Post-Christmas Clean Up: Getting the house back into shape!

I adore Christmas but hate how messy the house gets with all the new stuff floating around.

My mother used to let us keep our little treasure piles under the tree for 24 to 48 hours before eventually moving it to our rooms or the appropriate location. But Michael is ready for an initial clean up by Christmas afternoon.

Wrapping paper is put into recycled shopping bags as they open presents (the giant Toys ‘R’ Us bags are good for this).  By afternoon boxes were put in the recycling bin and by nightfall marching orders were given for everything to be taken to their rooms.

I might let the piles of gifts stay a little bit longer under the tree but the clutter was definitely (and still is on table tops) making me crazy. (Legos are all over my dining table as are tiny latex Princess outfits for Polly Pocket-size dolls. Better there than on the floor I guess.)

Getting the new stuff always makes me want to clean out the old stuff. I feel a need to clean out toys not being played with and donate them. I really should think ahead and make them clean out before Christmas but I never do. I always feel too busy to tackle this on the front end.

I would like to say that today we are going to clean out the playroom and all the toy baskets in the family room, which is filled with truly mostly junk. However I am also feeling a post-Christmas slump where I just want to sit there and read a book or watch new DVDs. (Michael got me the first season of “Glee” – seven discs to watch! Plus got from the library a new detective book – “The Sherlockian.”)

How long do you let the toys and new stuff stay under the tree and spread out around the family room? At what point does it have to be transferred upstairs? How do you deal with the after clutter? Do you clean out old toys before or after Christmas day?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania blog

42 comments Add your comment

FCM. on my cell

December 27th, 2010
5:54 am

I do a playroom clean/toss @ thanksgiving. It makes room for nrw before new arrives.

Kids had everything in correct rooms by lunch Christmas day. Rooms got cleanrd befote bed…took 10 min each night to keep bedrooms cleaned. If you stsy on it things wont overwhelm.


December 27th, 2010
6:42 am

We deep clean and get rid of things before Christmas so it is much easier to put things away after! It is now practically “tradition” :) “Come on guy’s, time to clean out and make room!” When my boys were younger I’d let the mess stay on the main level until the day after Christmas but now they move most things to their own rooms right away. The trash (boxes, paper, bows etc) is cleaned up and removed within an hour of opening gifts.


December 27th, 2010
7:12 am

My dad was known for throwing boxes and paper in the fireplace after all the gifts were opened. I can still hear the “Boof” as they all went up in flames. We don’t do that any more after he burned up the Christmas stocking accidentally!


December 27th, 2010
7:17 am

we always cleaned older toys before and donated to places for abused kids or homeless shelters that had kids….as for the day of…mess mess mess.,…at some point that day stuff had to be taken to their room…tree came down new years eve. as the kids grew and got married we (the younger 2 and i) would go to families in atlanta and stay..had to realy keep up with stuff better then to make sure nothing got left. our christmas was so scttered this year because of the snow. i didnt even see my daughter…ive been at my friends house who lives 8 miles from work and we still couldnt get there….8 inches of snow here…im gonna try again today to get there…found out that because school wasnt closed-if someone called in the day after christmas we wont get our holiday pay. makes a lot of sense…there was no school to be called closed!! how can they rationalize that i wonder. im really hoping that was wrong, but it was told to someone by a manager. im really hoping she was wrong. everytime it snows people wreck trying to get to and from work…its just wrong. i refuse. if i lose my job i will need my car…hello?????

hope everyone had a great friend and i had a nice dinner and watched movies…talked to our kids via phone and internet. my daughter was a little depressed that we werent together. but she understood of course…it was bad tho that we stayed at different places down off the mountain so we could both get to work and neither of us could make it anyway. hoping to make it this morning… snowed more last night…wish me luck!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJCMOMania. AJCMOMania said: Post-Christmas Clean Up: Getting the house back into shape! [...]


December 27th, 2010
7:48 am

Since I lived with an OCD Mother, I do not worry about these things. That was not meant to be a joke.

I took 6-8 large black BAGS of stuff to be donated BEFORE Christmas, so we could make room for things here.

We use a lot of gift bags to wrap and I recycle them, so they are all stacked into one or two large gift bags and put away. We have a closet under the stairs in our basement where all wrapping paper, tissue, bows etc. are stored. It is about the size of 2 bathtubs. We do have lots of trash that will have to go to the curb tomorrow,

My gifts are still under the tree…others are scattered , in piles, around the family room, for now. I do not care. My sisters and I were yanked out of bed ( sound asleep) to put a dish in the dishwasher, that we missed and so we are determined not to worry about it in our lives. We are neat but we do not let it consume us, as our mother did.

I remember a friend of my Mom trying to defend us in her presence as she screamed at us, “_____ does it REALLY matter if they did not wipe the table to perfection?” I do not want my kids to have the memories we have, as adults from an OCD Mother. Things will get done today or tomorrow and we had time time to relax over the weekend, played games and ate the food we cooked on Friday….it lasted all weekend. My sister asked me if she was welcome to stay until today and I said sure!

I won’t be watching any movies but I got 3 new books…yippee!

I do get a kick out of the stories my daughter tells me. I am not nearly the neat freak my mother was but I guess some college kids today are pigs. My daughter tells me things about girls in her dorms. Of course, I do remember one Mom ( at a college orientation) asking if there were housekeepers for the dormrooms and bathrooms. I laughed out loud and my daughter shot me a look.


December 27th, 2010
7:59 am

When my kids were little, we lived next to some dear neighbors who were in their early 60’s. Their grandsons stayed with them one week. I met the husband in the front yard one morning and he looked TERRIBLE, I asked him if he was o.k.? He replied, “Oh I had a rough night…I went into the kitchen to get a drink of water and stepped barefoot on a Lego…OUCH…no more sleep!” I laughed and told him that a high heeled Barbie shoe has a similar affect!


December 27th, 2010
8:01 am

should that be EFFECT?


December 27th, 2010
8:10 am

effect i think lol….those are the most confusing 2 words to me…hope your day was wonderful!


December 27th, 2010
8:26 am

We always have a big trash bag ready when unwrapping presents so the girls can clean up as they go along. After every present is opened, they take their new stuff upstairs and put it where it belongs. They will be sorting through their clothes and toys this week for the Goodwill & Vietnam Veterans of America run. We are getting rid of our living room furniture as well, so should be a full trailer load this year!


December 27th, 2010
8:34 am

We took down the tree yesterday and put all toys/gifts in the appropriate rooms. Paper/boxes are in the recycle bin. We are not packrats so we go through our stuff throughout the year, constantly taking stuff to Goodwill & the consignment store. It’s the only way we’ve figured out how to keep the clutter from overtaking our house.

Having the tree out of the way is so nice. The needles were making me crazy.


December 27th, 2010
8:45 am

i really want a ‘like’ button on here lol…theresa can you do that?


December 27th, 2010
8:52 am

Didn’t “do Christmas” here this year. A 12 inch high “tree” from my older daughter’s college life stood guard over the presents till I went to her house Christmas eve day. Met the younger daughter and hubby there, went out to eat, and opened presents. Played with the grands–that was the best. Oh, the things I understand now about my own parents!

I hear the other grandson (in Asheville) noticed his parents’ quick pickup of wrapping paper and started pulling one strip of paper off the presents at a time, then taking the strip over to the trashbag. Needless to say, it lengthened their gift exchange quite a lot!

Came home to a quiet house–beat the snow by 12 hours or so–but I have left the stockings up. I do love looking at them Next year I will have to find room for one more (new grandson due)!

At home growing up the tree stayed up till January 1, with many of the presents tastefully displayed under it. I did that, too, when the children were little. The last 10 years or so I haven’t been able to wait to get the tree down and out, usually on Christmas day. I have a spot I take the tree to on the edge of the woods, and have got a lovely place for birds and critters to hang out (come to think of it, I bet the skunks and possems love it there, too, but I don’t love them!

The snow is still deep (we got about 7 inches, deidre) and so I can’t get out to go to the dump or the store. Luckily the power has stayed on–so far–so that is one good thing. This snow has been a very pretty one, but I am pulling for the sun to come out and shine very brightly.

deidre, hope things get better very quickly. I know you can’t wait to get to that job! LOL Perhaps you can have a belated celebration with your daughter. Best wishes to you, and know that your “blog friends” are thinking of you


December 27th, 2010
8:53 am

Oh gosh, I can’t stand the mess. I had to go back to work today, otherwise the tree would be coming down! I was just to tuckered out to do it yesterday. The piles of toys did get put away, the boxes and trash are piled by the door to be taken out this morning. But I’m so sick of looking at that darn tree. I have to rearrange the furniture in my living room to accommodate it, so I’m ready for things to be back to normal. Now I’m struggling with one of my son’s gifts. He plays piano so we have a keyboard up against the wall in the living room. But for Christmas he got a new music stand and a foot pedal for it, so now he needs more room. GRRR. I may have to put it in the corner where the tree was, which means, my furniture can’t be put back the way it was. Don’t know how I’ll stand it!!


December 27th, 2010
9:02 am

thanks catlady…my car is once again heating up and in a few minutes i will try to make it up the hill. the man who usually scrapes this cul de sac has a broken no plowing here. we got 4 or more inches over night. must have ice is the only reason i can think my 4 wheel drive wont make it. ill just try later if i cant go now…the sun is shining some but its still snowing…i guess we got about 9-10 inches here total…up at my house there is 12-16 inches i hear. wont be going home till wednesday night….thank god for my friend here…altho i could have stayed home since the storm hit here almost as bad as at home.
i appreciate all my mommania friends…some days yall save my life lol…


December 27th, 2010
9:23 am

We allow the toys to hang around in the living room till the next day. Then they must be moved. The paper goes in the trash bag as the presents are opened.

Brenda – I remember throwing the wraping paper in the fireplace at my grandparents, lots of fun. Of course now they warn of the fumes.

justmy2cents – after every present is opened, it’s taken to their room? Wow, never heard of that one before. Bet opening presents takes a long time!


December 27th, 2010
9:24 am

We throw out the wrappings and put boxes and bags in the storage closet on Christmas Day, but presents usually stay around the tree for a couple of days and the decorations never come down until New Year’s. If it was up to me I’d find a way to turn it into a Valentine’s Tree, a St. Patrick’s Tree, Easter Tree,…… Because of my son’s allergies(after a few years of him sneezing, sniffling and suffering during the holidays-it dawned on us) we have an artificial tree that looks amazingly real, we spray a little fresh tree scent around it and it’s almost real. So, I’d leave it up all year if I could.

I remember one year when I was little, the flu ran rampant through our house right after Christmas. Between having it herself, and taking care of everyone else who had it, my mom (who was in charge of decorating) didn’t get Christmas decorations down until February.


December 27th, 2010
9:47 am

Tree will come down next weekend. Most everything will be down next weekend. Not the creche though. Those stay until Jan 6…so the wisemen (and women) have a place to come greet the baby! (Today is Day 2 of the 12 days of Christmas folks!)


December 27th, 2010
9:49 am

I was at the stores yesterday stocking up on Christmas stuff for next year…


no I am not overly organized…just thrifty and a flybaby!


December 27th, 2010
10:11 am

Affect is the verb form. Effect is the object form. :-)

Our Christmas stuff is still out – all over the place. The wrappings are thrown away – trash man came today yeah! Some toys have made it to their rooms while others have not. The only place they are not allowed to be is on the stairs.

I tried to clean up prior to the holiday, but it didn’t work out – too much to do. I need a vacation from my vacation.

Theresa – I want you to know how much I enjoy your blog. Thanks for all that you do!


December 27th, 2010
10:42 am

All Christmas related “stuff” (and I didn’t do much,) is now packed away.


December 27th, 2010
11:04 am

LOL…I have a song I sing with the little kids that goes:


Each day, I am reminded of how different people are..even on this blog. Sometimes, my decorations are up until mid January and it does not bother me in the least. I have over 50 Santas on our mantel and they are drifting over to the book cases. I collect them and got 4 new ones this year. My husband is trying to figure out how to put up a temporary shelf to display them next year. Everyone chimed in to see what might work and we laughed about it. A funny memory for us.

catlady and I recently talked about our Mothers. I think I try to be 180 degrees out from my Mom. So far, my daughter is not going 180 degrees out from me but who knows? Hugs to you catlady.

deidre…your card is going in the mail today!

@ Kat…the Christmas decorations being out for weeks after the holiday, does not AFFECT me like it did my Mother…..LOL! Is that good? We have an artificial tree, as a real one makes me sneeze my head off!

JATL…if you are on the blog today, I can meet you on W. I will send you an e-mail.


December 27th, 2010
11:12 am

Mess? What mess? I think the Christmas elves cleaned it up. The Barbies and the new Barbie Jet aren’t “mess,” they are just ‘resting” between play sessions………………. as is the other stuff. I think the aqua sand melted, I dunno, I don’t see it.

mess is all in the eyes of the beholder. Mess to one person are signs of a child’s fun to another. Mess is over rated anyway. You can clean it up, but it just gets “messy” again. Leggo’s on the floor? Good infantry training. Teaches you to walk through a minefield……….

wonder if I can go get my green egg yet?


December 27th, 2010
11:32 am

@ Fred…we have a Barbie Bonanza packed up in one of the storage rooms downstairs…I recently asked my 18 year old if we could pass it on to another girl and she said, “NO.” Since she cut the hair off of my original, now almost 40 year old, Skipper …the one in the red swimsuit with the striped bodice….perhaps I could sneak some stuff out? :>/ Need anything….LOL.

To me, dirty is not the same as mess…my house is usually pretty clean but often there are messes.

I have a wonderful neighbor who is very neat. We were outside in the spring one time and I mentioned that I love to walk my dog and look at the flower beds in other’s yard…admire them along the way. She replied, “If you EVER see flowers in my yard it will be when I am caught up on all housework and not likely.” I mentioned, “well, I am happy there are those who live here that take time to plant flowers, even if their housework is not done as I have never been in your house nor most of the other houses in our neighborhood to see how clean they are. I have certainly enjoyed the flowers though and it makes my walk quite enjoyable.”

To each their own.


December 27th, 2010
12:04 pm

Wrappings and trash are all bagged up…toys strewn about…
We gradually get toys to the right places over the next few days, but leave tree and other stuff up til New Year’s Eve. And I reserve gifts of Moonsand and PlayDough for kids of sworn enemies.


December 27th, 2010
2:18 pm

Mine are with their Dad now. So the house is pretty clean…I admit there is some trash from the after Christmas Sales (yesterday and today) that I need to catch up on. That will be done before bed tonight….Honestly most of the stuff out there is picked over. Got a new shower curtain and some bath towels. LED candles (they are my new must have item) but those are likely to stay out until spring…I love the warm glow. Also picked up a bunch of table clothes. I had barrowed some from a friend and now am getting my own. I also got a twinkle light Hippo (half off) at Target….I may just have to put that up in the backyard and not wait until next Thanksgiving.

Working on getting my house to where it will be until spring…Then the “lighter” versions of my basic colors (red, yellow, orange, green) will come out. Now I just need to figure out that mantle…thinking of making the livingroom a “lodge” look for winter. Thoughts?

@ Fred–yep Barbie took over a solid corner of my playroom/rec room. She is not likely to be leaving soon. Town home, cars, golf cart, HSM Highschool, cruise ship….man that girl has the privledged life!


December 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

@mompossible–playdough, moonsand, & silly putty are not allowed in my house either. If they get them from someone then it “disappears” when they go to bed. Same with makeup (play or real) for “children”…after all I am not raising them to be trollops.

mom of 3

December 27th, 2010
2:54 pm

It I had the time to do over —- the mess could stay as long as the fun continued. My house was clean and looked like an adult Christmas after all went home after Christmas dinner. You quickly forget the mess that Santa left behind when it’s just you and your husband when they leave.
It was a great Christmas but when all are adults now it’s different. Miss the kid part of it but next year a grandson will be here so maybe Santa will start making a mess again. One can only hope.


December 27th, 2010
3:59 pm

@ mom of 3…can I come to your house? We are also two adults and I got up today to two empty glasses that had milk in them earlier based on the ring and a pile of candy wrappers on the end table. I am also familiar with dry cleaner tags ( from shirts worn to work) that are ripped off and tossed on the floor or left in the bathroom sink. My favorite ( NOT) is gum stuck to the side of the master bath walk in shower. Sometimes I find empty bags from chips or cookies and shoes are very common too. The remote control is never in it’s place either. Once in a while, there are 4-6 coffee mugs sitting in our driveway, from a quick clean out before carpool.. I leave them there all day :) Let’s just say my mother in law was a FAR cry from OCD.

@ FCM…playdough was allowed here if:

1. you used it on the Little Tykes picnic table outside
2. I put a plastic table cloth on the kitchen table and it stayed on the table

I have a table cloth and silly placemats for every month here. Perhaps they need to go? I also cannot bear to toss my son’s Snoopy Placement and Dinosaur cup…it is over 20 years old and reminds me how quickly the time has passed! We have the Barbie cup too!


December 27th, 2010
6:09 pm

thank mjg :)…i agree…i rarely see the inside of my neighbors (few that they are) but i love seeing the flowers that are planted. more people see the yard so im a lot pickier about that…also-it is the first thing i see when i get home and its an ‘ahhhh’ moment to pull in the driveway and see lovely flowers and a neat and tidy outside.
my freind that i am staying with cleaned all her cristmas decorations up last night. boom just like that-when i woke up this morning it was all back to normal.


December 27th, 2010
6:35 pm

MJG–I can tell you, playdoh washes fairly well, but it doesn’t dry worth a (darn). Especially with white blouses and underwear. My son also would leave toads and such in his pockets as well, and they don’t dry well, either. I kind of miss those days (but not the underwear with bonded on playdoh or the toads that could be used as small frisbees.)


December 27th, 2010
10:25 pm

@mompossible, FCM and MJG -I allow playdough as long as it’s only on the dining room table and I put wax paper down. However, whoever invented Moonsand is satan! Oh yeah -it’s so “neat”! Sure, until it gets into berber carpet where you will never, ever steam clean or vacuum or hard brush it all out! My oldest was pining for Moondough and more Moonsand from Santa, but the jolly old elf was wise and steered clear. I didn’t hear any disappointment!

MJG -evidently my mother couldn’t stand to part with certain cups and glasses from my childhood either! Several months ago during a visit to my father’s, I unearthed Looney Tunes and Peanuts glasses I collected from McDonald’s and Hardees one summer back in the 70s. I brought them home and we’re happily drinking from them daily! I’m sure they probably contain some carcinogen from China in the paint, but I survived childhood drinking from them, so I think they’re okay!


December 28th, 2010
12:30 am

Apparently, I have a high tolerance for chaos — we throw the wrapping away as we unwrap, but otherwise, the gifts tend to stay under the tree for a few days and gradually make their way to where they belong. I always looked askance at those people who had their tree down the day after Christmas — mostly because I don’t usually get mine up until the 16-18th, but I leave it up until Epiphany. (Twelve Days of Christmas, and all that . . . :-) To me, the Christmas clutter is fun.

I have a friend who had a brilliant idea I’ve shared her a time or two, but will repeat it for newbies: In mid-November, she goes into her kids’ playroom with a cardboard box (large) and fills it with toys they don’t play with any longer. She does this when they are not there. When they come back, the box is sitting sealed in the middle of the floor. They were told that the toys they didn’t play with were going to be donated to children who had no toys, but if they looked around and could identify a toy in the box that they wanted back, she would give it back to them.

She only gave one toy back in 10 years, it set the tone for the holidays, and it cleared space for new things, all in one fell swoop.


December 28th, 2010
8:37 am

“I have a table cloth and silly placemats for every month here. Perhaps they need to go? I also cannot bear to toss my son’s Snoopy Placement and Dinosaur cup…it is over 20 years old and reminds me how quickly the time has passed! We have the Barbie cup too!”

Why would that need to go? My kids now use the Mickey Mouse forks that my brother and I had as children. They just sat in the back of the drawer for decades awaiting child hands again. If the cups and plates are important to you keep them…I would probably store mine in with my fine china waiting for a neice/nephew or grandchild (hopefully at least a decade away). After all, they sound as precious to you as my Lenox bone china to me!

As for the placemats/cloths for each month. Does it make you happy? Do you enjoy it? If so then it is a keeper! If not, it is just extra stress on you–so think about letting it go.

I do my house Jan – Mar in “winter” tones of my favorite colors. In April spring hues start appearing..with a few eggs and rabbits for Easter…the artificial flowers (I kill live ones) get changed out…some of the containers do too. Throw pillows/blankets. Placemats. The small things like that. Some of the big things (a spring flower pattern on a platter. A bright yellow milk pitcher…the mantle will get an overhaul as the fireplace goes doremant. Spring slips into Summer so some updates may show up but probably not many. Then Labor day weekend Fall shows up. It starts with the flowers getting changed from the ones of summer to the ones of fall (mums and sunflowers appear overnight). Table cloths get swapped for the reds/golds/browns/rusts of fall. I even have salt and pepper shakers that are leaves. Then as halloween approaches, the yellow milk jug (which having been out since April would be tiring to me) gets switched for a ghost theme. With Thanksgiving comes the pilgrims and the jack-o-latern pumpkins get turned to the wall so only the “pumpkin” sides show up. the ghosts and witches leave and the pilgrims take their place…Then of course Thanksgiving weekend I kick everyone out and go on my personal pleasure spree in the house. EVERY room gets decorated–bathrooms, halls, bedrooms (though these get little more than a tree)…However I enjoy doing this. I enjoy morphing my home with a new look each season. I do not suggest everyone do it.

If it makes you happy do it. I do not decorate for the 4th of July. Lots of people do the r/w/b theme in their yards. My flag is up year round…that is all the decorating for that holiday I do. It just doesn’t make me happy to do r/w/b so I stick with my summer stuff. Same with Halloween the kids enjoy it so I do a little something (as I said) but it mostly just fits around what I love about fall…and trust me the minute they no longer care about halloween I will stop putting it out at all.


December 28th, 2010
8:45 am

Our stuff is still out and under the tree. I love looking at it all. I usually take this week off, but decided to work, and save some vacation days.

But yea, our stuff is still out there. We will slowly start putting it away today. Then everything comes down and it all gets put away New Years Day.


December 28th, 2010
8:52 am

@DB it was you sharing that story about your friend a few years back that started me doing same.

christmas valentine

December 28th, 2010
9:42 am

[...] Post-Christmas Clean Up: Getting the house back into shape! – Atlanta Journal Constitution (bl… I adore Christmas but hate how messy the house gets with all the new stuff floating around. My mother used to let us keep our little treasure piles under the tree for 24 to 48 hours before eventually moving it to our rooms or the appropriate location. Dec 27, 2010 3:52pm [...]


December 28th, 2010
1:20 pm

I’m way behind on this one, but the in-laws just left. Is it me, or is 5 nights/6 days TOO LONG? They are great, but I’m so exhausted…and frankly start getting cranky around 4 days!

We have all the wrapping paper/boxes stashed on the porch – unfortunately the recycling/trash won’t be picked up until Thursday. Other than that, most toys are slowly working their way to a home. I wish I had donated more before Christmas, but I think another donation is in order. The 2 year-old has (and received) more toys than she can possibly play with. The tree, etc. will come down next weekend, and only the ‘winter’ themed items will stay out until around February.

[...] Post-Christmas Clean Up: Getting the house back into shape! – Atlanta Journal Constitution (bl… I adore Christmas but hate how messy the house gets with all the new stuff floating around. My mother used to let us keep our little treasure piles under the tree for 24 to 48 hours before eventually moving it to our rooms or the appropriate location. Dec 28, 2010 9:20pm [...]

christmas eve song | August Holidays

December 29th, 2010
9:08 am

[...] Post-Christmas Clean Up: Getting the house back into shape! – Atlanta Journal Constitution (bl… I adore Christmas but hate how messy the house gets with all the new stuff floating around. My mother used to let us keep our little treasure piles under the tree for 24 to 48 hours before eventually moving it to our rooms or the appropriate location. Dec 28, 2010 9:20pm [...]


December 29th, 2010
5:12 pm

@ JOD…old saying by Ben Franklin….fish and company both stink after 3 days! I hold it high esteem!


December 31st, 2010
3:49 pm

I read on a blog about a snowman display on the mantle, so think I will take down my
Christmas decorations and try that. Maybe some cotton for the snow? That could stay up through January.