You’ve eaten the leftovers, the guests have departed and the last traces of holiday cheer are fading away. The holiday season may be over, but you still have to pack up all the decorations, and that’s no small task. If storing your decorations overwhelms you, consider these seven tips for simplifying this year’s post-holiday routine—and next year’s decorating process.
1. Take Stock of Broken Items.
As you pack your decorations, inspect each item and make note of any burned out lights or broken ornaments, said Barbara Reich, owner of professional organizing company Resourceful Consultants and author of “Secrets of an Organized Mom.” Decide which items need to be replaced, and take care of any additional shopping right after the holidays so you can score the best deals, she added. Buying replacements this year not only saves money but also allows you to start next season with everything you need.
2. Color-Code Your Storage Bins.
Storing your decorations in clear plastic containers may be a popular choice, but you can make life easier by choosing one identifying color for this holiday’s containers and sticking with it, said Denise B. Lee, owner of professional organizing and coaching company Clear Spaces in St. Louis.
“Many people like to color-code their holiday containers. Orange is for Halloween, red is for Valentine’s Day, green is for Christmas,” Lee said.
With a similar system, you can quickly identify which bins you need at the start of the winter holiday season and avoid combing through a lot of containers and locations.
3. Store Decorations Out of the Way.
Chances are you’ll need to access your holiday decorations just once a year, so there’s no need to keep them in a high-traffic area where they’ll get in the way. “You should not be moving these boxes to get to other things,” Reich said.
Reich recommends putting all of your decoration bins and containers on the highest shelves in your home. Or you can keep those decorations in a self-storage unit; be sure to rent a climate-controlled unit if you’re storing candles and fragile items.
4. Take Special Care With Fragile Decorations.
You may have a love-hate relationship with your Grandma Betty’s crystal reindeer ornaments, but that doesn’t mean you want to discover them in pieces when you pull out your decorations next year. To prevent delicate or antique ornaments from breaking or fading, Lee suggests wrapping items in acid-free paper and storing them in archival storage containers with separate slots for each ornament.
5. Keep Your Lights Tangle-Free.
To avoid a lengthy light-detangling session next year, Lee recommends winding all holiday lights around heavy plastic reels before putting them into labeled plastic bins.
6. Put Wreaths and Trees in Use Heavy-Duty Bags.
Extend the life of your artificial tree by storing it in a heavy-duty plastic bag made just for holiday trees, Lee said. Similar bags work well for wreaths, too, but if your wreath has any fragile parts, opt for a structured cardboard or plastic wreath storage box.
7. Don’t Trash Scraps of Wrapping Paper.
If you’re left with a bunch of nearly empty rolls of wrapping paper and you’re torn between throwing them out or letting them take up space, there’s a smarter option. Use the leftover paper to wrap and protect your everyday ornaments before placing them in storage containers, Lee said.