Cleaning up after Christmas

Christmas bon bon

Jenna Meade

Posted December 17, 2021

Don’t let your holiday season be ruined by hours of housekeeping.

Christmas is a time to gather with family and friends, and while it’s great to celebrate together, your guests can leave your home looking like a garbage tip – and you feeling like the Grinch.

From mounds of leftover foods solidifying on plates, to tinsel forming tumbleweeds, Boxing Day can quickly transform from a day of relaxation to a day of back-breaking cleaning.

With a little pre-planning and some handy cleaning hints, you can tidy and declutter your home in time for your new year celebrations. Fuel up with a few slices of ham - because that’s a decluttering task, too - and work your way through our Christmas clean-up list.

Christmas cleaning essentials


Will your fridge be overflowing with leftovers? Set aside what your household will comfortably consume in the next few days, then freeze what you can in portions. Sliced ham can be frozen for up to a month, and Christmas turkey breast for about six months. Dividing up the remaining desserts is a piece of cake, too. Christmas cake can be frozen for about three months, and plum pudding for up to a year. 


Think ahead when you’re packing down your Christmas tree and decorations. While it may be tempting to cram them all in the box and move on to the next task, your future-self will thank you for taking your time. Use the empty tubes from your wrapping paper to wrap your Christmas lights, store the plug in the tube’s opening, and use empty egg cartons to store ornaments.

Do a clean-up as you go, mending or discarding any broken decorations. Real trees can be mulched for the garden, or check with your local council to see if they offer free curbside Christmas tree collection. Artificial Christmas trees, tinsel, and most ornaments are not recyclable, so don’t throw them away. Instead, either save them for next year, or keep them for an arts and crafts session with the kids.


Christmas present

Pass excess or unneeded items on to loved ones, or donate them. 


From wrapping paper and gift boxes to bonbons and cards, it’s easy to accumulate a pile of paper over the holiday season. Starting out sustainably sets you up for recycling success. Choose recyclable papers and cardboard to pretty up your presents, steering away from the non-recyclable foil and plastic wrapping.

Cellulose cellophane, which tears, is biodegradable and can be put in your compost. Plastic cellophane, which stretches but doesn’t tear, can be recycled as soft plastic at a collection point.


You’ll likely be left with a mountain of mess by Boxing Day. While washing dishes and quickly treating spill stains as you go will help, it’s best to enjoy the festivities and save most of the mess for a good once-over after your guests leave. Clean from the top down and give your home a dust, vacuum, and mop before rearranging everything back to its usual place. Get the family involved and divide up the tasks, put on some good music, and turn a chore into a party. ‘Tis the season for your oven to get a good workout, too, so don’t forget to add that to the cleaning list. 


Scored a few new items this festive season? Now’s a good chance to get rid of the old. Rather than accumulating multiple items, take stock of what you no longer need. Pass excess or unneeded items on to loved ones or donate them. Get little ones involved, too. For each new toy, allocate one to either donate or store for future rotation.

Regifting is a divisive topic. If you’re more inclined to pass the parcel, keep in mind that generic items like bottles of wine and boxed chocolates are easily reallocated, whereas more personal items are not. Also note down who gave you the gift, and be sure to regift well away from that social circle.