Traditionally, our family commences The Great Christmas Undecorating during the Epiphany weekend, which quickly follows on the heels of the holiday season.

What’s not an epiphany is that our home’s three wise men and I always get that unavoidably bittersweet feeling taking down ornaments and lights.

Our tree, which began its stay at the Cote house rather tumultuously, even turned out to be a good one, proudly displaying our mash-up of new and old ornaments among its branches.

My husband carried out the behemoth evergreen, leaving a trail of needles as the kiddos and I looked on. They looked up at me with a sigh as if to say, “What now?”

What now, indeed.

January’s funny like that.

It kicks off with a confetti of promise of good things to come, party favors and doing ourselves favors of making resolutions.

But so it seems moments after the last celebratory sparkle’s fallen, we adjust to the stilldark, sighing as we step off our Christmas figgy pudding high and stash away our festive lights and decorations until next time.

January doesn’t have to be that way, that frigid epilogue.

This month actually gives us an opportunity for fun, a creative winter festival transformed from otherwise spring fever doldrums.

To begin with, don’t just take down your Christmas decorations, replace the space with something creative and fun.

This year my husband, kiddos and I decided to take the year’s start into our own hands.

The very day we disassembled our tree, we cranked Disney tunes and hummed merrily as we put our scrapbooking scissors to work and made several paper snowflakes.

We displayed white ones in the windows, and made a colorful construction paper concoction to add festive winter flair to our kitchen cabinets.

No two children are alike; nor are two snowflakes, after all.

Next, we took full advantage of our newly vacant living room sans tree and had a tentout.

We took the weekend following New Year’s Day to ring in some camping fun – indoorstyle .

We made tacos while our 4-year-old selected a movie; he prepared the inside of the tent with blankets and pillows while my husband and I gathered what we could to improvise s’mores.

We still had a leftover summer stockpile of graham crackers and marshmallows– to toast over a candle, of course– but to our dismay, our Hershey’s chocolate stash was long-depleted. What to do? I peered to our collection of Christmas goodies and realized that when life gives you chocolate Santas, you gotta make s’mores.

And so our makeshift treats were made, complete with crushed peppermint from our surplus candy canes to top the gooey marshmallow.

It was our winter touch to a typically summertime treat, capped with hot cocoas as we continued to watch our movie from the comfort of our tent’s cozy blankets and pillows.

Our indoor tent-out was a success, a fantastic activity to kick off the new year and remind us there’s still much fun to be had despite the dreary weather outdoors.

Our multicolored snowflakes amid our indoor decor and peppermint-y s’mores helped put a fun winter-fest spin on an activity usually saved for summer.

Why limit these fun snacks to a fraction of the calendar year? Sleeping indoors, we heard no wild animals, but we weren’t short of the sounds of giggling excited kids.

It just goes to show that the Christmas season may be behind us, but we’re still laughing all the way.

So when you pack up your decorations, unpack your summer gear.

You may be surprised at what can be adapted to indoor activities. The light may be incandescent, but the laughter and memories made will be just as genuine as if you were having an outdoor adventure.

Make indoor camp-outs and creativity a new tradition.

Take advantage of the space left behind when your tree’s down and put your tent up.

— Michelle Cote is the art director of the Journal Tribune. She enjoys cooking, baking, and living room dance-offs with her husband, two boys and a dog. She can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: