The holidays have come again, which means ’tis the season to be…dragging boxes out of the attic and struggling with those burned-out Christmas lights again.
The stresses of December can easily turn the jolliest elf into a Grinch, so we’ve come up with the best tips for how to pack and store holiday decorations to prevent damage (and cursing).
Store Like With Like
Start your packing strategically.
Unpacking a dozen boxes that are all cryptically labelled “Xmas Decorations” is enough to send Santa himself running for cover. Instead, pack living room decorations (or kitchen decorations, or what-have-you) together in one box labelled as such. There won’t be any guesswork next year as you try to remember whether the nutcracker goes in the dining room or in the foyer.
Likewise, store garlands in the same box as their corresponding ornaments. Coil the garland carefully in a large storage bin and place breakable decorations wrapped in tissue paper in the center. Keep tree ornaments in a bin along with the garland and the lights to create your own little “decorate the tree” kit. Everything is in one place and ready to go!
It’s also a good idea to have an extra box of “overflow” items (strands of lights, extension cords, ornament hooks, and damage-free adhesive wall hooks) so they’re conveniently on-hand if you need them. Stock up on Black Friday or the after-Christmas sales to score some great deals!
The good news is that your holiday items won’t be going on a bumpy truck, so you probably won’t have to do as much damage control as when you’re moving into a new house. However, you’ll still need to shore up against the damage that can happen.
Protect strands of lights from tangling by wrapping them around pieces of cardboard or wrapping paper tubes. Cut a small slit in the cardboard to grip the end of the cord so that everything stays in place. Don’t stack heavy items on top of fragile ones and don’t cram too much into one box.
If your decorations are being stored in an attic, garage, or another area where they will be exposed to heat, keep any candles out of the boxes and store them in a climate-controlled spot (like a closet) to prevent melting.
Finally, put everything in secure, airtight storage bins with well-fitting lids to protect against dust, water, and insect infestations.
Use Containers Creatively
The holidays are a big hit to your wallet, so getting creative when it comes to storage ideas can help save you money while protecting your seasonal decor.
When you can, reuse the original packaging to store breakable pieces safely. You’ll be able to fit more boxes neatly in a storage container and you won’t have to use extra padding.
Rather than buying expensive ornament organizers, use egg cartons or plastic apple cartons to store similar-sized breakable ornaments. If it’s strong enough to shield a fragile egg shell, it’ll do just fine for your ornaments. And remember that huge tin of popcorn that you inhaled within a week? Wash it out and it’s perfect to hold lights, felt ornaments, spools of ribbon, or anything else that needs corralling. (Bonus: it’s already holiday themed!)
Make sure everything is packed up into bins, padding with paper as necessary. And since you’ve just opened all those presents, use the crumpled and torn wrapping paper to cushion your holiday decor. The bright colors will ensure that small figurines won’t get overlooked, and you get to help the environment by keeping extra waste out of the landfill.
Finally, choose clear or “holiday colored” storage bins so you can easily see the contents when you drag everything out next year.
Carry On the Tradition
Now that you’ve figured out the best arrangement for your fireplace mantle, make sure you can recreate it next year.
Take pictures of your holiday displays and store the photo along with the decorations. Or if you prefer a more digital solution, keep your decoration photos in a specially designated computer folder.
For more complicated set-ups (like lawn displays or indoor ceramic villages), sketch a diagram that shows where everything goes as well as the size and number of extension cords you used. (This is also a great way to enlist some help from friends or family without having to explain everything.)
Head Start on Next Year
As you pack everything away, take a good look at the items you have. Do any of them need to be replaced? Repaired? Thrown out?
Take care of it now to get a head start on next year’s decorating. Toss the old artificial tree or burned-out lights and use the post-Christmas clearance racks to replenish your stash.
This is a great time to consider making the switch to LED lights while they’re on sale. These energy-saving bulbs not only save on electric bills, they also make your house more magical: incandescent bulbs typically have a 3-6 strand limit for plugging in end-to-end. But LED lights have a lower wattage, so you can string more of them together without risking a fire.
With these tips, you’re well on your way to a happier (next) holiday and a more organized New Year!