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Taking Down Holiday Decorations


"How long is it reasonable to leave up holiday decorations? My mother is refusing to put any away. She says it took a lot of work to set them up, and she wants to enjoy them for a while. Last year I was putting her decorations away in March! It looks ridiculous. Last year she even turned on the outside lights in February! Do I gradually sneak them into storage? I need to give her the social rule and your column." - READER



I sincerely hope that holiday decorations are the only caregiving challenge you face because that would mean you are blessed. It is a minor issue, yet can seem a bit odd come February when the outside lights are lit each night - not to mention the cost of extra electricity. That being said, by the end of that month you may have neighbors and friends wondering about your health, as you are then outside of the norm enough to give others concern.

I do not believe there is any rule about decorations coming down except for cut greens like trees or branches that will dry out. A well-watered tree can be maintained for a month, though it needs to be watched for brittle needles and taken down when the needles become stiff and fall easily from the tree.

The tradition among Christians is to keep decorations up until after the "Epiphany," January 7th. So if there is a rule of thumb for holiday decorations I would use the weekend after January 7th. If it takes a bit longer to get everything put away, so be it. I do not believe that anyone really cares.

I do see some people leave outside lights and wreaths up until spring. I have always thought that it was a weather-related reason. Some leave them up all year long. What one does not see is outside lights, used as holiday decorations, turned on after mid-January.

I recommend you share with mother my comments and together set a date for storage. Start by removing any fresh or cut greens, such as a tree. Then set a date to stop turning on outside lights. Finally set a goal date to have everything in storage. It is okay to hang on a bit. Not everyone takes down their tree the day after Christmas. While waiting until March is holding on a bit long.

I wish you well on your cleanup journey.


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