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Over the past several years I've inherited so many Christmas decorations, that when we moved into our new home in July of 2018, all of the decorations took over the entire second floor of our barn. When it was time to bring in the decorations for the different holidays, it took my husband and our youngest son at least 10 trips (with a dolly full of at least 3 totes) to bring everything in.
As the holidays have been coming around, I've been going through; organizing and thinning the decorations at least a little bit. Having so many decorations that I've inherited or had personally bought over the years has taught me a few things.
1) I have too many decorations (SAID NO ONE EVER)
2) How to organize them so that ANYONE can go grab exactly what is needed/wanted whenever I ask
3) Storing my decorations the correct way has kept them usable much much longer than I had in the past.
Best Ways to Store Christmas Decorations Safely & Securely
Use Plastic Storage Totes
It really doesn't matter if they are clear or a solid color. I use a mixture of both. The plastic will help keep moisture out (which I talk about later). For protection to keep critters out, I get the totes that have the locking handles. Stack the storage totes heaviest & biggest on the bottom with the smallest and lightest totes on the top.
Put Beads in Drink Bottles
I know, it sounds super weird! I saw it on Facebook one day (if you come across the original, let me know so I can credit them for their genius hack), tried it and was like “WHAAAAAA????” But seriously, the beads don't get tangled and it's so easy to put them back on the tree.
Use a String Light-Wheel or Tote
I bought a set of lights that already came on the wheel so bonus for me! They are super easy to put back on & take back off, plus, you can slide several of the wheels into a tote and not worry about any of the lights getting broken. If you are not one who needs the wheel of thousands of lights, you can opt for a tote that has plastic light wraps that will help keep your lights from tangling also. In a pinch when I've ran out of the wheels or the plastic light wraps, I've used boxes that I had left over from shipping, like the ones below. I just cut slits to secure the light wiring and wind up.
If you have anything that has a bow that is already pretty, fluffed, and ready to display, you're going to want to keep the bows looking pretty. Take a paper towel or toilet paper rolls and put them in the middle of the loops of the bows and it will keep the bows fluffed up for you.
Don’t Crush Your Wreaths
I have a wreath that I tore apart and re-did probably 8 years ago. It still looks beautiful. I made sure to get a wreath tote. You'll have to fluff the wreath out, and if it has bows on it, do the same thing as above, put the paper rolls in the middle of the loops and your wreath will come out of the tote looking as perfect as it did when you put it in.
Wrap Ornaments Properly
If you have sentimental Ornaments, you're going to want to wrap each one in a paper towel. Make sure you stuff the box with newspaper so that you have added cushion. If you are like me and have the “shatterproof” ornaments, you can get the ornament totes and use those (Yes, if you haven't figured it out, I LOVE me some totes!). They are about the same size as regular totes, but they have sleeves that will keep your ornaments from clanking into each other.
Protect Decorations from Moisture
If you live in a humid climate using plastic containers may not be enough to protect from moisture. We have a lot of linens that we put out for get togethers. Linens are notorious for attracting moisture and can get ruined along with ruining whatever else is in the container. Place packets of silica gel in each container to avoid damage from humidity. Silica gel can be purchased at arts and craft stores. If you cannot find individual packets, you can make your own by wrapping several tablespoons of silica gel in brown lunch bags and securing with tape. Several packets should be placed throughout the box.
Guard Against Temperature Extremes
Delicate decorations, especially the ones that the kids make every year, aren't made to withstand harsh temperature changes, they can melt, stick together, or just fall apart if you don't store them the right way. If you have to store them out in a barn, cellar or even a poorly insulated attic, make sure you check on them throughout the year and make sure there isn't any moisture or that the boxes/totes become damaged. Any of the handmade ornaments put them in plastic storage bags and try to get as much of the air out of them as possible.
Label Your Totes
This year I started gradually replacing my plastic sleeve labels with decals I made with my Cricut. You can check out my Halloween Decoration Totes below. If you don't have a Cricut, you can do simple. I've used the full sheet protectors and slid a piece of printed paper with a label.
If you want, you can get really technical and write/type up exactly what is in each tote. If you do that, you'll know what goes in what tote also. I've heard of people also taking photos and taping them on the sides of the inside of the totes as well. Don't put the sheet protectors on the outside. They will get damaged, also, make sure you tape all 3 sides, leaving the open side accessible, in case you change out totes or update the labels.
Toss the Trash
As you're going through what you're actually going to put up around the house, sort the items out in 4 piles; KEEP, TRASH, SELL & DONATE. If the items have been broken, faded, chipped away, etc, just throw them in the garbage. If they are still in great shape, but not really worth much, you can sell as a lot, or you can donate them to an organization.
If you choose to donate; Hospice Centers are great ones to donate to around the holidays. Families are there spending, often the last moments of their loved one's life. A few decorations around the room can help lighten the mood. We set up a Christmas Tree in my mom's Hospice Room before she passed. Had all of our initials on individual ornaments and a star on top. It wasn't much, but it was something and she loved it. It made her smile. We also decorated her room.
If you are not one to use totes and prefer to use storage boxes, make sure you're replacing them every couple of years. The cutting, opening, moving, lifting, pushing, pulling, etc will wear the corrugated boxes down and they will be useless at protecting your decorations.