Since Christmas is upon us and only 2 days away, it’s time to start thinking about how we are going to be organizing decorations that we put away after the holidays. This year, we’ve compiled the best tips from top experts in their field, that, with their tips and some preparation you can save yourselves time and heartache (of damaged keepsakes) in the coming years.
One thing new we did this year was to get decorative storage boxes. What is great about these, we can put them under the tree since it looks like a wrapped gift. When Christmas is over, we fill with our decor! So easy!
Top Tips For Organizing Decorations
Kate Windleton, Relocations manager at Strong Move provided some tips as an experienced professional.
I want to start by listing some of the reasons why it’s important to pack and store all Christmas decorations properly and what can happen if you don’t.
- Tangled and burnt lights are the least to worry about if you don’t pack all decorations well.
- Ceramic figurines and ornaments, glass ornaments, and other fragile decoration pieces may get broken, chipped or crushed if you don’t pack and store them the right way.
- Tinsels and garlands can also get tangled and torn when unpacking them for the next year.
And here are my tips to prevent such mishaps:
- Buy a Christmas tree bag. It allows you to even pack your tree fully decorated. You can find them in many stores.
- Keep the ornaments’ original boxes.
- If you don’t have the original boxes, use a lot of padding to keep them safe.
- Use plastic boxes instead of cardboard ones. The cardboard boxes are easily crushed by something heavy, infested by pests and also get worn out just as time passes.
Bonus tip: Use items such as Pringles or coffee cans, or similar items to wrap tinsels, lights, garlands around them. This will prevent entanglement and damage to the lights.
Michael Helwig, an Interior Designer, https://www.michaelhelwiginteriors.com, in Buffalo, NY, that offers online interior e-design services for small spaces that range from coaching, product sourcing and selection all the way to full room plans with installation guidance. Michael wants to share his experience in the world of home decorating and design to help folks avoid expensive mistakes and decorating disappointments.
Staying organized year to year is the best way to avoid unnecessary stress when decorating your home for Christmas. Nobody wants to hunt for the tools you need when it’s time to put up the tree and decorations.
Tip number 1: I keep my decorating tools organized in a tool box with compartments . Things like scissors, tape, floral wire, wire cutters, hammers, nails, command strips, zip ties and ornament hooks are in my tool box. It’s specific to just holiday decor and I know everything I will need to make the holiday magic happen is in one place. I also keep all my extension cords and timers in the bottom of the tool box so I don’t have hint those down eiter. I find that a tool box or fishing tackle box works well for this because of the little compartments that stack neatly inside of them. Everything is right at hand and plainly visible – no digging through a mess or looking in 12 different places for the things you need.
Tip number 2: Use clear bins for your decorations. I like to color coordinate my Christmas ornaments in clear bins because I can easily see them. I use the same size and style of bins so they can be stacked securely in my attic. I take the extra time to label the bins so that the ornaments go back in the same bin year after year. I change the color theme of my decorations each year and being able to have all my stuff color organized is a huge time saver when I put my decorations up. All of the shatter-proof ornaments are in the bins loose. I will place my breakable ornaments on one side of the bin, wrapped in tissue paper and segmented by a piece of cut cardboard. My small breakable ornaments go in egg crates that I label and stack one on top of the other on that side of the crate as well.
Tip number 3: Christmas tree storage. I immediately recycle the cardboard box the Christmas tree comes in. I have a few trees that I use for my holiday decor depending on my decorating scheme. The best storage box I’ve found is the from Dewalt.It’s a 40 gallon tote with lid. It’s about 4.5′ long and 2.5′ deep. It’s a great crate that has a lid that comes all the way off and a 7 to 9′ tree fits easily in 3 segments inside. The lid fits securely on top and is hinged in place by a few clips for a nice tight seal. It has a built in handle and wheels on one side to make it easy to roll instead of carry. I have 3 trees that I rotate for my decorating schemes year after year and I love these because they stack neatly on top of each other. I found them at the Home Depot for about $40.00 each.
Julie Brooks, a Certified Professional Organizer (a credential held by fewer than 10% of professional organizers) and owner ofPeaceful Place Organizers, based in eastern MA,
offers a holiday decor pack away service and shares some top tips which can help people feel great about both packing and unpacking their holiday decorations each year.
Since holiday decor is usually stored in basements or attics, containerization and moisture defense is key. Aim for containerizing everything – the amount you spend on containers is off set by not having to replace items which get ruined due to mildew. Put dessicant packs or dryer sheets in every container. Label each container with index cards secured by shipping tape.
Lights must be rolled around a piece of cardboard or on light storage spools – no excuse not to do this, it takes 5 minutes. Upcycle all those Amazon boxes!
Artificial tree storage: Invest in buying the right size bag, there are many available. Or, use a new plastic trash bin with a lid.
Take photos of your decor after it is set up. Print the pictures and then pack those away when the decor so you remember where everything goes when you set it up next year.
Stephanie Seferian, host of The Sustainable Minimalists podcast, where she blogs and podcasts weekly on the subjects of minimalism, sustainability, low-waste living and slow parenting and has been featured in NBC News, Reader’s Digest and many more, shares her tips:
When it comes to repacking holiday decorations, there’s no need to purchase expensive organization systems or other fancy contraptions. Instead, the holidays provide excellent opportunities for reuse. Here are 4 ways I clean up after Christmas:
– When opening presents, I reserve the crumpled (but not ripped) tissue paper. Later, I wrap each fragile ornament in at least two pieces of this paper before placing them in a reused present box. Although it often requires at least 5 boxes to contain all my ornaments, I’ve never had one break. For very special or expensive decorations, I make sure to keep the item’s original packaging for optimal preservation year after year.
– When it comes to disposing of my real Christmas trees and greenery, the most eco-friendly option is to compost it in your backyard. (The least green option, conversely, would be to put it on the curb for trash pick up.) For readers who don’t compost, they can inquire whether their city or town offers Christmas tree composing services.
– Lights on the Christmas tree not working? Instead of throwing them in the trash, I bring them to my local Ace Hardware for responsible recycling.
– Finally, as I repack the Christmas decorations, I always take a hard look at the items I opted to not put out that year. Oftentimes my family grows out of certain decor items; in these instances it’s best to let them go, because organization is easiest when I hold onto less stuff.
(A note here on donating holiday items: donating decor to Goodwill or the Salvation Army in January is not ideal, and that’s because consumers generally do not purchase Christmas decorations in January. Instead, I put the items I want to donate aside and put a note on the bag reminding me to drop it off at my local donation center in October of the following year.)
Bryan Stoddard, from the website Homewares Insider, wanted to chime in on how to organize ornaments:
Between Christmas seasons my ornaments and decorations and safely stored in the attic. Usually, I use carton boxes that I prepare and wrap the insides with protective paper. After the decorations are safely stored I seal the box with a cardboard lid.
As for the way I organize different ornaments, I try to store them in a way that will make it easier to take them out and assemble them during the next year.
I have a separate container for Christmas lights, they are neatly placed in the box and marked so I know what’s in the box.
Other Christmas decorations I organize by size and shape. Large and round ornaments go into the same box as round and small ornaments, but they are separated by a cardboard “wall”. Other more angular decorations I place in a separate box.
How do you store a fake tree?
The easiest way is just to use the packaging of the fake tree you bought. It will be made for the exact dimensions of your tree, and it’s usually made sturdy enough to protect the tree inside.
What is the best way to get rid of your real tree/greenery?
The best way to use real trees and greenery is to buy a tree with the roots still attached. This way, once the holiday season is over you can replant the tree. With some luck, it will take into the new ground, and you’ll be left with a beautiful addition in your yard.
If that’s not an option, try to give away the living tree, so that someone else might replant it.
If you opt-out for a tree without roots, it’s best to follow your local guidelines when disposing of it. There will surely be a prepared place for all disregarded trees after the holidays.
Homewares Insider explores all things related to homes, interior design, furniture, and gardening. I’m also a passionate home designer that loves to tinker with DIY, design and organizing schemes.
Liz Jenkins, Certified Professional Organizer and owner of A Fresh Space in Nashville, TN, specializes in helping people in their homes or small businesses get organized so they can be more effective, productive and functional since 2005. In addition, Liz and her amazing team of organizers provide move management services with decluttering, home styling and full service unpacking. Liz offers these tips to help:
- Bring in folding tables, tarps to protect floors & furniture and, if you have them, any empty plastic totes or cardboard boxes to use to collect things as you take them down. This keeps ornaments from rolling away and white flocking or glitter from getting all over your furniture! White flocking is the bane of our existence during holiday take downs – we all come home covered in it!
- Edit before and edit after! Things to easily toss: broken ornaments, lights that don’t work, outdated décor that never gets used, tired garland, etc. Weed those things out then be ruthless with the rest. Our styles change and so do our spaces so something that worked beautifully 10 years ago may not suit you or your home today.
- If you have holiday items that you never use but were a family piece or a gift that you just can’t bear to let go – create a memory bin just for these things. That way they are all together and you won’t pull them out every year.
- Store by themes and location – meaning if you’ve got a red/gold group and a blue/silver group – bin these together. If you’ve got multiple trees – bin all of the items that go with a particular tree together. If you have displays that are always used in the same location – bin these together and label as such.
- Purchase a Christmas tree bag with wheels! When we schedule Christmas takedowns, I always ask if they have one – if not – we order one on Amazon (this one is one of our faves). Tip: get one for every tree and in the correct size for that tree – then label them so you know which is which!
- Ornaments do best in specialized ornament bins or you risk breakage. We are big fans of these red Jubilee 2 tray bins or the Hefty Hi Rise 72 qt.
- Don’t forget about wreath storage – I recommend these plastic versions from Iris to keep them from getting crushed and bent.
- Label everything! We use a professional label maker or create custom vinyl labels but even packing tape and a sharpie works. Identify all of the contents of each storage container including color/size/quantity if need be. This way when you go to set up for the next holiday season – you can easily identify what you need and where it goes.
- Do an inventory of your current storage solutions before the holiday. You may think the best time to buy these things is right after the holiday but sadly, this is not always true because the stores are done with the holiday spirit and moving into spring. Plan ahead and purchase your bins and storage bags now. If you aren’t sure – buy more than you think you need and return what you don’t use.
- Consistently sized bins and consistent colors makes your life easier. Bins of the same size mean easy stacking. We generally have 2 sizes – a smaller size for delicate or small groups of items, and then a 72 or larger qt. for bulky items or large groups. Pick one color for each holiday and get all of your storage solutions in that color and/or clear. This makes it easier to group them and it feels less visually chaotic.
- Use sturdy plastic bins – cardboard gets crushed and invites pests/moisture.
- Use shelves in your storage area – you really only want to stack bins 2 high – any more than this makes it really hard to get what is on the bottom and leads to bin/boxes crushing.
- While you are editing and organizing, do an inventory of what you need for next year. Did you run out of hooks? Are there light strands that need to be replaced? Did something get broken over the holiday that needs to be replaced? Do this right away so you aren’t caught out next year!
- When it is time to dispose of your tree or greenery – most cities have a recycling program or curbside pickup but also there are many organizations like wildlife rehabilitation or parks that will take them. The wildlife groups use them for creating natural habitats and many parks or nature facilities will grind them up for mulch on trails. Be sure all ornaments, tinsel, garland, etc. is removed prior to donating or recycling.
We hope you found these tips to be as helpful as we did! Let me know which tips you tried and love!
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