Caring for Christmas Ornaments
Maintenance Made Easy
The secret to keeping valued ornaments in tip-top shape is cleaning and repairing them properly. Use a dry (never wet) cloth to polish imperfections. A small, dry makeup brush or paintbrush lets you remove dust and debris from hard-to-reach places. For minor repairs, use Elmer's Glue -- it can be quickly wiped away if you make a mistake. Severe repairs may require stronger adhesives such as hot glue or Magna-Tac. Wooden eye-color brush, muji.us.
The Right Way to Wrap
Acid-free tissue paper is perfect for storing all ornaments because it's free of chemicals and dyes, which can damage delicate pieces. Acid-free tissue sheets, containerstore.com.
Run out of tissue? Use plain white linen sheets or dish towels instead (they are also free of chemicals and dyes). Plus, they'll add a little extra padding.
Extra Caps and Hooks
"I save broken ornament caps and hooks, so if one of my pieces breaks, I can replace its parts with what's in my collection. I keep them in a bowl so they're easy to find in a pinch." -- Fritz Karch, Martha Stewart Living collecting editor
Storage Tricks: Eco-Friendly Ideas
Protect the planet and precious pieces: Store small items in egg cartons and oddly shaped ones in takeout containers lined with acid-free paper.
Storage Tricks: Zip It Up
Keep delicate ornaments safe in zippered plastic storage bags. Trapping air inside the bag will create a protective cushion for fragile items.
Storage Tricks: Sturdy Storage
Storage Tricks: Divide and Conquer
A segmented cardboard box (or old wine box) will help you stay organized and is sturdier than a shoe box. Similar 12-compartment box, containerstore.com.
Do Not Use Touch-Up Paint
A few mistakes could turn your treasures into trash. Here's how to avoid damaging delicate pieces.
If your favorite ornament is chipped or scratched, don't try to fix the paint yourself. Most are made with will be nearly impossible to match, so it's better to live with the imperfection.
Do Not Store in Attic or Basement
Vintage ornaments' enemies are moisture and light. Humidity can damage fragile material, and light will strip the original color. Avoid the basement and attic, since those areas have the most extreme changes in humidity and temperature. Instead, keep items in a closet or under a bed.
Do Not Use Plastic Storage Boxes
Plastic should not be used for storing vintage pieces because the resealable lids trap moisture, which can damage older pieces. Reserve plastic for regular ornaments or Christmas lights.