Staying at home for the holidays? Use some of your downtime to tackle a house project or two, and you can start 2014 with a fresher, cleaner space. Take the time to work on a project you would never usually have time for (like editing photos from the past year), get a head start on your New Year’s resolutions (by building a healthy pantry) and put away those ornaments and string lights (actually untangled for once). These eight ideas may just motivate you to put down the Christmas cookies.
Clean up your digital life. The end of the year is a good time to edit digital photo files — you get to reminisce over the past year and create room on your hard drive for the year to come. Delete the fuzzy, out-of-focus and unflattering shots right away, then narrow your collection down further by choosing to keep only the best image when you come across a bunch of very similar shots. Once that’s done, order yourself a book of your favorite snapshots from 2013.
While you’re at your computer, be sure to back up data using a cloud service or an external hard drive (or both) if you haven’t already done so. Collect all of your passwords in one secure place and clean up your virtual desktop.
Organize your book collection. Sifting through old books is sort of like going through photos — they offer a snapshot of your interests and passions at the time you read them. Work your way through your bookshelves one by one, setting aside books you no longer love in a pile to donate or sell.
Wipe down glass light fixtures. This is one of those things that’s actually pretty quick and painless to do, but that we don’t necessarily get around to very often. Use a sturdy stepladder to reach the fixture, and wipe it with a dry cloth or duster. If that doesn’t cut it, move up to a spritz of glass cleaner and another wipe with a dry, lint-free cloth. Your lights will be so sparkling and bright, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.
Organize your wardrobe. Get some new clothes for Christmas? Make room in the closet by getting rid of a few old, worn or ill-fitting pieces. Sort what’s left by type (pants, skirts etc.) and then, if you’re feeling really ambitious, by color.
Sort out the kids’ stuff. After the holidays is a great time to weed out old toys and clothes from children’s rooms, since kids tend to be more focused on the new stuff they got as gifts. For very young children, you may want to do the editing on your own; older kids should get a say. It can help if you choose a children’s charity together and learn about how the items they give away will help a child who doesn’t have new toys or clothes
Clean the kitchen from top to bottom. Has marathon cookie baking left your kitchen looking a little worse for the wear? Give it some TLC before the new year. Clean out the pantry and fridge, set your oven to self-clean, wipe down the backsplash and walls, scrub the sink and counters and, last but not least, mop the floors.
Build a healthy pantry. Is one of your new year’s resolutions to eat more healthfully? If so, take this downtime as an opportunity to set the stage for healthier eating. Look at the raw ingredients you have and consider making some healthier swaps — whole wheat for white flour, quinoa or other grains for white rice, maple or brown rice syrup for refined sugar and so on. Make some healthy meal plans and shopping lists, and store them in your pantry where you can easily access them.
Put away holiday decorations the right way. Commit to putting away holiday decor properly this year, and your future self will thank you. Wind Christmas lights around flat pieces of cardboard and stack the cardboard pieces in a box. Wrap delicate ornaments in tissue paper and pack them gently into a cardboard box (plastic can trap moisture and damage ornaments); pack less-fragile decorations in boxes with dividers meant for glassware. Old egg cartons are the perfect size and shape for storing small ornaments. Keep all of your holiday decor together, and label the boxes clearly.