Do you open up your Christmas ornaments every year only to notice that they're a big, jumbled mess of tangled cords and broken baubles? You're not alone. We, too, have spent hours untangling lights and picking broken glass out of the carpet. The culprit? Laziness. Each year, after we've spent countless hours meticulously picking a tree, bringing it home, and decorating it to the sounds of Michael Bublé's Christmas album, we get to enjoy our picture-perfect setup. But once the time comes to wrap it up and throw it out, we drag our feet and haphazardly throw baubles in a box along with lights and garlands, with the attitude of someone ripping off the longest Band-Aid in the world.
But there is another way, and that's actually taking the time to do it right. We know—in our post-Christmas holiday daze, we'd much prefer getting back to watching Forrest Gump for the hundredth time, but hear us out… With just a tiny bit of planning and minimal effort, you can actually save yourself a lot of headaches next year.
To help us craft the perfect plan of attack for storing all our holiday decorations this holiday season, we tapped professional organizer Shira Gill. Follow her smart tips on how to store Christmas ornaments and you'll minimize next year's pre-holiday stress.
There's no need to store excess decorations. "Before you pack up your holiday décor this season, make sure to toss any chipped ornaments and broken or damaged strings of lights to save yourself a headache next year," recommends Gill. "This is a great opportunity to clear out and donate any items you don't really use or love. Remember—it's your home, so you should fill it only with things you truly enjoy."
One way to limit the decorations you need to store each year is to adorn your house with fresh greenery instead. "Limit what you need to store, and opt for décor elements that are both minimal and sustainable," suggests the professional organizer. "Popcorn chains, cranberry garlands, gingerbread star ornaments, and simple white candles look festive and beautiful. Natural accents like bunches of fragrant eucalyptus and pine paired with seasonal flowers add a lovely touch, and you can compost them after the New Year."
Divide Tabletop and Tree Décor
If you celebrate Christmas, it's helpful to separate tree decorations and lights from general home décor and tablescape items. "Try setting up one bin for ornaments and tree décor, one for lights and cords, and one for table linens and general house décor," says Gill. "Use waterproof, airtight bins and prominent labels so you can easily find what you need next year."
Make sure to launder tablecloths, placemats, and napkins so they are ready for next year, and wrap them in acid-free paper to protect them before storing them.
Ditch the Packaging
"Instead of storing holiday décor in the bulky original packaging, save space and toss the packaging," says Gill. "You can wrap lights and extension cords around a piece of cardboard to prevent tangling, and protect ornaments and other fragile items by wrapping in bubble wrap or recycled wrapping or tissue paper. If you have tiny ornament hooks, stocking hangers, replacement lights, or other tiny parts to store, keep them contained in an old pencil case or makeup bag."
Simplify Your Gift Wrap
"Instead of wrestling through dozens of old wrapping paper rolls, crumpled tissue, and tangled ribbons, stock up on one big roll of brown or white butcher paper, plus a small caddy with ribbon, twine, and gift tags," suggests Gill. "Plain paper tied with a ribbon or baker's twine looks lovely with a sprig of green or lavender or a personalized gift tag." Pro tip: Instead of tossing your unwanted wrapping and tissue paper, use it to wrap up and store fragile ornaments and holiday décor.
Organize Storage by Holiday
Do you have to fish through Halloween décor to find your Christmas ornaments? Make your life easier by using a separate bin for each holiday you celebrate. "I recommend investing in large stackable bins and prominent labels," says Gill. "Since holidays only come once a year, make sure to avoid storing these bulky bins in prime real estate areas. Try stacking them neatly in your basement, attic, or garage or stowing them away on high closet shelves. It's also helpful to create an all-purpose party bin in your pantry or storage closet for last-minute entertaining."
The professional organizer doesn't only apply this rule to holiday entertaining, though: "I keep my closet stocked with cocktail napkins; disposable plates; votive candles; basic décor; and nonperishables like nuts, chocolate, and something bubbly. It's like a party in a box—just add fresh flowers, food, and music! It's so tempting to toss all your décor in a bin without taking the time to edit, organize, and label. But just remember all the extra time and effort you put in now will have you breathing easier next year!"
This story was originally published on December 28, 2017, and has since been updated.