Learn my step-by-step process I use every year to remember exactly where I put my holiday décor and how I keep it all damage-free. Updated December 2020
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.
1. Go Shopping!
“What?? You want me to buy more things to add to my already-huge collection?” Well, yes. Holiday décor is so much cheaper after Christmas is over. You can buy wrapping paper for less than a dollar, ribbons and bows for $.50, décor 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. I buy them at Walmart for about $7 and they last forever. I also love these totes for storing ornaments because they come with sturdy dividers.
Want a quick project? This post shows you how to store ornaments the DIY way.
2. 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 décor 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 it up. This includes tree ornaments and books. Most people tend to forget that these things get dusty just like your photo frames and mantel décor.
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 décor, ceramics, etc. There is no “right” way to do this, just do whatever works best for you.
Give each tote a clear label stating exactly the contents’ category inside. If you’re packing based on room, label the tote with the exact room the items will go in. If you’re packing by grouping, use concise words like “outdoor lights” or “pillows and blankets” to make finding certain pieces easier next year.
You can make your own labels by printing them on paper and taping with heavy duty packing tape, or if you have a Cricut machine, you can make vinyl labels. You can also write on the tote with a thick Sharpie if you don’t want to make labels at all.
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 décor 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. But if there is a casualty, at least you can say you did your best. Can’t win ’em all, right?
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, girlfriend! These decorations mean a lot to your family. Treat them with care and fill the totes only 3/4 of the way full.
As you fill the totes, take note of everything you’ve included inside. This may sound a little crazy, but when you’ve got a lot of holiday décor, you may not always put every single thing out each year. By keeping a log, you’ll save yourself from tearing through five totes labeled “Kid’s Stuff” to find that Elf.
I made this chart using a simple Google Doc, but you can totally just write on a piece of scrap paper.
Find a safe place to store your containers that doesn’t 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’ll 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.
Want more storage tips? Follow along on Pinterest for an organization inspiration overload!
Need A Step-by-Step Guide to Rocking the Holidays?
Grab the Printable Holiday Planner from my Binder Kit Library. It has November and December calendars, Black Friday shopping and gift-giving lists, party planning sheets, wrapping paper and greeting card lists, and even a tradition tracker for next year. I use this planner for Thanksgiving and Christmas every single year, and it keeps me from stress-eating all the turkey and Santa’s cookies while no one is looking. (Sorry, Santa!)