Updated: Feb 3
At the beginning of a holiday season, as you hurriedly locate and take out your decorations, do you say to yourself “Where did I put all the different decorations? Things are such a mess. I am going to reorganize these things at the end of the season, before putting them back, once and for all!”? And then when that time comes, we don’t have the time. One of the reasons we get into this situation is that we all love decorating for the season, and it is so tempting to buy new decorations in the store when they first go on display at the start of the season. We forget what we already have, especially those things we bought at discount prices during the closeout sales after last year’s season! The new boxes might get tucked away into a random closet or under a bed, and are virtually forgotten about.
I found myself in this predicament last month, and this blog is about how I “Tidied Up” my own decorations.
Get on top of your holiday decoration storage
Well, not literally, except if you’re a cat. This photo is from a few years ago, and even then my cat was trying to let me know that things were getting out of control. My decorations were stored in too many boxes, and too many different types of boxes: plastic containers; old shoe boxes; old gift boxes; 50 year old glass bulb boxes (the ones with the cellophane window); corrugated cardboard divider boxes; strings of lights in plastic bags, wrapped around cardboard sections, and some just in tangled messes, etc. You get the idea. It became difficult to know and remember what each box contained, especially since these things are only used once a year.
“Start with a vision”
The first step in tidying up your decorations is planning, both your space and your time.
Start with a vision. Take some time to develop your vision, based on the quantity of decorations, and where you would like them to hibernate happily together for 10 or 11 months. If your vision includes having new matching containers, purchase those ahead of time. It was helpful for me to measure the shelf space beforehand (length, width, and height) , and figure out the optimal container size that would fit on the shelves, especially if they will be stacked or placed next to one another. Alternatively, if using your existing containers, measure them and determine where they will fit best.
Pick a time. You will need to be able to devote between one and 5 hours, depending on your volume. Here is the “BEFORE” image of some of my holiday storage. So many different boxes, shapes, and sizes, and random loose items..
A few years ago we purchased an artificial tree, much to our grown children’s dismay. I even surprised myself with this purchase, as growing up I swore I would never have an artificial tree. But reality struck for me when the maintenance of setting up lights, watering the tree, vacuuming the needles, and final deconstruction of the season always fell on my shoulders. I broke down and bought a pre-lit tree, and have no regrets, and it allowed me to discard all of those frustrating light strands.
When you are ready, gather all of your decorations in one place. Pick a large open area, like a basement floor. Collect all of your decorations for one holiday season – indoor items, outdoor items, wall hangings, etc.
Next, group all similar items together. For example, create separate piles for lights, ornaments, mantle display items, wall hangings. As you go through each item to categorize, hold each piece and determine if it still sparks joy. Do you really love it? Have you been holding on to it because it was a gift someone gave you, but it doesn’t match your taste? For any piece that doesn’t spark joy, place it with gratitude into a discard pile. You may need to create multiple discard piles: those items that can be donated; those that should be tossed (ex: broken, missing parts).
"I first grouped the ornaments by color and style"
Once you have decided on your containers and have sorted through all of your items, it is time to organize! I purchased some new foldable containers that can hold dozens of ornaments. I first grouped the ornaments by color and style, then placed them in the container, using different layers.
This method worked really well for me, since I had bought some new ornaments which each had their own long-shaped box. By gathering the old and the new together I was able to combine them into one container.
Complete all of the packing before placing any container in its final destination. Create a collection of all of the newly packed containers. Add labels that describe the contents.
Complete all of the packing before placing any container in its final destination.
Final product – organized!
Now you can place your containers on your shelves (or wherever you had planned), based on your vision. They will rest there comfortably until next season, and it will spark joy when you retrieve them so easily.