It’s not just you; families lament stress that comes with decorating for Christmas

Stock image | Photo by AntonioGuillem/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — Growing up, the day after Thanksgiving was always a massive scramble at my home.

My siblings and I, under the direction of my mom, unpacked what felt like hundreds of boxes filled to the brim with Christmas decorations to be placed in just about every room in the house, save maybe the laundry room.

By the end of the day, the house was replete with dozens of yards of evergreen garland, bright red stockings, nutcracker dolls with bushy white beards, wreaths-a-plenty, wooden reindeer, stuffed snowmen and cinnamon-scented candles.

All of this was completed before we even got around to decorating the three — yes, count them, three — Christmas trees that would eventually be coated branch-to-limb with ornaments and flashing multicolored lights.

To say the undertaking was stressful would be quite the understatement. The full-day affair would lead to a fair amount of sibling bickering and admonitions from mom and dad to “work faster.” However, we were always awarded for our efforts at the end of the day with a big feast at a family-favorite restaurant.

A Christmas tree stands packed with decorations in the home of the author of this story’s parents in Utah, December 2017 | Photo courtesy of Lisa Witham, St. George News

As it turns out, my family is hardly alone when it comes to the stress that surrounds holiday decorating. An 2018 survey of hundreds of people commissioned by the company Units Moving and Portable Storage reveals that decking the halls is often a major source of anxiety.

The online survey of 502 Americans (273 women, 229 men) reveals more than three-quarters of respondents decorate for two or more holidays a year, with Christmas/Hanukkah being the leading decorating holidays. But almost one-quarter of the respondents say decorating can make the festivities fraught with family friction.

Survey findings

  • More than 1 out of 3 stress out from holiday decorating.
  • More than 1 out of 3 say the pressure to decorate takes away from the fun.
  • Almost one-half say holiday decorating is more about competition among neighbors than holiday spirit.
  • Almost one-quarter say there’s a must-see house in the neighborhood that attracts unwanted attention and traffic.
  • Almost one-third say they could use a break from decorating — a “Decoration Vacation!”

Sources of family friction

  • About half say their partner wants to spend more on decorations than they do.
  • One-quarter say they feel pressure to do all the decorating by themselves.
  • Almost 1 out of 3 say the kids don’t help enough with holiday decorating.

Among the greatest sources of anxiety in the survey is fear of the dreadful day when the decorations must come down. Nearly three-quarters of those stressed by decorating in the survey say the biggest burden is taking down the decorations and storing them. According to the survey, some of the associated stressors of storing away the holiday cheer are as follows:

  • One-third say they have too many holiday decorations and another third have more than they can manage.
  • Almost one-half say storing awkwardly shaped decorations is the biggest challenge, with Christmas trees the most difficult to store.
  • About half say they don’t have enough room for decorations, with one-third saying decorations take up too much space in their homes.

“Holiday decorating should be joyful, but we have seen it cause too much unnecessary stress, especially because people have no place to store their decorations or don’t know how to pack them properly,” Units Moving and Portable Storage CEO Michael McAlhany said in a press release.

I can certainly attest to this fact. In my youth, the Christmas decorations would be stuffed in boxes in closets throughout the house. The boxes had a penchant for tumbling down on anyone who dared open said closets.

These days, my parents have an entire room and outdoor shed dedicated to holiday decoration storage, which makes the logistics of “decoration day zero” slightly less daunting.

But for those who don’t have an extra room in the house to spare, Units Moving and Portable Storage offers the following “holiday decoration storage hacks.”

  • For large ornaments, consider gluing plastic cups to cardboard to make a storage rack.
  • Stack rolls of wrapping paper in garment bags, shoe racks or a wastebasket.
  • Use take-out containers for ribbons and bows.
  • Stuff cords in paper towel holders and label with gift labels.
  • Wrap lights around pieces of cardboard.
  • Store wreaths on hangers in a closet.
  • Use old stockings to protect Christmas candles.
  • Repurpose old linens to safely store nativity scenes or Christmas villages.
  • Consider using magazine racks to organize holiday gift bags.

Here’s wishing you the most stress-free holiday season possible!

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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