make it easier to focus

Set yourself up for success. Make sure you don’t have people (or your phone) around distracting you when you start the process. If you are organizing part of a room, and you keep eyeing other areas, you can even cover up the parts you aren’t working on with a sheet or a room divider.

  7. Give yourself a reward at the end

Sweeten the deal a little bit. Maybe you can watch your favorite show once you’ve tidied up a bit, or you can go out for a special treat. Better yet, have someone else reward you (so you’re not tempted cheat!)

  8. Go easy on yourself

Remember that having a messy or cluttered house is not a character flaw, it’s just a problem to be solved. And you don’t have to turn your house around overnight. Whether you schedule in weekly organizing sessions, or get to it occasionally when you have the time, be proud of yourself for working towards your goal!

Happy Organizing!