Tips for Storing & Protecting Holiday Decorations

As another holiday season heads toward its inevitable end, it's time to think about how to store and protect your holiday decorations for next year.  And if you added to the collection this year, you may be short on storage space!  Below are some tips to keep in mind as you think about that dreaded chore of taking those decorations down and putting them away for another year.

Label The Lights

If it took you forever this year to figure out which string of lights goes where, you can make your life easier by labeling each string of lights with masking tape.  Coil each string of lights and wrap it with the tape to help keep it from tangling.  Wrapping the lights around a piece of cardboard is even better - you can re-use those gift boxes by cutting them into forms for the lights.  Use a permanent marker to indicate on the tape the location the lights are used in, so that you don’t end up having to figure it out by trial and error next year. Put all the lights in a box and label the outside of the box as well.  

Be Kind to the Packaging

Often it's easier and faster to rip open the box a new ornament comes in than to figure out how to get it out without ruining the box. Who designs these packages, anyway, especially the ones with mulltiple plastic tabs, tape and twisties? Keeping the packaging intact is definitely a better idea in the long run. To be sure your ornaments stay in one piece for next year, you can store them in their original box where there is likely padding and a custom space for them to sit until next holiday season.  Don't have all the original packages?  Check out the sales at the dollar stores, pharmacies and home improvement stores where you can get ruggedized corrugated cardboard or plastic containers with dividers to keep ornaments separated and protected in their own space.  

Food Ornaments (Non-Edible, Of Course)

There's nothing worse than pulling out that macaroni ornament your child made last year, only to find it crushed or eaten by critters.  You can protect that special gingerbreadman cookie, Rice Krispie wreath or macaroni tree pretty easily.  Just put any food-based decorations in re-sealable plastic sandwich bags before putting them into their designated compartment in the storage container you bought at Home Depot.

Label, Label, Label

This sounds like an easy and logical task, but many people forget to do it when hurrying (and often hating) to take down and store holiday decorations. Just use a permanent marker to make a quick list of the contents in the box before you put it in the basement or attic. Then next year you won't have to waste time and end up frustrated when searching for a must-have decoration! 

Take an Inventory

If you never know what decorating items you need to repurchase, there is an easy solution. When you’re putting decorations away for the year, make a list of all decorations you have on hand and concurrently create a list of things you need to replace. This is a good time to take advantage of sales, as stores want to unload their stock. 

Keep Candles in Shape

Almost everyone loves candles, especially at the holidays.  Whether you purchase them yourself, or receive the as gifts, you need to protect them from getting smashed, cracked or melting into lumpy messes.  If you want to keep your candles looking great for next holiday season, put tapers into paper towel tubes to protect them.  For larger candles, try using square tissue boxes (the candle will be held in place by the opening in the box).  It's best not to store candles in the attic, where summer's heat can melt them.

With your holiday decorations safely stored, you can now focus on your New Year's resolutions!