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Christmas has come and gone and it’s that dreaded time of the year when we have to put away all of our decorations. Why is it that it seems so fun and exciting to put them up but so daunting and boring to take them down? Well don’t procrastinate any longer. Let’s get started and pack them up safely and carefully so we can enjoy them again and again.
Step One: Go Shopping! “What?? You want me to buy more things to add to my already-huge collection?” Yes. Holiday decor is so much cheaper after Christmas is over. You can buy wrapping paper for less than a dollar, ribbons and bows for $.50, decor for 70-90% off, and food containers for pennies and dimes. Take a look around your local stores to see what clearance items they have left. Retailers mark down holiday items to deep discounts so they can get rid of them without having to MOS (mark out of stock) and trash them. They would rather make some money than none at all, and that tactic works in your favor. While you’re at the store, pick up some extra totes with sturdy lids. You probably already have some but you’ll always need two to three more, depending on how much you’ve added to your collection this year. These totes are great and the only kind I use. I buy them at Walmart for about $6 and they last forever. They also sell inserts to put inside to separate and organize small contents.
Step Two: Deep Clean. No one wants to open up containers of decorations covered in year-old dust. Take the extra time now to give everything a good scrub. This not only saves time next year, but will extend the life of your decor by many years. Wash all blankets, slip covers, pillow covers, rugs, towels, and anything else you can put in the washing machine. Even if you never used that throw blanket that sat rolled up in a basket all season, it still needs to be washed to stay fresh. Dust every single item before you pack as well. This includes tree ornaments and books. Most people tend to forget that these things get dusty just like your photo frames and mantel decor.
Step Three: Organize. Line up your totes and separate your items into categories. You can organize however you’d like. If you always put things in the same place every year, you could separate by room and make it easier for unpacking. If you like to mix things up yearly, fill containers by type like linens, books and artwork, shelf decor, ceramics, etc. There is no “right” way to do this, just do whatever works best for you.
Step Four: Prepare. Every year, I lose at least one item because I didn’t pack it carefully enough and it got damaged beyond repair. Be sure you have a large stock of packing supplies like individual boxes for special items, bubble wrap for fragile figurines, and thick corrugated paper to go in between dishes. It’s also very helpful to wrap string lights around a piece of cardboard (like a cut-off box flap) so they don’t get tangled. The best way to wrap your holiday decor is think “If I were to ship this to the other side of the country, would it make it there safely?” By using this mindset, you’re sure to have every single piece to display again next year.
Step Five: Fill. Now is the time to fill those totes. Try not to pack them too tight or stuff items in that don’t fit very well. It may seem enticing to cram as much as you can into each container to save space (and another trip to the store to buy one more) but don’t do it. These decorations mean a lot to your family. Treat them with care and fill the totes only 3/4 of the way full.
Step Six: Store. Find a safe place to store your containers that does not encounter severe temperature changes or weather conditions. A basement or garage is ideal, but if you don’t have either of those, consider purchasing a small storage building for your back yard or renting one. They don’t cost very much to rent if you choose a really little one and you can be sure that they will be safe from the elements. If none of these are an option for you, you can use your under-house crawl space or attic as a last resort. But keep in mind that these places are very likely to damage your items. Take extra care packing each tote, wrap the tote in waterproof trash bags, sit them on top of a tarp, and cover with another tarp. If you have an artificial tree, make sure it is packed carefully and wrapped in a waterproof tree bag. *Note: Don’t store candles outdoors or in attics, no matter what kind of building you are using. Find a closet inside your home for them.
How do you store your holiday decor? What works for you and what doesn’t? Share your experiences below.
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