Planning the post-Christmas clear up

By Teresa Belcher

The build up to Christmas is always so busy—putting up decorations, buying gifts and preparing for a Christmas feast—that the last thing on our minds is being proactive and planning in advance for the post-Christmas clean up. Here are five simple tips to get the Christmas clear up completed in no time.

1. Dealing with the leftover food

Australian households spend over $1,026 per year on wasted food, and the festive season is a time when many people buy up big, over cater and over eat.

When your celebrations are over, you can first separate your leftover food into what can and cannot be frozen. Decide what can be used for future meals, prepare them and freeze them, making sure you label and date them before you put them in the freezer. Bubble and squeak—a dish created out of leftover roast veggies—was always a favourite with my family, but there are many more delicious recipe ideas such as curries, rosti, soups, pasta dishes and salads you can try.  

Have a look in your fridge (including the back corners) to make sure you don’t have expired foods and things that you are not going to eat. Dispose of that food in your FOGO bin, compost or feed to your worm farm. Remind members of your household to use up opened packets first, and encourage them to eat the cheese, biscuits and snacks that didn’t get finished on Christmas Day.

If you find you have multiple boxes of chocolates or biscuits that have been gifted, consider re-gifting them—just make sure you don’t re-gift back to the original gifter!

2. Sorting the decorations

Before you take down the Christmas decorations, take a photo so you can be reminded of the set up for next year, or just to have happy memories of the festive season.

Clear out any broken or unwanted Christmas decorations. Consider offering unwanted items on your local Buy Nothing group or take to a charity shop. Remember tinsel and lights do not go in your recycling bin. If your lights are broken, dispose of these responsibly through your local e-waste collection – check out Recycle Right to FindMyNearest drop-off location.

Wrapping paper can be recycled if it passes the rip test and is folded flat (not scrunched into a ball).

As you take your decorations down, store them in an ordered fashion so they are easy to access next year. Lights can be wrapped around cardboard or wrapping paper tubes to avoid getting tangled up. It’s a good idea to put like items in storage boxes and remember to label them with a permanent marker. Gather up all your leftover wrapping paper, Christmas cards and gift tags and put them safely in a spare bag or box so you know where they are in 11 months’ time. Store everything away in a dry, cool area.

3. Be creative with Christmas cards

Collect cards you received in the mail (if you still do receive any) and make a list of who sent them to you. This can be used as a thank-you list or the start of your Christmas card list for next year.

Recycle your favourite cards by cutting the images and attaching string so you can use them as use them as gift tags next year. The ones you don’t want can go in your recycling bin

4. Take care of the Christmas tree

If you decided to have a sustainable holiday season this year, you may have purchased a living Christmas tree. Tinsel and decorations can be taken off your living tree, and the pot can be placed in a suitable location over the next 11 months and continue grow and to give you joy!

If you created your own tree out of branches, twigs or other items, consider if you can store this for use next year, or whether it can go in your FOGO bin or compost bin to be recycled into compost.

If you have an existing plastic Christmas tree, pack it up carefully for storage, or consider donating it to someone else to use next year

5. Organise a donation / re-gifting box

Prepare a box where you can place things that either got replaced over the festive season (like decorations, clothes or toys) or for general items that you are ready to ‘release’ or re-gift in an effort to de-clutter. You may want to consider the “get one, toss one” rule, so for example, if you got a new hat for Christmas, you could look through your existing hats, and let go of one to be re-gifted or go to a charity shop. Or if the kids got some new toys, there may be some old ones that they no longer play with. If items are in good working order, you may want to try to sell them on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree. Alternatively, you can donate to a charity shop or gift to another person.

You may also have been given a Christmas gift that really was not to your taste. All these things can be popped aside and kept for re-gifting to someone later in the year.

However, if the item is not good enough to sell, donate or re-gift, make sure you recycle (if possible) or dispose of it correctly.

So, there are a few simple tips for a successful post-Christmas clear out. I’m sure there are other ideas that you may have, so we’d be pleased to hear your ideas as well!