Today is 1st January 2010 and already Christmas seems a distant memory. The New Year is often a time for reflection and resolutions, but of course there will also be work to be done.

Traditionally in the UK the Christmas tree, Christmas cards, lights and any decorations were not dismantled until 12th night. However, as most people decorate their homes for Christmas much earlier than in the past, today could be a good day. Plenty of people start clearing away Christmas for another year as early as New Year's Eve.

I can understand this as a New Year can mean a New Start.

Whether you decide to stick to the traditional time, have already begun dismantling Christmas or will be doing so in the next few days, here is a little helpful advice.

Christmas Cards.

When you take down your Christmas cards do not simply throw them out with the rubbish.

Consider recycling what you can. If all else fails make sure that you put them with your paper recycling. Some cards will be OK to add to your compost heap. Those cards that are card and only have soft colouring should be fine. Foil and shiny cards will not be suitable.

However before you do this wait a minute.

Make an updated Christmas list of those who have sent you cards. This can save time and effort next Christmas.

Some cards will have addresses included, so now may be a good time to update your address book, also. None of this has to be a chore. Take your time, enjoy a glass of wine and a last lingering mince pie, while you do these tasks.

Use the fronts of pretty and unusual cards to make labels for next year. Simply cut off the front of cards that take your fancy and store for next Christmas. When you want to use them pierce a hole in one corner for a ribbon and trim the image neatly.

Remember to take care when you are disposing of Christmas Cards. Some may hold personal information about you or the sender. These cards may need to be shredded.

The Christmas Tree.

Many modern tree ornaments are purchased already threaded. If yours were notn and you added ribbon or the like this yearn remove the ornaments with this in tact. When you assemble the Christmas tree next year this will make the job in hand easier.

Lightly blow the dust from lights, ornaments and tinsel so that they are packed away ready for use.

Roll the lights into a tangle free ball. Make sure that the lights go in their appropriate box. This means that you will have the manufacturer's instruction to hand easily.

Consider packaging all the decorations in one large plastic box, the lights in other and so one. This means that you can label each box. Over the years you will find that you accumulate lots of Christmas decorations and it is handy to know exactly what is where.

Most tree ornaments these days are shatterproof. You should still wrap glittery ornamments in some tissue, though to protect the surface and prevent the scratching of other ornaments.

For those family treasures or ornaments that may break easily take more care.

Ideally these need to be stored in a box with dividers. If you have not kept the original packing, such a box will be easy to make.

Store all of your Christmas decorations in a cool dry place. If you use the loft make sure that the items are within easy reach for next year.

Christmas food and drink

Unless you shopped very wisely for Christmas, you will no doubt have plenty of left over food and drink.

First things first.

  • Have a good look to see what you have left over.
  • Check the use by dates on all products.
  • Most alcohol spirits such as Gin will have a long shelf life.
  • Organise your store cupboards, freezer and refridgerator so that the stores with the shortest shelf life, are at the front or the top. This will mean that you can use these first and minimise waste.
  • See what is left so that you plan some meals, recipes or baking that will utilise your stock.
  • If you know that you will not be able to use all of your stock in time ,throw an impromptu post New Year party or gift this food and drink away.
  • Make a list of what has been used and what has not. This may save you time, money and effort next Christmas. Why buy food and drink that will not be consumed?

In conlusion

Some of the above may sound a bit of a pain, but trust me it is worth the little effort involved. Dismantling Christmas with some sort of organised plan can make the job more relaxed.

On the whole it will make your preparations for next Christmas run more smoothly, should save you some money, will minimise waste and may help you have a more relaxed Christmas 2010 and the years to follow.

If you update what you learn each Christmas, in no time at all assembling and dismantling Christmas will be a streamlined event but still fun.