Storage Boxes By Zara Home.
Making a Home

Holiday
Packing,
Festive
Edition

Words by KATHERINE ORMEROD

Goodbye Christmas, hello 2024:
how to unwrap your holiday-dressed home
and pack away Christmas the elegant way.

Christmas, what a joy! Cherubic carol singers, beef wellington and crystal glasses overflowing with fizz. We’re all so grateful for the fairy-lit time with our loved ones. But also, thank goodness it’s all over. As we breathe a sigh of relief, close the door on festive-season guests and conclude our seasonal extravagances, allow me to talk you through the most effective ways to pack away and preserve your Christmas treasures.

I will admit to being extraordinarily Scrooge-like the minute bells toll midnight on the new year. The post-Christmas revelries become abundantly clear, and the carnage is hard to hide from. Like me, you may have noticed your tree is approximately 87% past its prime, your wreath has been asymmetric for many days, and your fridge is full of no longer delicious leftovers and an abundance of condiments you most likely won’t eat for the next 12 months.

Natural beige oat ribbon from Etsy.

Melting Candle

Unscented pillar candles by Next.

Delightfully (or not, depending on your view), packing away Yuletide accoutrements is also an opportunity for a mid-winter version of a spring clean, a chance to start the year anew the right way. If, like me, you have young children running underfoot, it can be tempting to quickly and efficiently discard the festive paraphernalia with little consideration of its longevity into the loft, garage, cellar or room of requirement. Try to resist that urge and take your time. I have a bulk buy of tissue paper stored for this specific task and I start the de-Christmasfication by wrapping each ornament individually to keep it as safe as possible for use next year. There is nothing less festive than excitedly opening a dusty box of decorations and finding yourself greeted by shattered glass and limbless snowmen. Making good use of the abundance of gift packaging, I also keep aside shredded paper and any bubble wrap to create a padded bed in the bottom of a couple of beautiful big retail boxes (one from Matches, one from Penny Morrison) to store the tissue-wrapped treasures. 

One area that can cause you untold potential future pain is string lights - imagine abandoning all your necklaces in a box and coming back a year later. Chaos. Wrap each length carefully, ensuring there are no knots or kinks that could weaken the circuit, and do not place anything heavy on top of your light box, as the casings are wafer-thin. Additionally, this applies to any outdoor lights. I also use a lot of battery-powered LEDs, so I remove all the batteries and recharge them for future remote-control urgencies or similar. 

Love it or loathe it, now is also the opportune time to think very seriously about anything that has served its time. I’ve been using a dried length of pine along our bannister for the past three years. It was almost certainly past its best late November, right now, it is merely an unfortunate excuse for a garland and needs to be composted rather than stockpiled. Over the years, I’ve also been slowly upgrading my ornaments, moving from a 20-box of Ikea baubles in ‘red’ to hand-blown glass, one year at a time. This means there are a plethora of no longer functioning, dented spheres, many hookless lurking at the bottom of my boxes. Needless to say, they did not make the cut and will, therefore, go into plastic recycling. Reserve space in your Christmas pack-up boxes purely for beautiful and delightful ornaments that will fill you with joy rather than doom when the boxes are re-opened and it’s time to decorate your home again.

Rose bespoke wax kit set handcrafted in London by Seasons Boutique.

"For once, I’m giving myself a New Year gift and foregoing my out-of-home coffees to pay for an ironing service."

Similarly to the rest of the world, 2023 was my Christmas of bows, with ribbons strewn and knotted all over my tables and trees. For perfect packing away, I’ve undone all the bows and laid the ribbons flat (and ironed, I know! However tiresome it’s also essential), then wound each colour in a reel. I kept a couple of packets of silica to pop in with the reels in case of any damp or moisture, which could lead to mould in the fabric. Again, remember: preservation and longevity. Elsewhere, all the candles lit over the season have had a little appraisal, with the stubs collected together for melting down to be repoured or used for letter seals.

Of course, it’s not just the decorative aspect of the house that needs addressing post-Christmas - I’ve personally been devoured by my laundry basket, with a pile of table and bed linen that seems to be mysteriously regenerating itself. For once, I’m giving myself a New Year gift and foregoing my out-of-home coffees to pay for an ironing service. The darkest days of the early year require full self-kindness, and considering the hard work and dedication that went into the festive hosting, I’m giving myself a break this January.

And finally, the tree itself. I’m committed to an annual natural tree, yet unfortunately, the pitfalls of the organic option really reveal themselves at this time of year. When I lived in a flat, we did it the city way (efficiently out the window), but if the front door is your only solution, might I suggest you do your best to wrap it in a sheet first so you catch as many needles as possible. Otherwise, and I speak from experience, you will find yourself still hoovering up vestiges of pine in every corner of your home come midsummer. And no one needs that in rosé season.

Foldable cotton laundry basket with texture and metal handles on the sides from Zara Home.

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