putting away Christmas in the living room

A few weeks ago, DH and I took down all the Christmas decorations in the dining room and living room except the living room tree and the window toppers. This week I tackled the tree. It’s a big job. The tinsel has to be removed, the ornaments sorted (ours, the kids’), the popcorn/cranberry strings taken off, the lower lights removed and stored. Lots to do.

I didn’t know I could use tinsel on an artificial tree until my sister Margaret told me five or six years ago that she always uses it on her own tree. We had a cut tree in the living room until I found that out. Then we went to artificial, which I had wanted to do for some time as we decorate so early and leave the tree up so long. I had stayed with using a cut tree so I could use tinsel.

In this picture, I’ve started taking the tinsel off the bottom of the tree…grabbed it by handfuls, saved some just because it came off so well, and the rest went into the trash.

living room tree

After the tinsel was removed, I took off the ornaments. I store plain balls in a cardboard box without wrapping them in tissue. I’ve never had a problem with this method. I used a storage box lid to hold the other ornaments as they were removed. Then they were carried to the dining room table where they were sorted.

taking down Christmas

At the table, I had a lid for each of the three kids and for my and DH’s ornaments. When they came from the tree, I sorted them onto the ends of the lids…DD#3 at the far end, then DD#2, DD#1, and DH and my ornaments at this end of the table. After sorting all the ornaments I had carried from the tree, I stopped long enough to wrap the ornaments in tissue paper and place them into cardboard boxes which were also sitting on the storage lids. Each cardboard box has the name of the child whose ornaments are in that box. They have always enjoyed putting their own ornaments on the tree, so I have always kept them stored separately.

sorting the kids' ornaments

I don’t wrap unbreakable ornaments with tissue. I like to have a box or two of ornaments I can hand to children who want to “help.” They like having an entire box of ornaments they can put up without constantly being told “be careful!”

unbreakable ornaments

I did tier one – what I could reach sitting down, and tier two – what I could reach standing up. DH did tier 3 – what had to be reached from the ladder. BTW, we love our Little Giant ladder! It’s a wonderful tool for “this old house.” I gave it to DH for Christmas several years ago and we are constantly commenting on how glad we are to have it.

DH has to do the top of the tree

Once the ornaments were removed, we took the red beads and the popcorn and cranberry strings off. The beads are stored in a large zippered storage bag. They are thrown in together and never tangle, so they are easy to store. The popcorn and cranberry strings are pitched. We tried putting them outside for the birds a few times, but never found any interest in them, so now we throw them away.

Then it was time to remove the lights. Most years, we remove the lights from the lower four branches, remove the branches for storage in black bags (because the tree is too wide to fit through the attic door otherwise), and leave the rest of the tree intact. This year, we removed all the lights because many of the strings are old and fading. They need to be replaced. We were able to buy the commercial grade of light strings after Christmas for 75% off. A great deal and we will use those to replace the lights on this tree and the library tree next year.

I wrap the lights around my hand and store each string in a plastic shopping bag. I begin wrapping at the female end (the end without the prongs) so the male end (prongs) are on the outside of the roll. That makes it easy to plug the string in next year to check it, without unwinding the entire string.

storing light strings

This year, we took the tree completely apart, then replaced the branches. Some were obviously out of order (not sure how that happened!) which gave the tree an odd shape. As we removed each layer, I lined up the bundles in the front hall, with layer #1 at the front door and coming down the hall in order. We checked each layer to be sure all the branches were there and that all the branches in each layer matched. Now the tree is in good order and looks better.

tree braches lined up in order

With the tree down, DH was able to remove the window garlands and that was the end of “undecorating” the living room.

This is the two foot tall box DH made for the 9′ tree to stand on. The round things are sliders which make moving the tree across the floor very easy.

box for the living room tree

And now the living room is back to “normal.” It looks bare after all the decorations are removed, but now we’re ready for our 4H meeting tomorrow evening! 🙂

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~~Rhonda 🙂

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