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Christmas clean-up tips

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With another Christmas come and gone, it’s time to start thinking about the big cleanup. From your wrapping-paper-strewn floor, to stands of bulbs, here are some tips on how you can clean up quickly and efficiently after Christmas and make next year’s setup a snap.

Storing Christmas Lights

It never fails: your Christmas lights, which you thought you had neatly wrapped up last year, have somehow turned into a tangled mess that takes hours to unfurl. Fortunately, preventing knotted Christmas lights is pretty simple. An extension cord reel, which you can pick up at most hardware stores for a few bucks, makes it easy to put away the lights and store them tangle-free. For a DIY approach, you can also use round objects around the home — like a piece of PVC piping or paper towel tubes— as makeshift spools for you lights.

A Sticky Situation

For many people, it isn’t really Christmas without a real tree. Their looks can’t be beat and they fill the home with the scent of the season. However, these trees can also make a mess of things. If pine sap has stained your floor and other surfaces, worry not; it’s pretty easy to clean up this sticky substance. A mild solvent like Goo Gone or Citra Solv will make quick work of tree sap. If you don’t have one of these products on hand, you can also reach for rubbing alcohol, or even vodka. Because the sap is alcohol soluble, a little ethanol will quickly dissolve sap stains. Remove the remaining residue with a rag and a little warm, soapy water and you’re good to go.

Disposing of the Christmas Tree

Many cities have posted pick-up times for Christmas trees, allowing you to put them out with the trash in the first few weeks of the new year. But if you miss your window or want put your tree to use around the yard, you can use the boughs as compost. Layered in with the rest of your compost, these branches are great spacers that allow air in, hastening the decomposition process. And the tree’s trunk, stripped bare and left to season for several months, will make great kindling for the fireplace next winter.

Protect Fragile Ornaments

Egg cartons make great makeshift storage containers for smaller ornaments. You can also line boxes of ornaments with the shredded wrapping paper from Christmas morning. For larger items, you can get specially designed storage boxes that will keep your ornaments safe until next year.

Protect Decorations From Humidity and Pests

A year spent in a tightly sealed box in the attic can leave soft fabric decorations with a musty odor. To keep your decorations smelling fresh and mold-free store them with silica gel packs, the sort that come packed with new shoes, which will help keep humidity in check.

You’ll also want to make sure to discard any food-based decorations, like gingerbread ornaments or strings of popcorn, which will attract pests. To save space, you might also consider a vacuum compression bag, like Ziploc’s Space Bag, for larger items such as decorative pillows.

Keep Your Silverware Sparkling

For many people, the fancy silverware gets a lot of use in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then gets stashed away for the rest of the year. If you’re ready to pack up your finest flatware, but loathe the thought of having to polish it again next year, you’ll want to store in a tarnish-free fabric. Sold as individual pouches or bolts of cloth that you can cut to size, this cotton fabric is treated with a substance that keeps tarnish-causing gases at bay.