The magic day has arrived. Enjoy the moment and cherish the memories. But do you dread what comes next? Try an organized approach to holiday cleanup.

A little organization helps you get the most out of new gifts.

Gather owner's manuals. These documents tend to get stuck in the nearest drawers. Label a folder for your filing cabinet to house them. If you prefer, download digital copies and trash the paper ones. One source is

Get them working. The phrase "batteries not included" is familiar in the world of Christmas toys. Take care of any required assembly and batteries. Make sure the present works while you still have the instructions at hand.

Gather receipts for items to be returned. Handle all returns in one trip if possible. A little organization on the front end makes things at the service desk go smoother.

Donate or discard old items. Much of the clutter in our lives comes from getting something new but still hanging on to the old one "just in case." When you get that new toaster oven, donate the old one. For someone, it's going to be the only one they have.

Organize those gift cards. In this post,, I provide a method for storing and reviewing your collection. The aim is to use them, not lose them. Read the post or listen to the audio. Either way, you'll thank me as you dine out.

What will you need to start the holiday season next year?While it's fresh on your mind, buy now. You'll enjoy the benefits of after-Christmas discounts.

Holiday cards — How many do you have left over for next year? How many more would you need? Get them now. Pack them away with your other Christmas items.

Christmas stationery — If you include a letter to friends with your cards, see how much letterhead is left and buy whatever you will need while it's on sale. With everything else that's going on during the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas transition, your future self will thank you for having already made some of these purchases.

Gift wrap — You have a rough idea of how many rolls you used this year. You'll likely need the same next year. Inventory what you have left, figure how much you'll need, and take advantage of the sales.

New ornaments or a new tree — What has caught your eye over the last few weeks? While it's fresh on your mind, buy now.

Pack with purpose

Label liberally — How many ornaments have their own special boxes? I wrote about my own dilemma in this post: When you figure out what goes where, label it. Next year, you'll know what's in each box before you open it. When it's time to put it away, you'll know exactly what goes where.

Avoid a tangled mess — Use cardboard strips to wind lights. Tape each end to the cardboard so lights stay in place.

Purge — We welcome new decorations. As time goes on, we run out of space to display them. Before packing it up, select the items that are older or not of as much value to you and donate them.

Red and green tubs to the rescue — Invest in large, inexpensive tubs to house decorations. A red tub with a green lid provides a clue that Christmas materials are inside. They stack nicely and keep the contents clean and secure. Put extra holiday stamps, holiday-themed return address stickers, next year’s cards, gift wrap, etc., in there.

Those newsletters — Your friends send a nice newsletter updating you on the events from the past year. Consider scanning them and discarding the original. I use Evernote. Every word is searchable, even if handwritten.

Update the Christmas card list

This week’s blog post talks about how we handle our Christmas card list. Come over to and click the “blog” link to read an expanded version of this article. It includes information on how we use Excel to help with Christmas cards year after year. You’ll also find an audio version of the article there as well.

The after-Christmas cleanup is never as much fun as the decorating that will take place 11 months from now. However, a plan will make the cleanup easier and next year’s decorating even more fun.

Frank Buck is the author of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders and was named to “Global Gurus Top 30” for 2017 and 2018 in the time management category. He speaks throughout the United States and internationally about organization and time management. You can reach Dr. Buck through his website: Follow him on Twitter @DrFrankBuck.