Organizing Experts Share Their Best Tips for Storing Every Type of Christmas Decoration in the Off-Season
After the holiday season has come and gone, it's tempting to throw all your lights, ornaments, and décor into storage boxes as quickly as you can, but taking the time to organize your pieces with the right packing materials, storage containers, and labels can save you from major headaches when it's time to decorate next year. Ashley Murphy, co-founder of NEAT Method, and Naeemah Ford Goldson, of Restore Order Professional Organizing, protect and organize everything from faux trees to delicate breakables by following a few simple guidelines.
For Goldson, holiday decorating starts early, and as she and her family decorate both a real and a faux tree every year, storing lights, ornaments, and décor is no small task. "To keep track of everything, you first need to create a home for your items," she says. "Every single item needs a place to live, so decide where that will be." You might choose to keep your exterior lights in the garage, your battery-powered trains in a closet in the finished basement, and ornaments in a weather-tight box in the attic, or you might prefer store it all in one specified location. "Once you have a designated space, then you need products to contain the items," says Goldson. Select clear containers with matching lids—which makes it easier to find items when you bring the bins down next year—and carefully label each box with its contents. "It is important to store like items together, so consider creating categories for all the holiday pieces you plan to store," continues Goldson. "This will make labeling everything easier and will help locate items easily when you are ready to start decorating the following year."
Faux Christmas Trees
Towering artificial trees may make a big impact, but they can also be hard to store. "If your tree came with a storage bag, be sure to keep it!" says Murphy. If it didn't, opt for a canvas bag with flexible sides and sturdy handles. "I shrink wrap the tree before adding it to the bag to ensure it fits," notes Goldson.
Holiday String Lights
Purchase cord storage reels for indoor and outdoor lights that keep your strings separate in the off-season. "That way, you will save time since you don't have to untangle lights, and we all know that can be a daunting task," shares Goldson. If you don't have enough cords to warrant a reel, says Murphy, "wrap indoor lights around a piece of cardboard and place them in individual gallon plastic bags to keep them tangle-free. Place lights together in a storage tote with a label, so you can easily find them the next year."
Flattened inflatables and smaller outdoor accessories belong in their own bins, says Murphy. "If your oversized outdoor decorations don't fit into a storage bin, then it might be easiest to place them directly on a storage rack with customizable shelf placement for easy access. These items can be kept in any type of storage space—attic, basement, shed—since they are displayed outdoors and can withstand weather changes."
Divided bins are an obvious go-to for keeping precious ornaments from knocking into each other when you're getting them in and out of your storage nook. "For delicate and sentimental ornaments, I consciously store those items in a smaller container and wrap them in tissue paper or bubble wrap to make sure they are in good condition the following year," explains Goldson.
Keep your rolls wrinkle-free in a lidded storage bin where they can lay flat alongside ribbons, bows, and tape, and store them out of sunlit spots to prevent fading. "If you have lots of paper, you can dedicate a bin for holiday, but if you just have a few rolls, you can combine it with wrapping paper you use throughout the year," says Murphy.
Dishes and Linens
Your grandmother's gravy boat and your great-aunt's embroidered tablecloth should spend the off-season in an out-of-the-way spot. "Store seasonal china and linens in an area you don't need to access frequently, since you only use them once a year—like a top shelf, back of a buffet, or with your other holiday décor in an attic or basement," says Murphy. "Save your easy-to-access, prime real estate areas for items you use more regularly."
Wrap nativity scenes, porcelain villages, antique trains, wooden nutcrackers, and other favorite holiday accents in bubble wrap or foam sheets before packing them away. "Group similar items together in labeled bins—like Christmas tree décor, mantle décor, holiday home décor—and keep these items stored indoors," says Murphy, "or in a weathertight tote in an area with extreme temperature shifts or moisture."