The holidays have come and gone and it’s time to take down all the red, green, gold and silver and get your home back in order. Where do you start?
First of all, chose a time when everyone that isn’t going to help you with this project is out of the house or at least out of your way, including pets.
Next, bring out all of the storage containers that you already own for storing your decorations such as Rubbermaid containers, specialty boxes and packages that some items were purchased in.
Lay out all the containers where you can see them and start packing anything that you can back into it’s original box or package as long as the packing and the container are sturdy and in good shape. If it’s broken, the container won’t protect the items from breakage, bugs and dirt so just toss it out and set those items aside for now.
Don’t be afraid to purge as you go along, tossing out broken items, items with missing pieces and faded or unwanted decorations. Strings of lights are so reasonably priced these days so if all the bulbs are in place and it doesn’t work you can try changing the fuse but if that doesn’t work just toss them out.
Garland and tinsel can get tattered and stretched out and should be examined closely before putting them away for another year. Once again, they are very inexpensive to replace and they are an item that you want to be in good shape when you place them on your tree as they are a focal point.
Start filling the containers that you already have with like items, lights with lights, ornaments with ornaments and hooks, keepsakes and breakables wrapped carefully and kept together to make it easier next year when you want to put them out for display.
Use up the containers you already have before purchasing new ones, after purging you may find that you only need one or two new containers.
Be careful not to overfill the containers causing items to break or crack when the containers get stacked in your storage area.
When it comes to glass or breakable ornaments, there are dozens and dozens of specialty containers out there to purchase through such stores as The Container Store, Target and other stores that carry these seasonal items or you can go online and go to the catalog sources to shop such as Solutions, Improvements and Frontgate to name a few. The have a wide assortment of choices depending on the size of your decorations and the space you have to store them in.
Where ever you purchase your containers, be sure to get containers that will stack easily on top of one another and that you will still be able to move once they are full of decorations. You also need to be sure they will all fit in the storage space in your home where you keep your decorations. Be sure that it is a cool dry space and make sure that all the containers you use have a good tight seal on them to keep out dirt, moisture and bugs.
Identifying what’s in your containers is very important, it will makes things much easier when the next holiday comes around. You you can accomplish this in several different ways. One way is to use clear containers so you can see what is inside. You can also label each container, but be sure to do that not only on the side but on top as well and use labels that won’t fall off over time.
Another very helpful way to store seasonal decor is to use different colored containers for different holidays. Most stores sell containers in holiday colors, at the very least the color of the lids will represent the season so you can have red and green lids on your winter holiday decor, pastels or whites for the Easter holidays, bright green for St. Patrick’s Day, orange or yellow for Halloween-you get the idea.
You may decide to keep all the containers the same color and just cover them with stickers to represent the holiday decor that is stored in them, just be sure to secure them well or you might run into problems down the road when they fall off.
You always want to wrap any fragile items separately before putting them in containers, don’t assume that just because they are lose in a sturdy container that they won’t bang into each other and crack or break. You can use tissue paper, old gift wrap that’s faded or too small, butcher’s paper, anything that will keep them from moving around and getting chipped or broken. Stay away from newspaper as the ink tends to get messing and rubs off on fabrics and your hands as well as porous surfaces and it holds odors.
Storing candles can be tricky, depending on where you are storing them. Ideally you would keep all your candles in one place in your home that is cool, dark and dry and just pull them out as needed. Wax paper is good for rolling individual candles in so they don’t bleed they colors into one another if stored together.
Always try to keep the boxes your candles come in, they were made to be store in them for long periods of time in shipping and on store shelves, take advantage of that and use them.
If you have big bulky candles that are molded into shapes and are too big to store with your everyday candles, then wrap them up carefully and store them in a plastic container with a good seal and keep them cool and dry but not frozen. The Container Store shoe box works great for tapers and pillars and keeps them stored dry and protects them from cracking and breaking.
Freezing will crack candles and extreme heat will melt them or make them bleed colors into each other. Trim the wicks before storing too, so they are clean and ready to use the next time you take them out. Also store candle putty or bees wax strips with your candles so they will be easy to find when you need to use them to keep candles in place in the containers you display them in.
Be sure to store anything scented separately from the other decorations. Wrap them up to keep the fragrance with just that item so it’s nice for the next season and doesn’t rub off on other items.
Be sure to take batteries out of anything that runs on batteries as they can corrode and run the items they are left in. It’s much cheaper to replace the batteries next season than it will be to replace the item that the batteries ruined.
When you store stuffed decorations, it’s okay to put them in large plastic containers, but be sure to place them in a way that they will not get bent or disfigured and use a plastic bag over items that are fragile such as a porcelain head on a stuffed doll to keep her hair in place and her face clean and safe.
Be sure that all these items are clean before storing them as they sometimes get picked up and loved by little people who tend to have sticky hands and faces and so then will your stuffed decoration, and you don’t want to store it away dirty as it will stain or grow mold. Just give them all a good “once over” before storing away so you can enjoy them again next year!
Tree skirts should also be checked for spills and stains or even tears as they do take a lot of abuse over the holiday season especially when you have a live tree or pets. Once you are sure it is clean, dry and needs no mending, store it away as you would any other nice linen, flat and protected by tissue paper and in a box or your linen closet if there’s room.
Artificial trees are designed to be dismantled for easier storage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t store them in the stand and upright if you have the space. Many people will just remove the lose decorations and store them separately then take the entire tree in it’s stand with the lights still in place and store it upright in a storage closet, basement or garage.
Assembling an artificial tree can be a hassle each year so if you must dismantle it, do it in a way that the parts are clearly labeled and lay them as flat as you can so they keep their shape.
If you do chose to store your tree upright, be sure that it is completely covered with plastic and taped shut to keep out dirt, dust, bugs and such, it is only a tree to them after all!
There are several types of tree bags that can be purchased to store your tree as well both standing or lying down which are made of durable vinyls with zippers and/or Velcro strips to keep them snug and secure. Frontgate has a wonderful line of products such as a tree storage systems and stands.
When it comes to your outdoor decorations, be sure to check everything before you store it away for the year. Does everything still work? Are the electrical cords still safe to use or were they damaged by weather or misuse? Do you need to replace bulbs or repair movable electrical decorations?
Be sure to clean everything and check that it is all completely dry before storing it away, otherwise you may end up with rusted out pieces or mold covered items from the condensation that builds up inside and on these items.
It’s a good idea to store the cords you used for those items right along with them so you don’t have to go searching for them or buying new ones next year. If you didn’t keep the boxes that your large outdoor decorations came in, more of the large bulky figures can go into big garbage bags along with the cords and be stored on garage shelves or in the attic space.
You could also just store them unwrapped and out in the open if you have the room in your garage or storage room, but be sure to keep them upright so they don’t get broken or dented and secure the cords someway so they don’t get damaged.
You want to store the lights that you use outdoors separately from the indoor lights and label them so there is no confusion. The same for any garlands you may decorate with, keep the indoor pieces together in one container and the outdoor pieces in their own too. Then you will have just the right pieces that fit each railing or fireplace next year and won’t have to juggle things around to make them fit. Anything that is displayed outside will be a little dirty and you don’t want to put them on your indoor stair railings the next year.
The thing to remember is that everything you are putting away now has to come back out next year, so making the effort now to put them away clean, repaired and properly wrapped and stored will make it so much easier and more enjoyable in the seasons to come!