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.
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.
Another option is to use a plastic takeaway container. Layer the ornaments into the box and top with a layer of tissue, pushing the tissue into the gaps between the ornaments.
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. 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!)
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.
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.
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.
Now, to 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.