Tis the season to deal with string lights.

green red gold and white christmas baubles on shelf
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Nothing dampens the holiday spirit like untangling a mess of Christmas lights. Although trying to fluff up your misshapen wreath comes close. And there's nothing festive about crushed ornaments, either.

How to tame your inner decorating Grinch? Make it your New Year's resolution to finally organize your holiday décor. While it may seem like a tedious chore in January, come next holiday season, you'll be toasting your tidy self with a mug of eggnog.

Here are some expert organizing tips to get you started.

christmas ornaments in cardboard box
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Begin with a Purge

Holiday items can be some of the most difficult to let go. After all, the season is sentimental by nature, and many of us hesitate to part with gifts.

That said, it's time to say goodbye to those dusty snow globes and evict that singing Santa you dread unpacking every year.

"The number one mistake people make when it comes to organizing and storing holiday décor is wasting space with items they no longer need or want," says Kirsten Gross, a professional organizer based in the Philadelphia area. "Sentimental things are the hardest to part with. But let's face it, the decorations we once loved may no longer appeal to us."

Instead, donate grandmom's Rudolph cookie jar, and put those vintage ornaments on eBay. One man's tacky, after all, is another's treasure.

DONATE: Learn How to Get Rid of Unwanted Goods From Your Home
box of old glass christmas baubles gold green and gray
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How to Store Ornaments

There are entire stores dedicated to containers, and they'd be more than happy to sell you a clunky box specially designed to store ornaments. However, don't rush to purchase a new, single-use item.

"We don't need to buy new things to organize our things," says Monica Friel, president and founder of Chaos To Order, a Chicago-based professional organizing service. "Consumerism is trying to make us feel like we need things like ornament organizers-I call it ‘container clutter.'"

Unless all of your ornaments are the same size, a segmented ornament container won't best suit your needs anyway, points out Friel.

Instead, simply use a large, sturdy cardboard box that contained a Christmas gift. Generously wrap each ornament in either packing paper or padded bubble-wrap pouches and carefully place them in the box, saving your most delicate ornaments for last (this will ensure that you safely unpack these first). Fill any extra space in your box with extra packing paper to prevent the box from being crushed.

For a festive touch, Friel likes write a note on the inside flap of the box to reminder herself of the gift it once contained. "Taking down the tree and packing up ornaments can be drudgery, but it's always fun to remember past holidays," she says.

Credit: Bryan Gardner

How to Store Lights

Say it with us: Thou shalt not create a tangled nest of lights.

The key to organized Christmas lights starts as soon as you begin to remove them from the tree.

"When removing the lights from your tree, hold one end in your hand while wrapping the light strand around your elbow, creating a large loop of lights," says Gross. "Tie a piece of rope around the loop to maintain its form."

Place each secured loop in a large Ziploc bag, then store them together in a waterproof, labeled storage bin.

Use the same method for garland.

LEARN: How to Make a Gift Wrapping Station
christmas wreath over white background with berries
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How to Store Wreaths

There are plenty of specialty wreath storage containers, and if you're worried about your wreath being crushed, you may want to purchase a sturdy plastic one.

However, if you have hanging storage space in a closet, Gross offers this handy tip. "Attach the wreath to a wire hanger and cover it with a moth-proof garment bag," she says. "A garment bag with a zipper will protect the wreath from dust, moisture and any pesky visitors."

STORE: Learn the Best Way to Keep an Artificial Christmas Tree
stripes and patterned gift wrapping ideas
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How to Store Gift Wrap Supplies

For some of us, giftwrapping is an art, worthy of its very own year-round crafting station. We salute you.

But if you're more of a "it's what's on the inside that counts" gifter, resist the urge to accumulate a large stockpile of cheap holiday wrap.

"Do not go out and buy a bunch of discounted gift wrap the day after Christmas," says Friel. "The cost is deceptive. You'll have to store it year round, and real estate is expensive-we pay a lot of money for our space, so we should enjoy the way we use it."

Instead, she suggests investing in a beautiful, high-quality paper that you can use year-round, then decorating with occasion-specific ribbons.

For a small collection of bows and giftwrap, consider an under-the-bed storage container-these are long enough to hold rolls, and deep enough to protect your fluffiest bows.

Watch Martha set Up an Organized Wrapping Station

DIY: And Under-Bed Organizer for Holiday Wrapping


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