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Now, let the cleanup begin

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. My sister came to visit and she just managed to leave Missouri ahead of their snowstorm. We had a great time and did all those "sister" things like cooking and shopping. We managed to embarrass my 15-year-old when we went shopping. She wouldn't walk with us because she said we were acting like immature teenagers!
Now that Christmas is over, it is time to put away all the Christmas decorations and settle back into a routine. I don't mind the settling part – I hate the putting away part.
Several years ago after fighting to untangle lights and garland, I decided there had to be an easier way to store this stuff. Of course, there were all sorts of containers and things on the market, but at the time we couldn't afford them. Nevertheless, I carefully looked at what was available and put my creativity to work.
For my lights I took pieces of cardboard about 6 – 8 inches wide and as long as the box I put my lights in. I cut small grooves on both sides of the cardboard about 1-2 inches apart. As I took my lights off the tree or whatever, I wrapped them around the cardboard and into the grooves. This helps hold them in place while packed keeping them from getting tangled. I did the same thing with the garland but used wider cardboard with wider grooves. I slid them into my box and labeled them. The next year it was so wonderful to just pull them out and unwind them as I put them up!
My next problem was ornaments. It seemed we always had several broken each Christmas from just being moved around and stored. Once again I looked at what was available to purchase and once again we just couldn't afford it. I went home and looked at what I had to use. I took a plastic storage container and cushioned the bottom with a couple old sheets.
Next I took some cardboard and cut it to fit in the bottom of the box. I needed to be able to layer my ornaments so they could all fit in one box, but I didn't want any weight on my bottom ornaments. After looking at the way the ones that you could buy were made, I came up with a similar idea. I took eight pieces of cardboard about six inches long and cut a slit in the middle of them a half way through the cardboard, then I slid two pieces of cardboard together to make a "T" shape. I made them taller then my tallest ornament to support the weight of the next layer. I positioned my "T's" one on each side of my box. I also put newspaper between my ornament to cushion them, then I put another piece of cardboard on top of my "T's" and started my next layer. This worked quite well. I also make a point of keeping as many of the original ornaments boxes as possible.
These things have made my "un-decorating" simpler over the years. Something else the kids and I do is have an "un-decorating" party. You see Daddy usually has to work the day after Christmas and the kids find that a major bummer. Our "un-decorating" party consists of goodies set out on the counter for munching while working, a favorite movie on the TV and a treat when we're through. Usually our treat is going to McDonald's or ordering pizza in. I find my kids work better when they see a light at the end of the tunnel.
It also seems every year we end up leaving some Christmas things out. So for the last couple years when were all done, but haven't packed away the boxes yet, I give the kids a chance to hunt for missed Christmas things.
They get 25 cents for each item they find. It amazes me that the same children who can't walk in their room and find a shoe in their closet can ferret out Christmas things everywhere! I'm beginning to think the little stinkers are hiding them so they can earn extra money!
I always feel so content and ready for the new year once everything is put away. Speaking of the new year, there is so much I want to do and change this year, I have trouble choosing what I want or need to do first. So what do I need – you got it – a plan! First, I've decided to work on . . . Well, maybe I better save this idea for next week.
If you have an idea or tip to share please send it to: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640; or