By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
Those stockings you hung by the chimney with care are practically begging to be removed. That tinsel-tinged artificial tree occupying half the living room is getting to be a real eyesore. And the icicle lights dangling from your porch overhang have outlived their seasonal significance.
Time to take down the holiday trimmings and box them up for another off-season. It’s a chore you don’t look forward to, but which must be done carefully lest you risk premature degradation, breakage, or misplacement.
“It’s important to store your holiday decor properly so that it doesn’t get broken or damaged and to make it easier for next year,” says Mary Jo Contello, owner/organizer at Organized By MJ in Houston. “I recommend first taking photos of your decorated home before you remove any decor. This helps to remember where you put things.”
Having a plan for storage before taking down the decorations “can help streamline the entire process, ensuring that everything is in its proper place,” agrees Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy in Chicago.
Michelle Urban, a professional home organizer and owner of The Organized House, advises sorting all like things together.
“This way, it’s easy to access items like outdoor lights or the mantle garland. You don’t have to search through all the boxes and bins to find what you are looking for,” she says, also recommending proper labeling on the outside of each container.
Kazimierski echoes those thoughts.
“It can be tempting to throw everything in one big box and then stow it up in the attic. But keeping things separated and sorted by type of decoration is best,” he says.
Never rush this job. Take time to carefully strip your Christmas tree of items one category at a time – perhaps ornaments first, then garland followed by string lights.
When it comes to storage bins, it’s best to use airtight and weather-resistant containers with locking lids that will prevent pest infestations and moisture damage.
“I love the weathertight tote bins from The Container Store because they have a secure latch and are modular, allowing them to stack perfectly,” adds Urban.
You could also purchase ornament dividers and put them inside these bins for easy organizing and separation.
“I like to use bubble wrap, tissue paper, recycled shipping paper, or magazine paper to wrap each ornament for safer storage,” Contello advises.
Storage for Christmas lights can be done using reels or holders, keeping them organized and ready for next year. You could also wrap each strand of light and put them in ziploc bags to keep them protected and separated, adds Contello.
“Wreaths can be stored in special bags made for wreaths or even recycled dry cleaning bags. Or you can use a clean trash bag by putting the wreath on a hanger and tying up the end of the bag. This allows you to hang the wreath on a hook on a wall in your garage or storage area, keeping the wreath in great shape,” she continues.
Artificial trees are best stored in an upright position. But if you lack the vertical space, use a large and long sturdy plastic or specialty bag.
“Remember to purge before and after your decor takedown. Get rid of any items that are broken, no longer used, or that you no longer like,” recommends Urban.
Most holiday decor ends up in the garage, attic, basement, or crawl space. If you’ve run out of room in these areas, consider any unused areas like a spare room, closet, beneath the stairs, or even underneath beds. Just be sure any area you designate for storage is a relatively cool and dry place.