Need some time to yourself?

Let’s face it, the holidays are hectic. Now that the gifts have been unwrapped and the last glass of champagne toasted, you may find yourself in need of some alone time. A quiet house.

Sound like a pipe dream?

I can give you five simple words to guarantee an empty house. No, seriously, it works. Now, take a deep breath and repeat after me.

“I‘m taking down the tree.”

Like magic, the kids remember places they need to be, my husband must run errands or help a friend. Poof! Just like that, I am alone in the house. Even the dogs seem to find a place to hide.

“Just wait a minute!”, you say. “Now I have to take down the tree.”

Yes, but you do it your own way. And the faster it’s finished, the more time you have for —nothing!

First, get out the totes, boxes or whatever you keep the decorations in. Line them up, lids off. You’ll need bubble wrap for the fragile items. Let’s start with those. Line the bottom of one tote with bubble wrap, then take each individual fragile item — houses, special ornaments, etc. — wrap and place in the tote, heavy items on the bottom. If you have the individual boxes for items, store them in those then put them in the tote.

My husband buys me a new ornament every year for Christmas. He has since our first Christmas together. I keep these on an artificial tree. To store it, I leave the tree decorated, wrap the entire thing in bubble wrap then put it in a moving box large enough to accommodate it. I purchased two large boxes from U-Haul, place the tree in one, top it with another, secure it in packing tape and store it. 30+ ornaments safely secured and stored with the bonus of simply removing the box next year for instant decoration.

Next, the non-fragile items. I use a separate tote for these. Stocking hangers get stored in the stocking, then the tote.

Finally, the live tree. The star comes down and is stored with the fragile items. The remaining ornaments are ordinary round, colored bulbs. These I store in a five-gallon bucket. Yep, a bucket. Now keep in mind that I won’t cry if a few get broken from one year to the next but it rarely happens. For the lights I grab the end of a strand and pull. Let’s face it, there’s going to be pine needles on the floor anyway so if it rains a few more while taking down the lights, so what? I roll the light strands around a spool or a square of wood with a notch on each end. When the tree is empty, I drag it upright, outside through the sliding door. It’s larger than a standard door. If I’m really lucky, I get it to the door without spilling the water from the stand. Once outside, I tip it on its side to drain the water and remove the stand. Now to sweep up. I have tile floors so clean-up is a little easier, but a broom works on carpet for the first go round.

Now the final walk-through. No matter how hard I look there is always something that I’ll find in a few days. Put the lids on the totes, mark “fragile”, “Indoor”, “Christmas Villiage”, etc and the year. Next season, you know what is where for easy decorating.

It seems like a lot but taking down the decorations simply, starts with putting them up simply. I try to keep things at a lower level and only decorate the main living areas. On a good day, I can take the decorations down in an hour or two. And since I’m me, I clean while I do it. The rest of the day is mine and either way, the decorations are down, and the house is clean. And if there happens to be some leftover wine, well, I may as well make the clean-up complete.  😉

Remember, the decorations may need to get to put away, but the spirit of Christmas can live every day of the year. Smile, it’s free after all, think of at least one positive thing at the end of each day and be kind – to yourself and to others. Now, put your feet up, grab a good book and enjoy a little of the quiet time.