You have jingled your last bell, rocked around your final Christmas tree, and made your last poor life choice that could feasibly be blamed on overly potent eggnog — so the Christmas season is officially over. And yet, your home is still chock full of Christmas things — things you spent weeks painstakingly crafting, or things that you spent lots of money buying; things that you are now preparing to throw out in order to make room for New Year's decorations/ Lunar New Year's decorations/ Valentine's Day decorations/ the nest of soft blankets that you use as part of your slow slide into seasonal depression.
But there's no reason to let all your Christmas goods end up in a landfill, just because you won't hear "All I Want for Christmas Is You" for another eight to nine months. Your favorite Christmas decorations and snacks can easily be repurposed into decorations and snacks that carry no seasonal baggage, and will make you feel all crafty and Martha Stewart-like (or, at the very least, Blake Lively-like). Revamping your Christmas leftovers into non-Christmas decor is fun, thrifty, and a decent way to kill time until all your favorite TV shows come back from winter hiatus, so what are you even waiting for? Use your last few days of winter break to learn how to make eggnog pancakes, tinsel disco balls, pine needle gardening mulch, and more from your holiday leftovers. Hey, it's better than fighting with your parents about why you won't just go to law school like your sister!
So you bought 15 cartons of eggnog for your Christmas party, and now that the party's over, find yourself stuck with 14 cartons of eggnog. Hey, eggnog is great, but people can only drink so many cups of what is essentially melted ice cream in one sitting, right?
Luckily, there are many delicious ways to repurpose your 'nog in the coming days: if you have an espresso machine, you can make your own Starbucks-style frothy eggnog latte (which I did this morning, and yes, it was even more delicious than a Starbucks one because I didn't have put pants on to get it). And even if you don't have an espresso machine, you can still make pretty damned good eggnog coffee using regular coffee, eggnog, and cream. Eggnog pancakes and eggnog French toast make natural usage of the fact that eggnog is pretty much just cake batter — swap it out for the milk in your usual recipe. And baking pastries with eggnog, like eggnog cinnamon rolls and dark chocolate chunk eggnog cookies, are a great option for those of you who are concerned that you may have not consumed enough sugar this holiday season.
What do you do with your extra gingerbread houses? Eat 'em, you fool! But if the idea of taking a giant bite out of a tiny house while watching Netflix does not quite compute for you, you can smash up your gingerbread house and use the crumbs as an ice cream/ cake topping. This, of course, goes for gingerbread houses that are only held together with frosting and other edible yumminess; not the ones your niece made at school with Elmer's glue and a milk carton.
So this year you bought enough tinsel to make your Christmas tree look like RuPaul's acid flashback — but what the hell are you going to do with it now? Tinsel can serve as a crucial ingredient for a flashy New Year's party centerpiece, or turn a paper lantern into a tinsel disco ball appropriate for year-round glamour and vogueing. But if you have pets, your best bet is just trashing the tinsel as soon as you can — tinsel is dangerous for pets, and can sometimes even kill them.
Paper that you buy just to immediately throw out? Wrapping paper, you are one of the great tricks of capitalism! But there are a few things you can do to repurpose the paper you bought to spice up that crappy Secret Santa gift. Wrapping paper that isn't wildly tacky (or maybe even wrapping paper that is wildly tacky) can make a good DIY photo mat background when framing a photo, line a drink tray or drawer, or cover a school book. If your used wrapping paper isn't in good enough condition to be saved for reuse next year, cut it up to use as New Year's Eve confetti and streamers, or shred it to use as packing material for shipping or storing something delicate.
And depending on the size of the cardboard tube the paper came on, you might be able to use it to store posters (say, if you're still in college, and need to transport that old-timey French liquor poster back and forth with you every year). And here's a trick from Martha Stewart herself: the key to making used wrapping paper look new for a second use is ironing it on low and then storing it (make sure that the paper doesn't catch on fire while you iron it, obvi).
Nothing turns from a source of joy and merriment into a burden/ eyesore/ fire hazard faster than a Christmas tree — so figuring out what to do with yours ASAP is pretty important. In most of the country, you can leave your Christmas tree curbside for garbage pick-up in the weeks following Christmas, and many areas have creative Christmas tree recycling programs that use the wood for natural conservation projects. But if you're feeling extra crafty, you can make some pretty neat thing from parts of your tree before you send it to the big Christmas tree lot in the sky. You can use pine tree needles as garden mulch, or turn them into piney-fresh sachets. Or, if you're really desperate for a way to kill time between now and Bonnaroo, you can turn your old Christmas tree into a didgeridoo.
Anyone who's lived in a college dorm can tell you that Christmas lights hung year-round can give any room that certain "let's get comfy and share this bottle of $3 blackberry schnapps that I got an R.A. to buy for me" ambiance. But Christmas string lights can still serve as a lovely home decorating touch for those of us old enough to buy our own booze, too. You can pair them with a canvas to make a DIY light-up constellation map, wrap them around the edges of a mirror to create a light-up vanity, or, if you have a back porch, string them up back there for a softer look than traditional outdoor lamps. Or hey, you could use them to do some "college dorm sex" role playing. I'm just saying, January is a looooong month — you gotta figure out some way to stay warm after all the eggnog has run out, friend.