Tricks for storing holiday decorations so you can actually use them again

January 9 | Guest post by Ange

I love Christmas decos — it's a chance to hide all the bits of the house I don't like. But by March or April I really have to take them down again. Some years I've managed to leave the lights up until October and got away with never taking them down, but the tree has to go before winter or I can't use the fireplace.

Luckily, I've gotten really good at putting those decorations away so I can use them again next Christmas — no more broken baubles on the slate floor.

Egg cartons are great for storing baubles and fragile ornaments

spongebob ornaments in egg crate

Pack each ornament into a section then top the carton with a layer of tissue before closing it and taping shut. The tape will stop the lid popping off and everything rolling onto the floor when you reopen the box in December.

Use a plastic takeaway container

delicate ornaments in tupperware

Layer the ornaments into the box and top with a layer of tissue, pushing the tissue into the gaps between the ornaments.

protecting ornaments

Use zip lock bags too

tinsel in ziplocs

Non-fragile ornaments such as beaded chains, tinsel chains, plastic, card and paper ornaments can be stored in zip lock bags and stacked into a larger box.

Here's my secret to packing away Christmas lights

putting away lights

Get yourself some cardboard rolls (the kind your cling film and aluminium foil come on) and cut a slit into each end about 2cm long.

Remove the plug adaptor from the lights if you can and loop the plain wire into a loose bundle. Secure with a cable tie or piece of wire (don't use tape!)

wrapping lights

Starting with your end light bulb unhook the lights from the tree and gently loop them over your arm. When you're done lay them down on the carpet so you can wind them onto the cardboard roll.

wrapping lights 2

Hook the plain wire end (nearest the end that plugs into the wall) into the slit in the roll and start winding on the lights. A cling film roll will hold a set of 180 lights.

wrapping lights 3

Keep winding until you get to the last light on the end of the roll and hook it into the slit on the other end of the roll; this will make it easier to put the lights up next year because you've got your top light first.

Wrap the roll in bubble wrap, place into a box (a shoe box is about right) with the adapter plug (put it under the lights so it doesn't break any) and store in a dry place until December.

Packing up Christmas trees

Real trees, summer heat, and my computers don't mix so I have an artifical tree that's served me well for more than ten years — I finally have the hang of putting it away each year:

  • The silly skinny box your Christmas tree came in is too small, so chuck it out!
  • Fold your tree back up by pressing the small branches back into the main branches and pressing the main branches back into the trunk until the tree is compacted down to it's smallest size (but mysteriously still twice the size of the box it came in). Pull the tree into pieces if, like mine, it splits into two.
  • Do yourself a favour and glue the silly plastic base together so you never lose any of the legs!
  • Place the tree and base into a large (clean) garbage bag and tie or tape the top shut. If your bag is too small (or tree too large) cut a hole in the bottom and let the trunk through — so you can seal the top shut.

Store the tree flat in your attic, top cupboard or under the bed and the plastic bag will prevent it picking up any dust, lint, or bugs until December.

What are your sneaky holiday decor packing tricks?

  1. My mom always put her tree into a trash can with a lid, which she just wrapped with tape so we could store it in our storage shed without worrying about mice getting into it.
    My mom also had a really awesome trick for the base of the tree. She got a hollowed out log to slip up over the bottom of the tree pole, so the tree looked like it had a real trunk. She then put it down in a base like this, which is way sturdier than those plastic feet that come with artificial trees. I think they've begun making bases like this for artificial trees.

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    • I've done that with a few of our artificial trees by drilling a hole into a block of wood for a base – it stops the wee things blowing away in the wind!!

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  2. I moved to a new house recently, and I got a lot of great, heavy duty boxes from the liquor store. Almost all of them have cardboard dividers inside – great for creating lots of little compartments for Christmas ornaments! Plus, the stores around my area always have loads of the boxes sitting near the door so they are easy to get, and the stores are happy to have you take them.

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  3. My family has a habit of keeping the boxes ornaments came in and putting them back in those boxes. It can be annoying to have to search for the specific box for each ornament. Unless there's something SUPER breakable, this method of placing them in boxes in groups with some tissue to prevent shifting is a GREAT idea.

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  4. I was once able to get our tree back into the box it came in. :) Epic win! Yes I'm that good at folding trees. Now I have a storage tub I got at the store that's supposed to be a good size for fake trees. Works pretty good.

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    • Me too! Only I actually have room in my box! So all of my Xmas decorations go in there with the tree. Then you ahve a kind of Xmas explosion in the loungeroom when you open the box next year!

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  5. I saved and reused the boxes from glass ornaments and would store them empty in the empty tree box when I got the tree out for the season. Then I could put the ornaments back in the boxes when xmas/yuletide was over. Paper and crafted ornaments went into a shoebox. I carefully wound the lights around and around from hand to elbow and tied them with yarn. This past holiday season the tree only stayed up a week or two after thanksgiving because I was becoming too infuriated with our two young cats for climbing and chewing on it even though we sprayed it with probably a gallon of that earwax-flavored spray.

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    • Yes, that's problem #2 I discovered with tree boxes – the cats can crawl into them but they get stuck! Amusing but not when they panic and shred your sofa in revenge…PS try hanging your tree from the ceiling next year – someone remind me to write a tutorial for that in November.

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