Putting up Christmas decorations can be one of the most enjoyable times of the year for your family. Getting everyone together to hang Christmas ornaments and string lights makes for plenty of laughs and jokes. For most families, putting up decorations is a job everyone wants to help out with — but taking them back down is no one’s favorite task.
But for those of us who like to clear our homes of clutter and make them a bit more organized, taking down holiday decorations poses a unique opportunity. It’s a time to take a good, hard look at the decorations you’re taking down — and the ones you never put up at all — and decide what’s going to stay and what’s going to be given away. You only have so much storage space in your home, and there’s no use in hanging on to decorations that you didn’t even put up.
On the other hand, you probably have decorations that you cherish greatly. You may have ornaments representing moments in your children’s lives or you may have vintage or antique decorations passed down to you by your parents or grandparents. They’ll never be worth anything, but they’re priceless to your family and they need to be protected. When you’re packing away decorations this year, you can invest in boxes that will keep your decorations safe until next year.
Packing up your decorations and taking the time to do so will also give you future self a hand next holiday season. When you pack everything up neatly this year, you’ll have an easier time unpacking it all next year — and that’s a gift you will thank yourself for giving next year when putting up everything again goes smoothly.
So don’t think of taking down Christmas decorations as an awful chore. Think of it instead as an opportunity to clear out a little clutter from your home and make it easier on yourself next year.
Here’s how reorganizing your Christmas decorations as you take them down this year can help you open up space in your storage space or attic and get a jump start on your spring cleaning.
Invest in sturdy boxes and storage containers
Many people use the same cardboard boxes year after year to store their decorations. The boxes get ripped and have holes in them, and ornaments are spilling out of the top. Yet some homeowners will continue to use those same boxes without replacing them.
But those cardboard boxes sitting in your attic or garage can become a safe haven — and even a food source — for pests. Mice and termites might make their homes out of your boxes when they’re left alone in the attic for 11 more months. If there’s any water damage or leaks in your attic or basement, the cardboard will soak up the moisture and may start to grow mold. If left alone, the mold can damage your Christmas decorations and ornaments and ruin them entirely.
You don’t want to open your decorations next year and find them damaged beyond repair, especially those decorations that have been passed down.
Take this opportunity now and invest in some plastic bins and storage containers to preserve your ornaments and decor. Pick up a few five-gallon plastic bins to store your decor or find some large bags with sturdy sides and handles.
You can also find specialized boxes that have compartments for your ornaments. Each ornament gets its own little cubby, thereby protecting it from knocking into other ornaments or cracking if anyone should drop the box. These ornament boxes can be stored on top of each other, and many have zippers to close them up, so you can be sure that you won’t find any critters in your bags next year.
As you’re packing everything up in new boxes, don’t forget the most important step: Label everything for next year.
Categorize your packing
There’s nothing more frustrating than opening a box of Christmas decorations and having to dig through just to find your stockings. When you don’t do the work of organizing yourself as you’re taking down decorations, then you’re going to have a tough time of it next year.
This year, take the time to make yourself as organized as possible. Separate your decorations however makes sense to you — just do it in a way that will make putting up decorations much easier next year. You can:
- Organize by room: Put all of your living room decorations in one box and decorations for your front yard in another box.
- By type of decor: If you’re putting up the tree, then all the ornaments should be in one or several nearby boxes, along with garland and lights.
When you’re packing, make sure you add a few extra tools to the box that you’ll need next year: think ornament hooks, command strips or ribbons. This will make things easier next year when you find you’re a few command strips short and unable to hang your stockings.
Empty out unused decor
As you’re dragging out boxes to repack your decorations, you’ll probably come across a lot of decor that you didn’t use or bother to put up. Maybe the decorations have gone out of style — remember those animatronic figures of Santa? — or maybe you’ve moved and no longer have the space for all your decorations. Or at the very least, maybe you’re just plain tired of some of your decor and want to do something different next year.
Spring cleaning will start eventually, so you might as well start with the cleaning-out process now.
As you’re going through, take out the decorations you want to get rid of and place them in a separate bin away from the other decor so you won’t accidentally mix them back in with the decor you want to keep.
Once you’ve finished packing away the things you do want to keep, you have a few options for your unused decor:
- Drop it off at a second-hand store: So long as nothing is broken or damaged, a second-hand store will take your unused decorations. Drop them off and get a receipt for your taxes.
- Sell them online: This won’t work for every type of decor, but if you have some common, basic decor — evergreen garland, strands of white lights that work or a set of colored glass balls for a tree — you may be able to sell it on letgo or Facebook Marketplace. You won’t be able to get a lot of money for them, but you could help someone else who wants to make their home look beautiful next year.
Getting rid of decorations will free up space in your attic or basement for decorations that you do want or make way for some better use of the space itself.
Use hooks for lights, garland and wreaths
Have you ever reached into a box of holiday decor and pulled out a string of lights that is completely tangled? If this happens to you every year — and makes you spend 20 minutes just getting them untangled and unwrapped — then it’s time to do something to help yourself out net year.
Rather than box up your lights, garland and wreaths where they might get tangled, pick up some hooks and hang them on a spare wall in your basement or attic. None of these materials will be at risk for moths or other pests, so it’s easier to just hang them up in the open where they won’t get tangled before next year. They’re also easy to grab and carry up or downstairs, which is great for younger children that want to help out.
Use airtight containers for fabrics
How do you keep your holiday stockings, throw pillows, blankets and other fabrics looking nice all year round? Store them in airtight containers to keep them safe from pests while you’re not using them.
When stored for so long in spaces where the temperature can fluctuate drastically, fabrics can take on a musty smell that can be overwhelming when you toss it onto your couch. No one’s going to want to snuggle up with those blankets or put candy in the stockings, so instead, place these items and any fabrics in an airtight container to keep them safe.
Mice especially love to make a nest out of fabrics, so if you’re storing fabrics in your attic, then they need to be packed away where they won’t become a home for mice. The last thing you want next year is to find a family of mice in your stockings.
Recycle holiday cards
There’s nothing like receiving holiday cards from your loved ones. Your first instinct may be to keep the cards year in and year out to look back on the kind things your friends and family members have said, but keeping all of those cards every year will only take up more space in your attic or basement.
Don’t save all your cards every year. Sort them and toss the ones that are signed with little else. If they come with a photo of your nieces or nephews, save them in a photo album or clip them out of the front of the card.
In fact, you could even turn some of those holiday cards into a memorable keepsake. Pick up a scrapbook or a photo album at your local craft store and file the cards you want to keep. This will preserve the photos as well as the kind words your family members and friends have sent. If you like scrapbooking, make pages for each year and decorate them with stickers and wrapping paper. Doing this every year can be a fun way to recap the year and see how your friends and family members have grown or changed.
Take photos of your decor
If you like to change up how you do your decor every year, then it can be difficult to remember how you had it all set up from year to year. Moreover, it can be difficult to remember how you packed everything up. What makes sense now in January may be incomprehensible to you in November after a year of thinking about everything else but your Christmas decorations.
Thankfully, it’s really easy to help yourself remember how to put up your decorations next year — and even remember how you organized all of your boxes.
Before you take your decorations down, take photos of how you had everything set up. Get it all from multiple angles and don’t forget your place settings at your table. Next year, you can use the photos for reference as you’re doing your decorations. You can also use the photos to make adjustments to your design. When you have photos, you’ll be able to tweak your designs until you get them just right.
You can also take photos of your storage setup so you remember where you put everything. If you’ve ever found a piece of decor in January that you were looking for November, then you know that taking photos can help you find everything next year. Keep everything stored on your photo or computer, and you can even set an alert on your phone for net November, reminding yourself to check the photos.
In a way, it’s sad to pack up all the Christmas decorations again. It means the holiday season and all that it entails — holiday parties, time off school and work, delicious cookies and quality time together — is over once again, and it’s time to go back to the real world. But in a way, taking down decorations can remind you that other great times are on the horizon.
Before you know it, spring will breeze right in, and it will be time to plant flowers, ride bikes with kids and play a game of catch in the backyard. Now’s the time to get your decorations out of the way to make room for the good times ahead.
Share with us: What do you find to be the most frustrating part of taking down your holiday decor? Tell us in the comments!