Start of January
Take down the Christmas cards you were sent and displayed. You DID get them up?
If you do not have a list of people you send Christmas cards to, then you could start to build it up now, by recording the names and addresses of those who sent you Christmas cards this year. Even better, record them on a spreadsheet because that will let you print out address labels next November or December, making sending cards even easier!
Just Get It Done Tip
If you find that making a card list or recording it on a spreadsheet is holding you back from clearing away the cards, then forget that and just get them gathered up, ready to recycle or dump.
Store Any unused Cards For Next Year
If you had any Christmas cards and stamps left over, you can save them for next year. I use an old boot box or shoe box and store it at the side of my wardrobe. If you need to have something tidier, AND your finances can stand it, you can get special boxes for storing all kinds of cards. If money is tight, an old shoe box or any other kind of available box will do fine. You can even use it for storing birthday cards, so you always have one available for emergencies during the year!
Take Down The Tree
Of course, this depends on the type of tree you had. A “real” Christmas tree will now need to be disposed of somehow and removed from the house without dropping dry prickly pine needles all over the floor. This is always a harder job than dragging in the fresh tree at the start of December. Some people keep their fresh Christmas tree in a tub and bring that in each year, rolling it outside again in January. That gives you the joy of a fresh tree without the needle drop, however, the tub can get dirty during the year, you may need a trolley to move it in and out and the tree will keep growing, eventually getting too big.
An artificial Christmas tree can of course be dismantled and stored in the box it came in. What? You didn’t keep the box? No problem, you can get a Christmas tree bag, to take the place of the one you threw out when Christmas was going to last forever. It is also possible to get a bag that covers the tree without dismantling it which saves having to take it apart, with the possibility of losing or breaking a vital part. If you get one of those, you are probably best to be able to keep the tree on the same level of your house as it may be heavy or awkward to move.
Take Down The Decorations
And unless you are storing the tree vertically, with unbreakable ornaments, you will need to take any lights, tinsel and decorations off and store those safely. Lights can be wound around a reel to keep them tangle free. Many decorations are fragile and may need to be stored in a soft storage box with good protection around it.
This really should be done as soon as Christmas is over but unless it is done in the time between Christmas and New Year, it will probably get left until there is a bit of time left over from putting the wreckage away! This is the bit about recording what went well and what could have been improved over Christmas. You may enjoy creating a Christmas journal for this, to last from year to year. If you haven’t the time or the money to develop a journal at the minute, get an old school exercise book, or anything you can write in and keep, to record what you need to remember.
I have included the turkey roasting times and oven temperature, the weights of vegetables I used (roughly) a reminder to get large foil and check my roasting tin is still ok. A list of fruit and veg I buy to last over the 4 days, boiling times for Christmas pudding, a reminder to get cream, the recipe for the favorite Turkey curry and turkey soup, etc. Anything that you only do at Christmas and might forget about by next Christmas. While you might enjoy coloring in a journal and recording all this in different styles of penmanship, the important thing is to write it down or record it for next year, so you don’t make the same mistakes as this year (if you did). I also write down the number of cards I posted out, so I can buy enough for next year and the correct number of stamps.
IF you have the money available and the available space, and only if, then see whether any of the shops have sales on for Christmas cards, wrapping paper, money envelopes, colored sticky tape, labels, or anything that you USE for Christmas and don’t still have enough of for next year. You could also look out for any craft sales or children’s books that would be suitable for any children you buy for (remember they will be a year older). If your finances are not in a good way of going, forget about this point, it’s more important to get the money side sorted.
Now is the time to take a good hard look at your finances. Christmas can be a very big drain on the purse or wallet if you let it. And the credit card bills will be coming in to roost shortly. If you have several cards to pay and are worried about how to pay them, get advice on debt EARLY. If your debt is worrying but not at crisis point, then pay the minimum off on all cards and pay extra off on the card with the highest rate of interest to bring it down as fast as possible. If the interest rate is the same on all the cards, then pay the extra off on the card with the least debt on it, then move onto the next. The reason for that is that you will be able to pay it off fastest and then you can spread any available money between fewer cards. If you do not know WHY you got into debt and are not sure how to get out of it, then I suggest you buy and read the GOOD book – the Get Out Of Debt book by Pam Young – ignore any other books of the same name. Pam Young is the real thing. She was in massive debt and found a way to get out of debt and cut up her credit card. You can do it too. This book is also SERIOUSLY FUNNY!
If you really want to see the credit card funeral, you can watch this here.
It is also extremely funny and shows a judge performing a funeral service for credit cards at a convention where people decided to become debt free, despite having large debts owing.
Check that you have taken down all your Christmas cards, your tree, decorations, lights, tinsel etc and that they are now stored safely where you won’t trip over them but you can access them easily next December.
Get your Christmas card list started, completed or updated for next year.
Check your finances and make plan to improve them if necessary.
Record any necessary information in your Christmas journal, so you have your recipes, times, oven temperatures and other plans ready to remind you at the critical moment.
If your finances are sorted, you could consider whether there are any small items you could buy ahead for next year. Alternatively, start saving money towards the cost of next Christmas but only if your credit cards are sorted. If you owe any money, get it paid off as soon as possible.