Christmas is one of the most joyous times of the year. But there’s one aspect of the holiday that brings joy to few, and that is the clean up.

Things like taking down the tree, cleaning the snow-painted windows, packing away the decorations, taking down the outdoor lights and ornaments, as well as regular house cleaning, typically gets done the first week of January.

If you are dreading having to do all of this, here are several ways to make the after Christmas clean-up a little easier.

Taking Down a Real Christmas Tree

No doubt, taking down a real Christmas tree creates one of the biggest challenges for tidying up your home after the holidays. It’s had a couple of weeks or more to dry out and the needles seem to fly off the minute you touch it.

Accept the inevitable but make the problem a small one. Wrap the entire tree in plastic before making a move.

After you’ve removed all the ornaments, just wrap a large piece of thin plastic around the entire tree. If you can tip it over onto a sheet then wrapping it will be much easier.

If you would dump too many needles that way, just get a ladder and start at any point. Hold the top while someone at the bottom moves around the tree, wrapping as they go.

Make sure you dispose of a real Christmas tree properly. Check your local newspaper or look for information online to find out if you need to take it to a certain location to get rid of it, or if your city garbage collectors will pick it up on garbage collection day.

Cleaning The Windows

Many people enjoy painting decorations on their windows.

Sometimes the scene is as simple as a bit of artificial snow or ice crystals. For those with the time and talent, it may be an elaborate Christmas scene. In each case, though, the key to easy clean up is careful selection of materials beforehand.

Many types of spray-on artificial ice crystals are essentially glue. That can be very difficult to get off, requiring solvent and lots of elbow grease.

Look instead for products that can be easily washed off with simple dish soap and water.

For some types of spray-on artificial snow, the task can be made easier by using a hair dryer to warm the window. That softens the small, white particles and the adhesive that is part of them.

Then they just wipe right off with a wet towel.

Sorting Out The Fridge and Pantry

Most likely you purchased a number of food items for the holidays in preparation for large family dinners as well as parties. Perhaps you even bought extra for any surprise guests that might drop by around dinner time.

Now is the time to go through your fridge and pantry and see what items are still good and what, if any, need to be tossed out.

To ensure that you do not throw too much out, make a list of what is still good and quickly prepare some meal plans around those items for both lunch and dinners.

If you have a lot of Christmas cookies leftover and you just made them a few days ago, consider freezing them and taking them out over the next few weeks as you need them.

Cleaning The Carpets and Floors

Once the Christmas tree is out of the house and the decorations are packed away you will still find needles and tinsel on the carpet and floor. Pull out the vacuum and vacuum the floors and carpets so that these bits and pieces do not get tracked throughout your home. This is especially important if you have young children and pets.

I love Christmas decorations, especially Christmas lights. I can sit and look at them for hours. But the neat freak in me also loves a clean house with minimal furniture and knick knacks.

I love it when everything is in its place and the carpet looks like it has just been vacuumed. So cleaning up the first week of January is a big priority for me.

If you dread the clean-up and put it off as long as possible, maybe next year you should ask Santa for a gift card for a local maid service that you can book to come in for a day in January and do all of the above work for you.  How nice does that sound?