The Art of the Untrim: Retailer Tips for Tackling Post-Holiday Decor Dismantling

As I take the final stroll through my home, bidding farewell to the festive splendor of Christmas, I can’t help but reflect on the meticulous planning and anticipation that goes into the holiday season. For me, Christmas is a year-round affair. 

In retail we are always famously working so many seasons ahead. In fact, in a few weeks we are headed back to market to buy for Christmas for next year! In June and July, merchandise starts to arrive. In August (typically), the first signs of the holidays start to appear around the shop. By September, the looks are going up one by one, room by room, and from there it’s a full-on sprint until the end of the year with special events (in-store and out), speaking engagements, and spreading as much holiday cheer (and décor) as we can manage! 

At work and at home, because of my retail brain, I am thinking about any particular Christmas the year before as I am setting it up and afterwards as I am taking it down. At the shop I’m always observing what our customers are drawn to, what they love, and what they are asking for and this helps to shape the plan for the following year. At home and at the shop, because we set up on the earlier side, I often find great inspiration and see and have good ideas after I’m already set up. I make notes and take photos and file away tidbits of info and inspo to look back on as I prep the following year. 

Now tomorrow, on December 26th, the day of transition will have finally arrived. While I’m eager to bid adieu to the holiday hustle (which I’ve been in since August), I’ll be spending time with my boys and enjoying the last bits of our cozy Christmas home before it all comes down.  

Being a retailer immersed in the ebb and flow of seasonal cycles, I’ve gathered some tips that might help you seamlessly navigate the post-holiday takedown. Join me in savoring the remnants of the season and preparing for the exciting prospect of what’s to come. Here are a few of my retailer tips to incorporate into your holiday take-down process to help you prolong the life of your decor, make next year’s set up a little easier, and maintain inventory of what you already have. 

Inventory Your Decor 

As we say goodbye to another holiday season, I can’t stress enough the importance of a post-Christmas ritual that has become a tradition for me both at home and at Nell Hill’s—the yearly inventory. It’s not just a practical necessity; it’s a ritual of reflection and planning that brings a sense of order to the whirlwind of holiday festivities. At the shop, we dedicate a few days to meticulously sorting and counting every item in our inventory, ensuring that we start the new year organized and focused. This process allows us to reassess what worked and what can be reimagined for the upcoming season. 

I extend this practice to my own holiday haven at home. As I take down each ornament and carefully store away the festive treasures, I find it invaluable to open up every box of holiday décor, even those that remained untouched this year. Lay them all out if necessary and take a moment to do a quick inventory of what you have. Consider what made its way into this year’s décor, what stayed in storage, and why. This reflective process is an opportunity to ask yourself whether it’s time for some items to find a new home (you have to make room for new things somehow, right?! 😉).  

While it might seem counterintuitive to think about inventory before hitting the post-holiday deals, this preemptive measure arms you with knowledge. Knowing what you have and identifying gaps in your collection helps you make informed decisions during those tempting Christmas sales. I’m definitely guilty of adopting new garland each year, conveniently forgetting that I indeed have totes full of them in the basement. Additionally, it’s a chance to reassess items in storage. If you’re anything like me, perhaps there’s a hidden gem you’ve forgotten, or maybe it’s time to bid farewell to pieces that no longer resonate with your style. 

So, as you wrap up this holiday season, take a moment to inventory and reflect. It’s not just about tidying up; it’s a mindful practice that ensures your holiday treasures bring joy for years to come. 

Properly Store Your Decor 

As we navigate the delicate dance of dismantling the holiday splendor, I’ve come to appreciate the art of what I like to call the “Christmas disassembly checklist.” It’s a systematic approach to undoing the festive magic, ensuring that each ornament, garland, and Santa figurine finds its designated place for a well-deserved rest until next year. One invaluable tip that has proven to be a game-changer is to capture a visual record of your decorations. A printed snapshot taped to the front of each storage container becomes a decoding key when you’re knee-deep in boxes, searching for that perfect kitschy Santa to complete your whimsical table display. It’s worth noting that there are other tools available to help with storage organization these days, like a QR code filing system of sorts, but I’m “old school” and prefer the good old-fashioned printed photos and labels. 

Table linens, the unsung heroes of festive feasts, deserve their moment in the post-holiday spotlight. Before tucking them away, ensure they’re treated to a thorough cleaning and a gentle press, ensuring they’re ready to grace your table with elegance next year. Tuck them neatly folded into a safe place, or drape them over a blanket hanger and store in a closet. 

When it comes to larger items like Christmas tree decor, mantels, and greenery, the storage strategy becomes an art form. While some may opt for an organization based on space or specific items like the “living room tree,” those who relish variety each year might find it more practical to organize by category. Grouping, inventorying, and categorizing garlands, trees, ornaments, and more allow for a clearer vision when you embark on your holiday design journey the following year. 

If you like to keep some of your elements the same year after year, or you know that next year you just won’t have the decorating time you’d like, consider leaving a few of your elements intact for storage. Two simple things with which to do this? A decorated mantelpiece and pick and ribbon clusters from your tree. Mantel greenery and ornaments with ribbon can be tied together, removed from anchoring elements in the wall or millwork, and safely tucked away until next year. If you made clusters of picks, ribbons, and ornaments for your tree (something you would have done during setup), consider keeping those clusters together and inserting them into your tree next year too. 

Investing in heavy-duty plastic totes might not sound glamorous, but it’s a crucial step in safeguarding your festive treasures. Yes, lugging them up and down from the attic or basement may lack the joy of decorating, but it ensures the protection and longevity of your cherished items for the seasons to come. 

As we bid farewell to another year of festive enchantment, I encourage you to dedicate a little time during the wrap-up period. Just as you invest effort in setting up your holiday décor, a thoughtful approach to the takedown will streamline next year’s process and preserve the allure of your decorations for years to come. If, like me, you seek a touch of novelty in your holiday décor, consider the art of repurposing. The mantel that adorned your fireplace this year might find a new home atop your buffet table in the next, breathing fresh life into cherished pieces and keeping the magic of the season alive.  

A quick note before I go – we take holiday decor pretty seriously around the shop and that probably shows through in the post above. I like to do it up big at home, too, but that’s because I genuinely love it. But there are times and seasons when I just don’t have the capacity or desire to do it all, and that’s OK. Sometimes the circumstances of life don’t have us feeling very festive and let’s be honest – fun and rewarding though it can be, decorating (and un-decorating) is also a lot of work. If this, for you, is less of a “tree in every room” year and more of “Charlie Brown tree” kind of year, I’m sending you extra love and hugs this holiday season. Thanks for spending a little of your year with me; no matter how you decorate or with what, I’m grateful to have you on this journey with me!  

Until next time – happy (un)decorating!