Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Would that I'd had these valuable tips...

One of the A-header's in last week's Wall Street Journal focused on taking down your Christmas decorations.

The centerpiece of the article was a family in Pittsburgh that puts up 63 trees each year, all with separate themes. The trees are artificial, which is a good thing. Just think of the balsam needles you find all year - Christmas in July, alright - when you have just the one tree. The thought of 63...

As obsessions go, having 63 Christmas trees strikes me as fairly harmless, although it was noted that the family had to wait until their daughter was back at college before they de-decorated, since they needed her bedroom for storage. Does that mean she can't come home any other time of the year? That's just sad, although given the family's Christmas tree obsession, maybe it works out just fine for her.

I'm actually thinking of contacting the family to see if they could spare one of their 63 artificial trees for my cousin "B", who is on record for having the world's worst artificial tree. Despite the fact that "B's" husband "D" is an engineer, he could not figure out how to put the three tree sections together without leaving 9 inch horizontal gaps, giving quite a startling look to the tree.

On one hand, the fact that "B" has the world's crappiest tree is something of a surprise, as she has some of the world's most fabulous Christmas decorations which, I suspect, are perfectly well organized and labeled when she goes to put them away at the end of the holiday season.

On the other hand, "B" is carrying on the long and fine tradition of her mother, my beloved aunt "M", who, for many year running had the world's most pathetic and terrible real Christmas tree.

But I digress from what was, for me, the best part of the article: the tips from professional organizers on how to take care of your holiday decorations.

Some suggest taking pictures of things that looked nice together and storing them accordingly, while others advocate "zoning storage," for example, putting outdoor decorations in the garage.

Not me!

My decorations go into 4 large green plastic tubs (with festive red handles).

I don't worry about figuring out what looks nice together and storing accordingly in zoning storage.

Mostly because I don't have enough decorations to worry about, let alone enough storage to zone.

As for figuring out what goes where, most of my decorations are ornaments that go on the tree, and, from year to year, I follow a couple of simple rules of thumb:

Heavy ornaments go on the bottom, less attractive and/or less special ornaments move to the rear of the tree. Other than that, there's not much to fret about.

Christmas vases go mostly on the mantle, and I really don't care where they're placed from year to year. And I don't imagine that anyone else does either.

Wherever they go, they look just fine.

And that goes for the rest of my decorations.

Sure, Santa on the reindeer looks swell in the kitchen, but it also works in the living room, on my grandmother's rickety old desk.

In any case, storage is at a premium in our condo, and there's none of the luxury of storing in a basement, an attic, or a garage. Things get stored wherever they fit. And the wherever where my Christmas decorations fit is in the storage space underneath the staircase.

To get them there, I have to crawl on my stomach, pushing the tub before me, one at a time, to the back of the crawlspace. There, I place two tubs go on top of each others, and tuck the other two in sideways. (Good thing those festive red handles hold.) Also in the crawl space goes the red and green wrapping paper container, on top of which I store towels and blankets that I'm never going to use. The wickedly heavy tree stand goes in a little alcove just inside the crawl space, where it sits beneath a suitcase.

Since there are no spare cubic inches of storage space in my home, there is no margin for error in putting away my decorations.

Perhaps I, too, could be a professional organizer, specializing in folks with little or no storage - those of us who, if we buy something new that is non-perishable and has volume beyond that of a scarf, pair of earrings, or book (paperback), must throw something that occupies comparable cubic space the hell out.

There were a couple of other fine tips offered by the WSJs:

Mary Beth Breckenridge, a home and decorating columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal, says decorations should be cleaned before storing. Soiled cotton ornaments, such as little lambs, can be touched up with a toothbrush coated with cornstarch, she says, while artificial poinsettias can be tossed in a bag with a half cup of salt, which acts as a slight abrasive to rub off dust.

Alas, I didn't have this tip in time.

All those cloth ornaments that could have been touched up with a cornstarch-coated toothbrush! Or would it only work on the white parts? I think I'll try this on a little toy lamb I got in Ireland years ago. Its real wool coat is looking a bit ratty....

As for artificial poinsettias, I do not use them.

But I will keep in mind that, if I ever need to rub dust of them, I can do so with a grain of salt.

With that, I'll conclude what I'm guessing is my last Christmas-related post until late next fall, and wish hearty well-organized, well-stored decorations to all, and to all a goodnight.

1 comment:

MalloryLoren said...

I've got a great + super simple tip. The next time you're purchasing a gift card-- go for the electronic (and paperless) option, an eGift card. Each year, 75 millions lbs of PVC is dumped into landfills from plastic gift card waste (Plenty Magazine). That's an astronomical amount of waste for something that can easily and conveniently be sent virtually. PVC is notoriously difficult to recycle and cannot be tossed into the recycling bin along side your other household items. You must send those pesky plastic cards to a PVC recycling plant, the only one I know of is EarthWorks. For a directory of retailers that offer an eGift card, try http://www.giftzip.com ...it is the most extensive one I have found to date. Hope that helped. :)