Share the Love – 5 Tips to Undecorate for Christmas

I never considered the idea to undecorate for Christmas. But I should have. The last time I braved my cellar for canning jars, I was attacked by boxes of Christmas decorations. Boxes exploded with ornaments, lights, and some broken macaroni. I released the biggest sigh before putting things back in the boxes.

stack of boxes marked fragile to help undecorate for Christmas

The idea to undecorate for Christmas isn’t truly mine. It came to me from my friend, Sharon. We both have been lamenting having a lot of ‘stuff’. Our goal is to thin things out and make our homes manageable.

That’s easy to do with things ‘on the surface’, so to speak. We clean out closets. Cabinets are emptied and thinned. We have our boxes labeled ‘keep’, ‘toss’, and ‘donate’. But how often do we think about all those boxes of holiday decorations?

Why We Struggle to Undecorate for Christmas

drum ornaments; gold package ornaments, Christmas garland

I use Christmas decorations in a general sense. It may be easy to toss a dented plastic pumpkin. Crunched silk fall leaves are also easy to discard.

But it is so much harder to toss a child’s handmade Macaroni ornament. It is also difficult to impossible to toss a ragged Santa in the trash.

There are all too often strong sentimental bonds attached to be willing to keep these ornaments year after year. They hang on our hearts as beautifully as they do our trees. When it comes time to undecorate for Christmas, tossing them in the trash can just seems too sad for words.

With these ornaments come memories of Christmas past. We think back to our child’s first Christmas. Some ornaments commemorate celebrations, anniversaries, and accomplishments. Others are gifts from people we love.

It Isn’t Just the Ornaments, Either

decorated Christmas tree; white mantel with reindeer, garland, stuffed Santa

For some reason, magazines, books, and advertisements seem to tout that more is better. It isn’t ‘fashionable’ to stop with just a tree, and maybe the fireplace mantle. It isn’t even a consideration to undecorate for Christmas.

Instead, we ‘need’ to decorate every room in the house and have some type of holiday decoration on every piece of furniture, on the walls, and in any empty space.

Having all these decorations may be beautiful. But once the holiday is over, consider how much storage space you need to store the boxes and boxes of decorations.

Think of it this way – those boxes are stored for at least 48 to 50 weeks a year. And guess what – that is only when they are filled. The boxes or containers themselves are stored 52 weeks a year. After all, once the decorations come out, you have to put the empty boxes somewhere, right?

If it looks like this at your house, maybe it is past time to undecorate for Christmas.

It’s Time to Undecorate for Christmas

light blue Christmas ornament with a gold pressed flower

It may be difficult to part with some of these ornaments and decorations. Still, it may be time to put sentiment aside.

This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of every decoration you own. Instead, keep those that are most important. As for the rest, consider these ideas to undecorate for Christmas – or rather, thin out the excess.

Before we go any further, I know getting rid of ornaments and decorations can sound a bit callous. Trust me – it hurts my heart as well. I have ornaments that I love. But if I keep them all, I don’t have enough room in my house for a tree that large!

Think Realistically

child's handmade gingerbread man ornament painted blue and green with glitter

Before you start to undecorate for Christmas, you may want to sit down and truly think about what you want. If your heart and passion is to go all out, then by all means keep what you have.

But consider the time it takes to not only decorate but reorganize your entire home each time you do. There isn’t just moving items and furniture around, but also dusting, vacuuming, and other cleaning that will need to be done.

You also want to think about how much space you do have. Your home can only hold a certain size tree. If you have enough ornaments to decorate ten trees, it may be time to thin them out.

Grab a Trash Can

two galvanized trash cans in front of a brick wall

One of the first ways to undecorate for Christmas is to think about which decorations and ornaments are truly necessary. More than anything I want to keep the Macaroni ornaments my children made. However, dried Macaroni can be a mess.

First, it breaks easily. Those crumbs make a mess. On a second note, dried pasta is a great feeding ground for bugs and ants. After a few years, those ornaments are reduced to splotches of dried glue on construction paper. The original work of art is no longer.

These are the ornaments you can keep hanging on your heart. If necessary, take photos of them when they are given to you. This way you can keep them even longer, without having to store them.

Some ornaments may be crushed beyond recognition. A few may be broken. This is a perfect place to start thinning them out.

Hand Them Down

a man's hand holding a heart shaped gift box

Some ornaments may be so precious to us we don’t want to just toss them out. Instead, consider handing them down to your children, grandchildren, or other family members.

This is a perfect way to re-ignite memories of holidays past. It is a great way to welcome a daughter or son-in-law to the family. Grandchildren may love having an inherited ornament as well.


woman's hands handing a box with 'Donation' on the side to another woman

It seems there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see something on the news about catastrophic events. Floods wipe out entire communities. Hurricanes devastate towns and cities. And fires remove any evidence of life throughout large geographical areas. The folks who live in these areas lose everything they own.

Elderly people are required to downsize small enough to fit their belongings into a single room. This may be in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

woman's hand hanging a glittery gold heart ornament on a Christmas tree

Young couples just starting out can’t always afford the tree, much less the ornaments. They are too busy paying the bills and keeping a roof over their heads.

Some young adults are away at school. A few of those are on scholarships and may not be able to afford the gas or transportation to get home for the holidays.

There are any number of reasons some folks don’t have a tree, ornaments, or other holiday decorations. By gathering up good quality ornaments and decorations, you may just bring a bit of holiday spirit into someone else’s life.

Talk to your local nursing home, hospital, or Senior Citizen center. See if they would enjoy having your extras.  If there is a family in need who has lost everything due to weather related issues, or circumstances beyond their control, consider offering your extras to them.

box of glass ornaments; gold garland; silver star tree top

You can also donate to your local thrift store. Many people can barely afford to put gifts under the tree. Finding decorations and ornaments at a thrift store may be all that is available to them.

Consider taking them to a local church or school. You may not know of people in need, but pastors and teachers often have the inside track on folks who need a little holiday cheer. They may possibly also arrange to deliver the items. But before you drop off your boxes, please contact them first to make sure this is something they are willing to do!

Make Them an Excuse for a Party!

simple brown boxes tied with red raffia ribbon

Don’t misunderstand. I am not advocating you have an Ornament Exchange. After all, you are trying to thin out, not add to the collection!

However, if you have a Dirty Santa party you are attending, consider offering one of the nicer ornaments, a holiday candle, or other decoration as your gift.

If you are hosting a gathering, consider wrapping up the nicer ornaments as a gift for each person. You can also use them as part of the place settings and let them know the ornaments are theirs for the taking.

Make Time to Undecorate for Christmas

simple Christmas tree with cream ornaments

It may be tough, but maybe it is time to undecorate for Christmas. Yes, we love our treasured ornaments. Yes, it is difficult to let go of those sweet memories.

But keep in mind, those memories are already safely stored in our hearts. In some cases, we have the added benefit of photos stored in albums.

And once you undecorate for Christmas, think of all the clean space you will have. Your home will be more organized. And who knows? It may give you the incentive to ‘undecorate’ the rest of those boxes you have in storage.

Thank you, Sharon, for this great idea! I will definitely be ‘undecorating’ for Christmas this year!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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