Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Organizing Category That You Need--Now!

Sometime within the next week or so, most folks will start un-hanging the stockings by the chimney with care, un-trimming the tree, and un-stringing all of those wonderful, twinkling lights. Yes, it's time for Christmas un-decorating. But this post is not about color-coordinated Rubbermaid ornament storage boxes, air-cushioned wreath storage bags, or 50 creative places to store your hoarded rolls of Rudolph wrapping paper. This post is not even about Christmas un-decorating. This post is about Christmas Stragglers and what to do with them.
What are Christmas Stragglers? They are stealth Santas, rogue reindeer, and scalawag snowmen. They appear after all of the Christmas boxes and totes have been hauled up to the attic via the rickety drop-down ladder or dragged down three dark flights of steps to the basement. They appear after you thought that you had collected and stored every last Christmas decoration and ornament.
Christmas Stragglers can appear one day later--that snowman tea towel that you forgot was in the dryer--or weeks or months later when you move the sofa cushions to vacuum and you find one of the Three Wise Men wedged there, still solemnly offering his frankincense.

Christmas Stragglers can also be Christmas items acquired at non-Christmas times of year--those cute sand dollar ornaments that you pick up at the gift shop on your summer vacation, for example, or a classic Christmas picture book snagged for a nickel at a rummage sale in spring. Or how about toddler boots, outgrown in February, which can become next year's adorable Christmas decor?The problem with Christmas Stragglers is that--due to the difficulty of putting them away with all of the other Christmas things in their hard-to-access storage spot--the Stragglers tend to become "homeless"; they loiter in piles where they become Holly Jolly Clutter...year round. And as sweet and generous as old Santa may be, no one wants to see him in June.

The solution? Create a Christmas Stragglers storage box as a designated year-round "home" for the Stragglers, and store the box in an easy-to-access location. Add to the box throughout the year as you find or acquire Christmas items. When Christmas time rolls around again, pull out the Stragglers box along with your other Christmas items, and start decorating and making merry!To make a Stragglers storage box, purchase a cardboard banker's box at an office supply store. (I prefer the simple, inexpensive white economy weight boxes from Staples, as discussed in this post.) Print the jpeg image above (or create your own on your computer), and affix it to the front of the box. Done! In my house, we keep most of the Christmas stuff in the hard-to-access "big attic", but the Christmas Stragglers box lives in the "little attic", a smaller storage area off of our master bedroom which is easier to access.

What are your experiences with Christmas Stragglers? Any funny stories to share?