Holiday Organizing Tips That Will Make This Season Tidy and Bright
Dragging out your holiday decorations from storage after 11 long months can sometimes elicit a feeling of dread. You might be expecting a scene of tangled twinkly lights, crushed ornaments, and crinkled wrapping paper, introducing the potential for headaches during an otherwise joyful time of year.
That's where a top-notch organization system comes in. "I only like decorating [for the holidays] when it's fun and doesn't feel like a task," says Ryen Toft, owner and founder of Simply Luxe Organizing. "When you have everything sorted, labeled, and stored with care, you not only prolong the life of your items, but save yourself some money and time—not to mention sanity."
Make this the year it all changes by putting every holiday item you own its rightful place. You'll thank yourself when it's time to unearth everything again next time.
How to Organize Your Gift Wrapping Station
Gift Wrapping Cart
A free-standing cart built specifically to house gift wrapping paper and supplies (we like the Container Store Elfa Gift Wrap Cart) is perhaps the easiest solution. A designated piece like this comes with space for everything (tape, wrapping paper, ribbon, markers) and keeps everything together and organized. If you want a more compact option, try something like the Hearth & Harbor Wrapping Paper Storage Container.
Over-the-Door Shoe Caddy
For an inexpensive solution that requires minimal space, "take an over-the-door shoe caddy and cut out the bottoms of a few of the plastic pockets to feed the wrapping paper tubes through," says Allison Flinn, CPO and founder at Reclaim Professional Organizing. "Make sure the lowest section still has a bottom so that the paper doesn't fall to the floor." You can use the remaining pockets to store ribbons and folded tissue paper.
How to Organize Ornaments
It's best to organize your ornaments by type. For example, you might group all of your sentimental or hand-made ornaments together—or sort by shape or color. Everyone's ornament collection and tree decorating preferences vary, so there's no right or wrong way. Ultimately, there just needs to be a way—and you need to do what's most convenient for you.
Store them in an ornament organizer, like West Elm's 3-Tray Ornament Keeper or the Wayfair Basics Ornament Storage. Find one you like and buy a few extra for growth (you'll undoubtedly add to your collection over time), so they look cohesive; this lessens visual clutter. Before packing ornaments away, set up a small table with a hot glue gun and super glue and fix any ornament that's broken before stowing it away for the year, suggests Toft.
How to Organize Wreaths and Garlands
Store wreaths in large, wreath-specific containers. "If you have multiple wreaths and plan to stack them, then use sturdy plastic containers," says Kristin Gorin, co-owner of Get Organized RVA. She recommends something like the Iris USA Holiday Wreath Storage Container Box with Lid.
If you're not stacking your wreaths, opt for a flexible plastic option, such as the Whitmor Clear Everyday Wreath Bag.
Long under-bed storage bins are ideal for garlands since they allow for length extension and minimal twists and turns (something like the storageLAB Underbed Storage Containers is a good bet), Gorin says. Another option "is to wind the garlands loosely in a spiral and store within standard bins," she adds. Just make sure they're deep enough to prevent compression and breakage.
How to Organize Your Holiday Lights
Few things elicit a groan quite like pulling out last year's giant twisted nest of holiday lights. Fortunately, several storage solutions exist to keep them tangle-free. Gorin recommends the Zober Premium Christmas Light Storage Bag, which has a sturdy, built-in wheel to wrap the lights around.
For a quick, resourceful solution, try the cardboard method. "Cut out a 12-inch rectangle, then wind each strand around each piece of cardboard checking for any broken bulbs as you go," Toft says. "I like to keep them plugged in while doing this to make sure they work and that all bulbs are good in the same swoop of time."
Go the extra mile by noting where each string of lights was hung (or will hang), which will make next year's decorating job that much easier.
How to Organize Other Indoor Holiday Decorations
Aim to organize indoor holiday décor items by room. "For example, if you have a family room that you decorate with candlesticks, stockings, stocking hangers, seasonal picture frames, garlands, and a nativity set, it makes sense to have that all sorted into one bin so that room can be completed in one decorating session," says Gorin.
In the same vein, group holiday kitchen and dining items together, like servingware, table linens, and centerpieces. Wrap anything fragile in bubble wrap or tissue paper, and keep these items toward the top of any boxes to prevent damage.
How to Organize Outdoor Holiday Decorations
From large inflatable pieces to whimsical figurines, find a space for your outdoor holiday items to keep them safe—and easy to locate each year.
"We always suggest removing these items from their original packaging and using plastic bins instead, which prevents damage," says Flinn, noting to retain their care or instruction manuals. "Purchase plastic bins that are large enough for the items. Place them in the box along with the instructions so you can see, at a glance, what the items are and how to assemble them."
How to Organize Holiday Apparel
Your closet should serve as a functional space, so it doesn't make sense to keep holiday-specific pieces in your wardrobe year round. Combine any garments you only wear for the holidays—like "ugly" sweaters or plaid items—and tuck them away in a sweater box. "I highly recommend washing or dry cleaning any item before storing," says Toft. "That way, any wine stains, or tailoring, is taken care of. Once fully dry, use your sweater piller to make sure [the piece] is being stored away in its best condition."
A Few More Holiday Organizing Tips
- Be specific when labeling: "If you are organizing by location, mark the specific room on multiple sides of the bin," says Gorin. "If you organize by type, make sure the label is descriptive enough to know what's inside."
- Throw away anything perishable: That includes sprinkles, glitter, and food pens. These items are best when purchased fresh each year.
- Declutter before packing everything away: Toss, fix, or donate as needed.
- Be intentional when purchasing new holiday décor: Are you purchasing it because it's something you love or because it's on sale? Be sure to ask yourself this question every time you have the urge to buy a new holiday piece, says Flinn.
- Stack bins from heaviest to lightest: This allows for easier unearthing and less opportunity for damage.
- Stay streamlined: Purchase uniform bin sizes with the same/similar appearance to prevent visual clutter.