How to Organize Holiday Decorations


When it’s time to clean up your Christmas decorations, save yourself a lot of time, aggravation, and space for the next year by following these tips.  Getting organized after the holidays has never been so easy!

You Will Need:

  • Plastic storage bins (eyeball your decorations to determine how many you’ll need)
  • Heavy-duty storage bags or garbage bags
  • Permanent marker
  • Small plastic bags (grocery bags work well)
  • Cardboard tubes, squares, or light holders
  • Garbage can
  • Tissue paper
  • Small cardboard boxes (or original ornament boxes)

Steps to Organize Decorations:

  1. Before you start packing the decorations, take a good long look at the items that never left the box. If it’s broken, hasn’t been used in a year or two, or you don’t like it, toss it. If you can’t throw it away, pass it along to someone else who may want it.
  2. Next, designate plastic storage bins (or sturdy cardboard boxes) for distinct purposes. Use one or two solely for tree ornaments and another for tree lights and garland or beads. Write the contents on the side with a marker.
  3. Begin to fill the bins so they are full, but not stuffed.  If you no longer have the original ornament boxes, wrap each one in tissue paper and pack them in smaller cardboard boxes with similar items. Arrange these cardboard boxes into the larger storage bins, making sure to leave a one inch gap at the top to allow a cushion if the top gets pushed down.  Make sure the contents are labeled.
  4. After the ornaments are off of the tree and put away, remove the lights and garland from the tree in the reverse order that you put them on. If the lights went on before the garland, remove the garland before the lights.
  5. Wind it up around a piece of cardboard. Cardboard tubes from paper towels work well, as do stiff squares of cardboard. There are also special light holders available that can be purchased where holiday items are sold. Wrap one strand of lights or garland on each piece of cardboard, and slip each one individually into a plastic bag. This will prevent tangles later on when items get shifted around in storage. Put all of the plastic bags together in a labeled storage bin.
  6. For household decorations, continue along the same lines. Wrap fragile items in tissue paper and store them in smaller cardboard boxes for extra protection.
  7. Write the contents on the cardboard boxes so you can easily identify them next year.
  8. Place the decorations in storage containers labeled by room.
  9. Once the inside is finished, you’re ready to move outdoors. Wrap each individual strand of lights around a piece of cardboard and store in plastic bags.
  10. Place in bins labeled for outdoor lighting.
  11. Place remaining outdoor décor back in the original boxes or in storage bins. Items that are too big to fit in storage bins can be stored with large plastic (storage or garbage) bags over them. Label the bags with a marker so you’ll know the contents at a glance.
  12. Once you’ve collected all of the decorations, store them so the first items you decorate with are the easiest to access. If you always start with outdoor lights, put them in last so they are on the top of the pile and easiest to pull out first next year. If the tree comes first, arrange the bins so the tree decorations are the first ones you’ll pull out.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • As you pack away decorations, keep an eye out for broken items. Either repair them or throw them out before storing them for the year.
  • If you have similar decorations in various parts of the house – lighted garland for the mantle and stairways, for example – label each strand with its location. Knowing whether it belongs on the front door or the back stairs can make your life much easier next year.
  • Ensure that decorations are clean and dry before you put them in storage. You’ll avoid a big mess by making sure items are in good condition as you put them away. Pay particular attention to items that have been exposed to the elements outdoors.
  • If you store items in a shed or basement, don’t put them directly on the ground – especially if these locations are prone to flooding. Keeping them even six inches off the ground will help them last longer, and it’s an essential step if you’re storing in cardboard boxes.
  • Make a note of any damaged or missing items or anything you’d simply like to replace or add for the next year. An easy-to-see reminder will be much better than discovering you need to run to the store when you’re knee deep in decorations the following year!
  • If you like to hit the post-holiday bargains, make your purchases before putting away your decorations. This will allow you to place the items in with the existing items so they will be easy to locate and use the following year.

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