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box of colorful Christmas ornaments

Kimberly Blackford 
by Kimberly Blackford

Decorating for the holiday season is often full of fun memories. Every year families reminiscence as they can’t believe another year has passed and they are decorating the Christmas tree once again. Unpacking the ornaments and stringing the lights encourages a fun and festive atmosphere. However, many homeowners dread tracking down those holiday boxes and discovering what has been damaged. Some are in the garage; others end up the attic and a few have found their way into the basement. The boxes seem to blend together and you no longer remember which ones have the items that you want. Although this task may seem daunting, you don’t have to give up on decorating your home out of frustration.

If this sounds familiar, rest assured that locating the holiday decorations doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. With a little bit or organization and care, packing and unpacking those decorations can be a festive and memorable event once again.

A good start to your holiday decoration organization is choosing the type of storage that fits your needs. Clear plastic bins are excellent choices for decoration storage and are easy to keep clean. The clear bins allow you to see what is in them without opening every container. The size of bins will depend on your amount of decorations. Many plastic bins have locking lids that are somewhat airtight to keep the moisture out of your storage items. Although it may be difficult to spend your money on plastic storage boxes, they will prove to be a good investment for the years to come. Remember to store all holiday-related boxes in the same one location, whether that is the garage, basement, attic or a storage room.

Christmas storage containers

Regardless of your choice of containers, it is imperative to label your storage boxes. Mark every bin clearly so one may seen the label without having to get too close. Identify contents by using a label on the container or write on paper and tape it to the container. Additionally, labeling your decorations inside the box will be a huge help when putting them back up next year. Tape a label on the lights that are specifically for the outdoors and try to store items just as they were hung. For instance, keep a long garland string tied together and label it for the stairs instead of disconnecting them. As you pack your storage containers, write down all of the decorations that are in that container. Some homeowners keep inventory lists so they know exactly what they have and help avoid repeats. This list can be used every year to help identify which items go in each box when repacking. Be sure to mark every box clearly.

When packing up your decorations, keep the parts together that go together. It will be convenient to find everything you need in one place when you’re getting out the decorations. For example, if you have a display that you like to set up each year such as a holiday village scene, store all of these pieces in the same bin. Keeping indoor holiday displays separate from outdoor lighting will make it less confusing next year. If a display involves a certain length extension cord, be sure to keep the cord with the other items for that display. The protective plastic floor sheet should be stored with your tree stand so it is available when you need it.

Many people suggest creating an “Open First Holiday Box.” There are often things that are needed before other holiday items can be placed. You will need to get the tree stand out before getting the tree. Many people address their Christmas cards before other holiday items are set up. Some homeowners create a holiday tool kit to include in this box, consisting of such things like ornament hangers, needle nose pliers, a small hammer, removable wall hooks, spare holiday bulbs, and scissors. This “open first” bin will come in especially handy if you have a large amount of decorations that you store.

Although taking down holiday decorations can be a pain, removing them carefully will definitely help you out for next year when unpacking them. Here are some tips for dismantling and storing particular holiday decorations:

Garland - When taking your fir garland down, gently drape it over your arm to make sure it doesn't get tangled. It is a good idea to place a red or white twist-tie where you pull the garland up for the swag. Garland coils can be easily stored in plastic bag or zip-lock baggies and then placed into storage bins. Be sure to label each plastic bag with the particular area it decorated. If you have any additional adornments that go with your garland, wrap them in tissue paper and store in the center of the container.

Lights - There are several handy ways to store lights so they remain untangled for the following year. Before unplugging, check each light strand for burned out bulbs and replace them. Many homeowners wind the strings of lights loosely around their hand or arm. You can also buy plastic light holders or use wire clips to keep the strings neatly organized. Some people wrap lights around a giftwrap or mailing tube to keep strings from tangling in storage. Put your strings of lights together in a large plastic tub and remember to properly label the bin. By taking a little care now, you will have trouble-free holiday lighting next year.

Glass Ball Ornaments - The first choice is to always put your glass ornaments back in their original boxes for storage. If you do not have the original containers, glass ornaments will be safest in a store-bought divided storage box. Wrapping them in tissue paper or bubble wrap will increase their chances of surviving storage. Be sure to keep the glass ornaments apart and cushion them from getting bumped.

holiday ornament in styrofoam peanuts

Individual Ornaments - Similar with glass ornaments, all other decorations are safest when put back in their original boxes. Ornaments that do not have boxes need to be carefully wrapped. Be sure to use plenty of white tissue paper to cushion each layer. This method is especially good for unusual shaped decorations that might not fit easily into a regular ornament box. After wrapping each ornament, layer them in boxes with packaging peanuts or bubble wrap. If you own some old, family treasure ornaments, be sure to take special precautions when storing them. Some people purchase archival storage boxes and pack items with silica packets to control dampness. When you are finished putting all the ornaments in box, remember to make a list on the outside of the box so you know what ornaments it holds.

Wreaths - Wreaths created from pine or faux fir can easily be stored in hat boxes or hung up in the back of a closet. Some large hat boxes can store multiple wreaths. If you prefer to hang your wreaths, attach each one to a hanger using wire or twist ties. To protect the it from damage and dust, cover the wreath and hanger in plastic bag and hang in the back of a closet until next year.

Candles - The ideal place to store holiday candles is in a cool place. If a refrigerator is not available, wrap the candles in cellophane to keep them from melting together or transferring color and store in labeled boxes in the basement. Try to avoid the attic storage space for candles due to temperature fluctuations. Avoid wrapping your candles in plastic wrap, waxed paper and other materials that might melt onto the candles if they get too warm.

Dishes - Many homeowners store their special holiday dishes in a dining room cabinet or hutch. If this is not available, you can store them in a box without risking damage. Line a bin with newspaper and bubble wrap, then stack each plate with a sheet of bubble wrap in between them. Be sure to fill the gaps with crumpled newspaper or packaging peanuts to avoid shifting the plates. Additionally, remember to label the bins properly.

Holiday decorations are too valuable to get broken or damaged in storage. Many are irreplaceable sentimental and collectable items. Although dismantling your holiday decorations is perhaps the least memorable chore of the season, it is very important to carefully package and label each container. By taking caution when packing up your holiday dˆmcor, these investments will be protected for the following year. And since you’ve already done the prep work, you can rest assured that next holiday season’s decorating will be a quick, easy and joyous occasion.

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