Ask the Audience: Undecking the Halls

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Heather says:

Hey there, Home Eccers, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. While we put off cleaning up the mess and trying to find homes for the new toys and knick knacks I’d like to know, when do you take down your lights and decorations?

I like to wait the full 12 days of Christmas. This was especially important when I lived in Minnesota and it felt like putting away the decorations meant settling in for the long, dark, and dreary wait for Spring. If my husband had his way, the tree would be down before bedtime tonight. However I’m the one who actually performs the task, so he just has to suffer with pretty for a few more days.

So, how is it done in your house?

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30 thoughts on “Ask the Audience: Undecking the Halls”

  1. Usually I’d wait until after New Year’s Day. But we didn’t get out any lights, this year. I brought home a fern type live plant, for a tree, and while I lay coughing, at 5pm, on Christmas Eve, it dawned on me that we never got out stockings! *sigh*

    I say stay pretty as long as possible.. to shorten the pause between pretty and pretty flowers of spring. 🙂

  2. We don’t take down the decorations and lights until after January 6th. January 6th is the day the three kings come and give gifts to the baby Jesus. And since my mother is from Spain and that is the day they celebrate gift giving there, we don’t finish the holidays until after that day. Pretty late for most people, huh?

  3. Generally, I wait until the day after New Year’s Day. This year though, we’re moving on the 15th of January, so I decided to take them down today so that I can get to packing and organizing the house.

  4. Our decorations were really minimal this year since there are no kids at home and the neighbor has so many lights up that I’m surprised he hasn’t set his house on fire. (No spirit of competition here.) I did a small display of gifts and cards, and staged a BUNCH of candles around the wood stove so that there would be light in that area even when it is too warm to light the stove (which it was this year; sorry for all of y’all freezing up north, we had 75 degrees in Austin).

    My lifelong strategy has been to start decorating at Thanksgiving by putting up the exterior lights and getting everything else staged. The first weekend in December everything goes up and the lights are turned on. After the presents are cleared away, the base of the tree gets decorated with something – poinsettias, random strings of lights, bows, whatever looks OK in a space-filling drift to cover the bare skirt. Any decoration that gets dried out or tired looking gets thrown out or put away as soon as it’s appeal has faded so there aren’t any “downers” visible.

    The aftermath of New Year’s usually involves a clean-up anyway, so that’s when the tree and decorations get taken down in earnest. The exterior lights are turned off after the first weekend of the new year, and taken down before the end of January, weather permitting. But the important thing there is OFF. It drives me crazy to see people still lighting their holiday lights in February and March. I’ll buy any excuse as to why the lights aren’t down, but only laziness explains not flipping a switch or disconnecting a plug.

    To combat the winter doldrums, I typically buy a few new plants after the holidays – norfolk pines and mini-roses typically go on sale after the holidays (both can be planted outdoors come spring) and sometimes you can find early cyclamen. I like to force hyacinths, too, because of their scent. Christmas lights in large clear containers (jars, pitchers, etc.) are also a good way to brighten a winter-darkened home.

  5. Normally I do it on New Years Day, but I am really leaning towards as soon as possible this year. Had planned on starting today, but Hubby is home and he can’t stand to stay home, so we have been running errands all day. We are getting ready to redo a bathroom so we went and got the paint and looked at tile and ate breakfast and lunch, and just got home. I am going to strip wall paper this evening, and may put up the nick knack decorations during my breaks from that. While he takes out the cabinet, and toilet, I am going to definitely start on the rest of the house.

    It seems the older I get, the lesser I decorate, and the sooner it gets on my nerves. The tree looks so sad without presents under it (at least wrapped ones. The unwrapped ones are going to be put away tonight or else.)

    I will leave the nativity up until the first, depending on the weather. It was 57 today. If it’s going to drop into the teens after the new year, I will go ahead and take them down. IT’s so wet out there right now, I’d have to swim to them.

    But I have had mine out since Thanksgiving, so they are growing a little tiresome. 🙂

    I take down all my family photos to put up Christmas and I admit I am missing my ancestors. 🙂 But I definitely want it all down and packed away by the 5th because I have to go back to work.

  6. Well, my decorations were a bit sparse this year so it was not really at all much, but usually we take our decorations by January 6th – as it has always been the tradition in our my household growing up…as with Araceli – my great-grandparents are from Toledo, Spain and brought to Philippines. So this year, since there really isn’t much, will let it be pretty until January 6th and then put away afterwards. 🙂

  7. We normally leave it all up until Jan 1 because I like the house all decorated for our New Year’s Eve party. But my husband is a HUGE help when putting it all away & he has to work Jan 1, so no party & probably put it all away before then.

  8. I do love the holidays, but once Christmas is over, I feel like it’s over!

    Leaving a Christmas tree out for a few days seems too much like leaving dirty dishes in my sink!

    My decorations were packed up just as soon as I got in from boxing day shopping.

  9. My mother said it was bad luck to have Christmas decorations on New Years’ Day, so we has to take everything down on New Years’ Eve.

    I never thought it was bad luck, but I follow her example because it’s nearly a week after Christmas, and it’s kind of an “out with the old” thing for the new year, and it’s not lingering around.

  10. I grew up in the South and we always did the “undecking” on New Year’s Eve (in the afternoon).

    This year we went a little nuts with both indoor and outdoor decorations. I will probably take down the outdoor decorations over the weekend and then take down all the indoor decorations on the 30th and 31st. The tree will be the last thing to go….as it is my favorite.

    I have really enjoyed our tree this year and I am going to be sad not to have it keeping me company on my late nights doing the cakes……(sigh).

    Christmas comes and goes so quickly!!

  11. Like many others, our family celebrates the 12 days of Christmas (Dec. 25 to Jan. 5) and the Epiphany/Feast of the the 3 Kings on Jan. 6th.
    So for us, we don’t put Christmas decorations or tree up until nearly Christmas (usually around the 20th). And we take them down after the 6th, when we’re able.
    I love the 12 days, in part because it is so out of sync with the secular celebration of Christmas ….. which seems to start these days before Thanksgiving and ends with a bang on the 25th! I love the slower pace, the quiet, the chance to visit with family and friends in the week between Christmas and New Year. When the kids were at home, it was a time of baking and playing games and sled riding, and visiting grandparents. Now that they’re mostly grown, they come and go, and we invite friends over for a quiet supper and evening of cards and laughter.
    Keeping the tree and decorations up makes all that seem festive in a different, less frantic way for us.

  12. My birthday is Dec. 12 and my mom wanted to keep it separate from Christmas so always waited until the 13th to put them up. When my oldest was born on the 11th, we decided to continue the tradition. And then our middle son was born the 26th. So… they go up sometime after the 13th and come down Christmas night. Needless to say, we don’t do a lot of decorating! Last night it took the 5 of us less than 20 minutes to get everything put away. :o)

  13. I’m with Vera on this one. I’ve always been told its bad luck to have Christmas decor up on New Years day. I always dread taking down and packing everything away though. Maybe its my lazy side…who knows.

    I was ready to chuck the tree out the door-ornaments and all about 2 weeks ago. My toddler has strong hatred toward Christmas tree decor. Either that or he just likes to see how many items he can hide from mommy. It’s been…umm…interesting this year.

  14. I normally take mine down Jan 2nd, sometimes earlier if the tree is really falling apart, but since we often entertain through the New Year I think it’s nice to still have the decorations up. 🙂

  15. I’d always heard that the tree and stuff should be down by Jan 5 or it’s bad luck. I’m usually lazy and don’t get it down even by then, but I think it’s happening early this year.

  16. Well,
    I cleaned the curios, and put away all the nativities (yes, there were lots) and got all the knick knack type ornaments put away. Today Hubby is getting the powder room ready to paint (my job) and I am going to have DS bring down the boxes for the tree. The girls were looking forward to taking it down, so I may do that tonight with them. THe outside stuff can stay up until at least it stops raining, which may be June. LOL

    Today is garbage day, so I wanted as much stuff on the curb as possible, so we all pitched in and got stuff put away and I deluttered some stuff I no longer used.

    Like Trixie, I am counting down the days until Spring. I want to do some cleaning while I am off, like curtains, and windows, and it’s just easier to do those without decorations to contend with.

    Thanks for the kick in the butt. I was feeling guilty about wanting to start so soon, so I am glad to see others are starting early too.

  17. I’m with Trixie in that I’m in the mood to start Spring cleaning as soon as Christmas is over. We’ll be taking ours down this afternoon, or tomorrow at the latest. I want my “normal” house back. LOL!

  18. Hello!

    Well, it looks like I’m in the minority here — I like to take the tree down early. Sometimes even on Christmas night. Here’s why:

    1. It just seems wierd to leave the tree and decorations up after the holiday, it’s a let down somehow. I’m like that with all holidays. Although I really enjoy holidays, once the occassion is over, it’s time to pack up.

    2. Here in Michigan, once Christmas is past, it is a long, cold haul until spring. I like to kid myself into thinking March means Spring in our area. It doesn’t, but it makes me feel better to delude myself. Anyway– I like to past that time in a frenzy of cleaning and organizing and I usually begin doing this the day after Christmas. It’s much easier to accomplish this and to begin thinking “Spring” without Christmas decorations up.

    Take Care,


  19. Checking back in. Tree is down, and in the attic. Ornaments are put away, but lights are in the Living Room. I am washing the tree skirt. It’s about 8 years old and if it doesn’t survive, I will buy a new one, but it had to be washed.

    Hubby offered to take down the outside stuff, but I told him it could wait. I need to check the weather report to see when it needs to come down, but if he’s still working in the powder room tomorrow, I may start on getting it taken down and put away as well.

    I never realized how messy Christmas can be. Seems I have been cleaning non-stop since Christmas afternoon. I don’t think I have ever taken out so much trash.
    But the house is slowly turning back into my normal clean organized house, so I guess it’s worth the effort.

    I did buy a plant today at Lowe’s to force spring around here. I could use the color. 🙂
    Hubby still needs to make a few trips to the attic to put away some boxes, but by tomorrow the inside Christmas should be all put away. This is the earliest I have ever done it, and I thought I would feel like Scrooge, but instead I feel relaxed and content.

  20. One year we ran short of funds, and couldn’t buy any gifts until AFTER Christmas. We celebrated the Epiphany that year and the kids STILL talk about it. Now we have to do something then! I keep my decorations up until then.

    (Epiphany is at the end of the 12 days of Christmas, and is Jan. 6)

  21. We only had a small tree…and I had it put away by Friday afternoon. Of course we have a big bag of gifts that need to go to people that are farther away still..but thats the only evidence that it was a holiday around here. We aren’t all that into most holidays really, so its no biggie to take everything…you know the whole prelit 4′ tree…down.

  22. I used to wait until Jan. !st. We usually have company over on the first. However, the older I get, the more impatient I am to get it down right after Christmas. I always want to get a fresh start on the new year. I also don’t like to keep the task of putting it away hanging over my head. It seems that if I wait too long to do it, it can actually be a little depressing to me. But, if I take it down while some holiday stuff is still up around town, it doesn’t bother me.

  23. We usually leave our decorations up until after the kids go back to school. That was we all get to enjoy the decorations and tree after Christmas when we’re finally home to see them. This year we had a chimney fire the week before Christmas and had to have the entire room cleaned professionally, including every tree ornmament! God Bless the gentlemen who patiently cleaned all 350 of them.

  24. Tonight I am enjoying the 12th Night and tomorrow I’ll sit by the tree for breakfast and then take everything down and pack it away. Someone earlier posted they like the length of waiting until Epiphany and I agree. It all seems so hurried when it ends abruptly on the 25th. Original plans were for a bonfire but we are dry and under a burn ban. And all my friends are sick. So tonight it is only me. But who matters more than me to me?

    I also like using lights around the house as the year goes on. I have a very tall old mason type jar in my bathroom that is stuffed with a strand of purple lights. This year I hung a strand behind both of my sheers at the ends of my windows and I’m very tempted to leave those up all year as well. They are making awesome nightlights.

  25. My decorations always stay up until January 6th. After that, they slowly start coming down. It usually takes me at least a week to get everthing down and packed away. I have 30 years of ornaments and decorations. It takes a while to pack them all away so they will be safe throughout the year.

    I appreciate the idea of a clean start to the new year but I do like to have the Christmas season last as long as possible. I hope to have it all down and away by next Monday.

  26. We leave our tree up until Little Christmas, which is January 7th. So our tree and decorations will start coming down sometime after the 7th. They stay out such a short time, I am never in a rush to put everything away.


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