There’s nothing like the dawning of Dec. 26 to make you see your holiday decorations in a brand new light. Festive and sparkly becomes gaudy and tacky. Christmas collections become Christmas clutter. It’s clearly time to pack it all away.
Getting the decorations out each year and sharing memories as you carefully unwrap each piece is a joyful experience.
Rounding up the plastic tubs when it’s all over is a chore. So what’s the best plan of attack to get everything taken down and ready to go next December?
Home designer and stager Michele Kurelich says it is worth the time to develop a packing strategy that includes thinking backward.
“I always decorate my foyer table and family room first, so those will be the last items I take down this year and will be at the top of the pile for next year,” Kurelich said.
You save time next year if you’re not digging through all the storage containers looking for that one thing.
It is best to have a dedicated spot to protect and store ornaments. You have many precious memories invested in these items.
Boxes designed for ornament storage that include individual sections mean you save time on wrapping and trying to protect loose baubles from banging into each other. No bubble wrap necessary if you use a strong, divided ornament box.
After the ornaments come down carefully remove the lights. Wrap the good strands around those cardboard tubes from rolls of paper towels. They won’t be tangled when you get them out next year and you can plug them in and test them without unwrapping.
Catherine Gullison, a mother of two, streamlines the process. For the small trees in each of her son’s bedrooms, she packs them away with the ornaments still attached.
Gullison likes to work quickly in the days after Christmas. “I like to start the year with a clean house,” she said.
If you store an artificial tree without removing lights and ornaments, consider throwing an old bed sheet over it so you don’t have a dusty decoration next year.
The best thing to do with the outside decorations, once you take them down, is not to drag them very far into the house. Keep them as close to the outside, or at least a door, as you can.
Sometimes the weather has more say than you do in this process. If the lights are still frozen in place at Valentine’s Day, do the neighbors a favor and refrain from switching them on. Just wait. There will be a thaw.
One of your best lines of defense is to label. Right now you can tell the difference in the blue plastic tub with the snowmen and the other blue plastic tub with the candles, but just wait until a year from now.
You can invest in a label maker and go crazy with item descriptions. Or you can buy a roll of masking tape and a permanent marker and jot down some abbreviations. The goal is to know what’s in a container without opening the lid.
“If there is a system in place that works for you then the putting away seems less daunting,” says Lynda Rothman, a professional organizer.
There’s No Rush
Homeowner Michelle Patton hates packing it all away too soon.
“Every decoration I either made or has a special memory of when and where it was bought,” said Patton. “My mother and I shop every year the day after Christmas for decoration bargains so they make me think of my Mom and our traditions.”
Whether it’s sooner or later, a little bit of organization goes a long into making next year a little easier. And December will be here again sooner than you think.
By Carla Turchetti