It happens every year, and the more kids you have, the more intense it is.

You prepare for days beforehand: wrapping gifts, baking cookies, cleaning bathrooms.

Then, it is finally TODAY. Christmas.

You relish Christmas day. Your kids relish it. Stockings are opened, cinnamon rolls and bacon are enjoyed, presents are unwrapped, coffee is savored, the afternoon drifts on with perhaps a movie or a board game. Then comes the huge meal. More sugar, another glass of wine, late bedtimes, and then at last everyone is tucked into bed.

What a joyous day.

Then, you wake up the next morning and the house is absolutely trashed.

What was all celebratory chaos the day before is now suddenly only cardboard boxes, packaging bits, and dishes everywhere.

And who wants to deal with it? Let’s just have another piece of fudge with our morning coffee.

Yes, do that. But then, after your second cup, here’s what you do to regain some semblance of sanity in fifteen minutes or less.

Sanity Hack: 5 Step Post-Christmas Whirlwind

  1. Go quickly around the house, gathering up dishes and glasses and moving them to the sink. Clear the tables, the floors, the bookshelves – whatever surfaces had mugs or plates or glasses left on them – and simply move the dirty dishes to the sink to be washed later.
  2. Gather all the packaging that you want to keep in case returns must be made. Either collect it into one big box, into a large reusable bag, or into a trash bag if you’re sure no one will accidentally take it out to the dumpster. Move it into the storage room or garage. Then, in February or March, you can always trash the entire thing.
  3. Take a pair of scissors and have at the rest of the boxes. Deconstruct them and get them into a single flat stack. Take them to the recycling pile or dumpster right away.
  4. Grab a garbage bag and, as quickly as you can, fill it. Napkins, wrapping paper bits, packaging bits, orange peels – throw away as much as possible as quickly as possible. Then take that trash bag straight out.
  5. Finally, make neat piles in out-of-the-way places. You can make one stack per person with their new things or gather together a pile of all the books, all the new toys, or however else you want to do it. But gather the things onto side tables or in one living room corner instead of scattered abroad everywhere.

Tackling the job like this, in phases, is a faster and more satisfying way of clearing the chaos than pottering around, picking at the mess here and there.

If you take about 15 minutes to tackle the post-Christmas decluttering, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy another slow day lounging in twinkle-lights with your family without the low-level stress of the mess ruining the mood.


  1. Done! In the process of doing this last year, we discovered if we wanted to save “bows”, we needed them to be easy to find (holiday or birthday), unsquished, and easy to put away. So we finally gave them their own box. :D No more bags of bows crammed into the gift wrap box. No “tags” and spools of ribbons crammed in the bow box. What a breeze to wrap this year! What a breeze to clean up after the gifts were unwrapped. (We do NOT keep used wrapping paper. I have a relative you unwraps packages VERY CAREFULLY because she used to save the paper. Sometimes she is sooo careful, I jokingly accuse her of saving the tape!!! )

    1. That sounds like a great system! My mom often uses wire ribbon tied around presents instead of bows. After 3 years of saving her ribbons, I now have a collection myself that I reuse every year. The great thing about the ribbon is that it’s not as critical that it doesn’t get smashed.

      It’s amazing what designating a home can do to speed things up and make life easier! Thanks for sharing!

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