And just like that…the holidays are over. The busyness of the season seems to make the holiday months move a little faster than the rest. Now that all the presents are opened, guests have returned home, kiddos are back in school, and parties are over, your home is likely in need of some TLC. Here are some tips to help manage Christmas cleanup and get your home back in order for the New Year.

Sort Through Gifts

Between family, friends, co-workers, and white-elephant parties, you and your family have likely accumulated quite a few gifts over the holiday season. And while it is always “the thought that counts” and we are so grateful for each and every gift, the reality is not every gift will be a good fit for the recipient. There is no reason to let usable items sit in a closet to take up space and collect dust. Instead, sort the gifts and label them keep, return, or donate. Use this sorting exercise as way to declutter for the coming year.

KEEP ITEMS: When sorting through your keep items, take note of any items that may be replacements. For example, if you received a new knife set and you have no need for your old knife set (but it is still in good condition), consider donating it. If the older item is not in good condition, then trash it. If you received several of the same item, consider keeping only what you need and donating the others or giving them to another family member.

RETURN or EXCHANGE ITEMS: These are items that need to be returned to store, either for refund or exchange. This is a time-sensitive task that can also be time consuming. After sorting all these items out, schedule a day to travel to all the different stores and knock it out in one day instead of making several different trips.

DONATE ITEMS: Items that you will truly never use and have no sentimental attachment to can be donated. Don’t trash them or throw them in the back of your closet to sit for a couple years. Instead, donate them to a local shelter or charity. That bright, yellow toboggan you got at your company white elephant gift exchange may not be your cup of tea, but someone without shelter or heat during the winter would love it to keep their ears warm.

Properly Store Holiday Decorations

Properly storing your decorations now can save you a lot of time and headache next year. There will never be a good time BEFORE the holiday season to go through your decorations. Now is the best time! Before you start taking your decorations down, go through the decorations you didn’t use this season. Why didn’t you use them? Are they broken or worn? Trash them! Do you simply not like them anymore, but they are still in good condition? Put them in the donate pile. Quit lugging decorations that you are never going to use up and down.

Now that you have sorted through the decorations you didn’t use, it’s time to store the décor that did make it out this year. Storing your decorations in an organized way can really save you time when you get them back out. Store all your tree decorations together, your mantle decorations together, your dining room and kitchen decorations together, and so on. Glass or breakable items can be wrapped in softer items to help minimize breakage. For example, you can wrap your dining room candle stick holders in the holiday kitchen towels.

Clean the Kitchen and Pantry

The kitchen was a very popular place the last couple months. Your fridge and pantry have likely accumulated food from all the parties and guests. Sort through the perishable, time-sensitive foods first. Anything outdated or no longer edible – toss it. Anything you will not eat – toss it. Sort through the containers and toss any that you don’t want to keep or that need to be returned.

Next, tackle the non-perishables and canned goods. There is no need to start planning for next year’s Christmas dinner before this year has even really ended! Donate those extra cans of pumpkin pie filling and cream of mushroom soups to a local food pantry.

Thoroughly Clean Guest Areas

If your friends and family made use of your guest room this holiday season, it is a good idea to give that room a deep clean. Wash all the bedding in hot water. Deep clean the mattress with a portable spot cleaner that can extract dirt and grime (like dead skin cells and dandruff) from deep within. We recommend renting a Rug Doctor Pro Portable Detailer and Spot Cleaner and use with Rug Doctor Spot + Upholstery cleaning solution. This spot cleaner is designed with professional-grade suction power and has a motorized brush to help you with the scrubbing. You can also use it to deep clean the upholstery and furniture throughout your home. Find a rental location near you with our rental locator. Make sure your guests didn’t leave any clothing or personal items in the bathroom or closet and make a plan to return items if they did.

Deep Clean the Carpet and Area Rugs

Nothing makes a home feel refreshed and renewed like deep cleaning the carpets. That is the perfect feeling for starting a new year. Rug Doctor Pro Deep Carpet Cleaner deeps cleans carpets and rugs with power comparable to the truck-mounted professional systems, but costs significantly less (like $200 less)! The Pro Deep Carpet Cleaner is the best way to extract all the dirt, spills, accidents and messes of the holiday season – and all of 2021. Get it out and pour it down the toilet! Then start 2022 anew!

Rug Doctor hopes you had a magical 2021 holiday season and we wish you a prosperous and healthy New Year! We love to see you putting our machines to work. Share your post-holiday cleanup pictures on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.