Episode 43: December 26, 2012
by Amanda Thomas
The holidays are officially over, which means it is time to start thinking about putting away your Christmas decorations. If you have an annual battle with a ball of Christmas lights, or a memorial service for all the broken ornaments, it’s time to learn some better methods to storing your Christmas decorations. Even if your decorations come out of storage in working condition, today’s tips will help you learn how a few small modifications can cut hours off your decorating time next year.
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So, let’s roll up our sleeves, and learn how to store indoor and outdoor Christmas tree decorations!
Tip #1: Get the Right Equipment
The key to safely storing your Christmas decorations is making sure you have the right storage containers. Let’s start with the tree itself. If you have an artificial tree, you want to make sure that it is stored well, so it continues to look great year after year. The box that the tree came in can be used to repackage it, but it can be a challenge to fit the tree back in after it’s been fluffed. In our house, we still use the original box, but it takes one of us giving the box a full-body bear hug while the other person quickly wraps as much mailing tape as possible around the box.
If your box is past the point where it can take the hug and wrap method, or if you don’t have any close family members to help you execute this embarrassing feat, I would recommend opting for a tree bag or giant plastic bin. Either option will work well for protecting your tree, but tree bags are usually easier for one person to carry because they have wheels on one end.
To protect your delicate Christmas decorations, some of the supplies I like to recommend are gallon-size plastic baggies, masking tape, flat shirt boxes, small cardboard boxes, tissue paper, egg cartons, and plastic tote bins. Sure, there are lots of specialized organizing bins in stores right now, but you probably already have most of the items you’ll need around your house, so save your money and use some of these recycled options.
Tip #2: Sort, Sort, Sort
In my home, all our Christmas tree decorations get stored in medium or large plastic tote bins. The hard plastic of the boxes make sure that the containers won’t collapse if stacked too high. Plus, if you store your Christmas decorations in the basement, packing them in plastic totes will protect them in case your basement floods.
Bonus tip: Make sure everything you store in your basement or garage is in plastic tote bins. Whether a flood is from rain, a broken pipe, or an exploded water heater, cardboard boxes won’t stand a chance.
For the Christmas tree decorations, I use all those recycled items I listed in Tip #1 to sort the decorations into smaller, protected containers. I take all “like” ornaments and put them together so they are easy to distribute evenly on the tree next year.
For example, I put all the red glitter snowflakes in one baggie, the purple balls in another, and gold glitter starbursts in yet another. Then, when it’s time to put them on the tree next year, I simply grab one bag at a time to make sure I don’t end up with a clump of red snowflakes or a bunch of purple balls all in one spot on the tree.
I also like using gallon-size baggies to store strings of beads and garland. My trick with these is to put one strand in the bag at a time, moving back and forth so the strand zigzags in the bottom of the baggie. Then, before tossing in the end of the strand, I tape it to the side of the bag so I can easily find it next year. By zigzagging the strands, they will easily pull out, free of tangles the next time you put them on your tree.
Those egg cartons, flat shirt boxes, small cardboard boxes, and tissue paper are great for storing the more delicate Christmas ornaments. I layer my small and flat ornaments with tissue paper in the flat shirt boxes to keep them protected. The glass balls can be wrapped or separated with tissue paper before packing them into small cardboard boxes, and the really small ornaments can be kept protected in egg cartons.
And anytime I take Christmas lights off a tree or the house, I wrap them in loose loops by holding an end in my hand, then wrapping the strand around my bent elbow and again back into my hand, fisherman-style. When the entire strand is wrapped, I use about 4” of masking tape to secure the strand as a loop. That way, when you need to unwind the strand, you can simply undo the masking tape and unfurl the strand without battling with knots.
If you have multiple trees in your home, keep all the decorations for each tree in separate bins. By keeping your front room tree decorations separate from your basement tree decorations, you won’t have to haul the box back and forth to find all the decorations for each tree.
Tip #3: Label, Label, Label
Once those smaller boxes and baggies are sorted, label them with what you have put in them. Grab your masking tape, write the contents on the tape, then stick it on the box. This way, when you are unpacking next year, you will easily be able to find all your decorations. Plus, it will help you remember how to pack everything away again at the end of each season!
Remember that little piece of tape that you used to hold your light strands together? It does double duty as a label for the lights. Write on the end of the tape where exactly those lights came from. Next year, when you take them out, you will be able to know exactly how many strands went on your tree, or how many it took to decorate the front of your house.
Finally, as you pack everything into the plastic totes, make sure to label those boxes with which room’s decorations they contain too. If you have to look in each box to figure out if it contains outdoor lights, Christmas tree lights, or holiday towels, you are going to waste a lot of time doing detective work. Having each box labeled means you can simply pull out what you need and put the decoration in the correct room of your house each year.
By taking a little extra time when taking down your Christmas decorations this year, you can save yourself tons of time and aggravation for years to come. So, whether you take everything down before the end of the year, or wait for Valentine’s Day to kick it in gear, make sure you do it right the first time!
If you have any tips and tricks for storing your Christmas decorations, post them in the comments section below, or on my Facebook wall or Twitter feed where I’m @TheDomesticCEO. And check out my Pinterest page, at Pinterest.com/thedomesticceo.
Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.