I love decorating for the holidays. Every bin or box that I open holds memories. I love reliving magical moments of past Christmases and remembering the story behind each item. But I admit that once the ball drops in Times Square and we go back to work after New Year’s, I struggle to find the energy to take down all of the ornaments and box everything back up for another 11 months. It’s tempting to just throw everything into Rubbermaid bins and call it a day, but I know that it’s important to take the time to organize everything and make sure it’s protected from damage.
Kathie Titus, a local interior designer, offers the following tips to ensure your holiday decorations are organized and stored safely:
“Keep decorations in a cool, dry place in your house,” Kathie explains. “Since we live in an area known for flooding, I always suggest that my clients store decorations in the attic or on high shelves in the garage instead of in the basement or the first floor.”
- Organize like items together. For example, all holiday linens should be stored together, all lights together, all stockings together, etc.
- Use clear plastic bins that are airtight and moisture-resistant.
- Measure your storage space before you buy new bins.
- Select smaller stackable containers over large ones so that they’re easier to move.
- Look for storage bags, bins, and totes with carrying handles and wheels for easy transport.
- Label each bin or container.
- Take advantage of unused space under guestroom beds by using under-bed storage boxes.
Storing Christmas Lights
“Use the original packaging that came with the strand, or wrap each one around a piece of cardboard, paper towel tube, or PVC pipe and place it into its own plastic bag to prevent tangling,” Kathie suggests.
- Replace any burned-out or broken bulbs as you take down each strand.
- Throw away strings with broken or frayed cords.
- Label each strand of lights with a sticker or electrical tape, noting where you used them (inside, outside, tree, windows, etc.).
Organizing and Storing Ornaments and Tabletop Decorations
“When you store decorations in their original boxes, not only will you know exactly what’s in each box but you’ll also ensure that each item is protected since they are in boxes designed to prevent damage,” Kathie explains.
- If you don’t have the original boxes, look for adjustable dividers to accommodate both large and small ornaments and decorations.
- Protect breakable items by wrapping them in tissue paper, newspaper, or pieces of felt.
- Add mothballs or cedar blocks to storage bins to ward off insects.
Storing Christmas Trees and Wreaths
“If you have an artificial tree, store it in the box that it came in or put it in a Christmas tree storage bag after carefully folding up each branch,” Kathie adds.
- If you have an artificial tree, try shrink-wrapping it before storing it in the attic or garage. This will keep it clean and protected until you’re ready to decorate it next year. Then, just cut up the side of the wrapping and fluff the branches into shape.
- Another option is to put the disassembled pieces of the artificial tree in a heavy-duty zippered tree storage bag or large plastic storage tote.
- Or, if you have room, make setup next year easier by simply slipping an upright tree storage bag over an assembled tree.
- Store wreaths on a nail or hook in the garage or shed to prevent it from getting flattened or damaged in a box.
- Don’t store holiday candles in the attic. Instead, to avoid melting, keep them in the living room or family room. Then if there’s a power outage, you have candles at your fingertips.
- Pack holiday dishes in quilted storage totes or boxes and put paper towels or newspaper between each dish, bowl, or cup.
- Wrap silver items like candlesticks or bells in towels to prevent tarnishing.
“So many people lost priceless items during Hurricane Sandy,” Kathie says. “When you live by the water, you have to think a little bit differently about where to store special items like family heirlooms or handmade ornaments. It’s important to take the time to ensure that your decorations are stored in a way that will limit the potential for damage.”
Kathie Titus is the owner of P & K interiors, a company that specializes in home design and staging.