In many ways, artificial Christmas trees are more convenient than real-deal evergreens. They don’t shed needles, you don’t have to water them, and you get to skip the freezing cold trip to the tree farm. These days, most even come pre-lit.
However, while your standard Fraser fir moves out after the holidays, an artificial tree requires year-round storage.
“One of the things you should ask before buying an artificial tree is, ‘Do I have the space to store this?’” says Monica Friel, president and founder of Chaos To Order, a Chicago-based professional organizing service. “A full-size tree is going to take up space in your home all year, every year.”
If you’re willing to sacrifice some square-footage, read on for tips on how to store your artificial tree.
Step One: Remove All Decorations
Before disassembling your tree, make sure to remove all ornaments, as these can become crushed as branches pile on top of each other in storage. You’ll also want to remove any string lights if your tree isn’t pre-lit.
While you’re in post-holiday cleaning mode, go ahead and give the branches a good dusting using a vacuum cleaner with a duster attachment or a damp cloth. You’ll thank yourself when you unpack a clean, ready-to-go tree next year.
Step 2: Disassemble Your Tree
Before disassembling your tree, make sure it’s unplugged. If you wiped it down, allow ample time for the needles to fully dry.
Smaller artificial trees are usually one piece and fold up similar to an umbrella. Full-size trees, however, are composed of several parts. They can be tricky to disassemble, and as you only do this once a year, there’s no shame in referring to the manufacturer’s instructions.
However, if you have space to spare, there is a way around this pesky step. Upright tree bags allow you to store your tree completely assembled, base and all. They tend to be more expensive that other storage bags, and they’re definitely not space savers—but if you have the room, setting up your tree next year will be as easy as unzipping a bag.
Step 3: Bag It Up
Don’t bother saving your tree’s original box. While reducing and reusing is a noble cause, in this case, it’s not your best bet. Just like real Christmas trees, an artificial tree’s branches fluff out considerably over the course of the holiday, and stuffing them back into the original packaging could cause damage.
“What you want is a good quality Christmas tree bag,” says Friel. “If you’re going to spend the money on a nice tree, you want to protect it.”
When it comes to bags, there are plenty of options out there. Some have wheels, which can come in handy if you’re transporting a heavy tree. Others come in sets, which can be easier than storing one oversize bag. Regardless of which bag you choose, make sure it’s water-resistant.
Carefully place each piece of your tree into the bag. If your tree is on the larger side, err on the side of an extra-large storage bag—you don’t want to squish your branches.
Finally, store your bag in a cool, dry place. Heat can cause artificial trees to become discolored or even melt, so depending on your location, the attic or garage may not be your best option.
Watch the Video Below to Hear Why Martha Loves an Artificial Christmas Tree.