This may be the most wonderful time of the year, but the huge holiday mess can also make it the most hectic. Not only do you need to find a place in your home for all the holiday gifts–you also need to get rid of gift boxes and pack away your holiday decorations so that you will know where they are next year, and so they will still be in one piece. Don’t fear! These 6 tips will make your post-holiday cleanup a breeze, and make next year’s holiday preparations a joy instead of a headache.
1. Here’s the Best Wreath Storage to Keep Your Wreath Beautiful for Next Year
Wreaths are a beautiful part of the holiday season, and a well made artificial or dried wreath can last for years. A nice wreath is expensive to replace though, and improper wreath storage can leave your wreaths broken, misshapen or covered with dust. Have you ever tried to dust a wreath? We don’t recommend it.
Protect your wreaths by storing them correctly. Many home stores sell containers that are specially made for storing wreaths, and these are great options for keeping your wreaths safe. If you’d rather go the DIY route, Home Storage Solutions 101 recommends sealing your wreaths in black garbage bags, and hanging them in a safe spot to avoid the risk of them being crushed. Better Homes and Gardens suggests re-purposing unused hat boxes, which are often just the right size and shape to protect your wreaths. Whatever you decide, be sure to select a storage method that protects your wreaths from dust and breakage.
2. Keep Your Christmas Lights Safe so They Will Sparkle Next Year
Whether you string them on the outside of your home or just on the Christmas tree, Christmas lights are an essential part of holiday décor. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without bright, sparkling strings of color.
But if you store your lights the wrong way, you may not be able to find them next year. If you do find them, you may discover a tangled and/or broken mess. Trying to de-tangle a huge knot of Christmas lights can make even the most even tempered person want to pull their hair out.
Don’t let that person be you! Use safe, tangle-proof Christmas light storage, and you’ll be thanking yourself next year. First, keep indoor and outdoor lights separate. Then gently wrap each string of lights around a piece of cardboard or a used wrapping paper tube, and secure the ends to the cardboard with low-tack masking tape. Then pack the lights in a box with bubble wrap or another cushioning material between them, and label the box clearly.
3. Keep Candles Cool and Cushioned
Candles give your holiday a warm glow, but they can become damaged, discolored or melted if you don’t store them properly. Better Homes and Gardens recommends wrapping each candle in cellophane (not plastic wrap or waxed paper, which can stick to candles). Then pack them in a sturdy box and store them in the coolest place available, such as the basement.
4. Sort and Label Decorations
Once the holiday is over, it’s tempting to just throw everything in boxes and be done with it. Give in to that temptation, though, and next year you will find yourself digging through the basement looking for those special ornaments and cursing yourself for not being more organized.
To make next year’s holiday prep a pleasure instead of a headache, sort and label holiday items before you store them. Group lights, candles, ornaments, and linens together, and clearly mark the boxes for each. Then store all of the holiday boxes together, so that they will be easy to find next year.
5. Trim the Excess ASAP
The Christmas season always leaves your home packed with more stuff than it had before. Piles of empty boxes, old toys discarded in favor of new ones and those gifts that you just know you won’t use (“white elephants”) can leave you buried in a pile of clutter.
To avoid clutter overload, get rid of the excess ASAP. Donate any toys your children no longer want, and temporarily store toys that your kids don’t want to part with, but have been pushed aside in favor of new, shiny Christmas gifts.
Empty gift boxes are perfect for carrying items to be donated, and for storing older toys. You can also cut up empty boxes to make pieces of cardboard to wrap your Christmas lights around for storage (see tip #2).
For those gifts you just won’t use, such as the margarita blender your Aunt Cindy got you even though you don’t drink, donate them or store them in a closet for re-gifting. If you decide to re-gift, label each gift with a note telling who gave you the gift, to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation. For another option, home organization maven Cynthia Ewer recommends holding an “after-Christmas white elephant exchange,” or exchanging unwanted books on an online book-swap site. Ewer also recommends discarding any worn or broken decorations before you store them. Getting rid of the excess right away will make your post-holiday season calm, not cluttered.
6. Protect Fragile Items to Avoid Breakage
Whether it’s a treasured family heirloom or a delicate beauty you bought more recently, many Christmas decorations are fragile and easily broken. No one wants to excitedly open a box of decorations, only to find that they’ve lost treasured ornaments to breakage.
Protect your beautiful decorations by storing them properly. For glass ornaments, Better Homes and Gardens recommends using divided liquor or wine boxes. These boxes are sturdy, and will give each ornament its own individual compartment. For extra protection, line each compartment with felt before you put the ornaments in the box. For some multi-piece items, such as nativity scenes, keeping and re-using the original packaging may be the best option. If you want to bubble wrap delicate ornaments, Better Homes and Gardens warns not to put the bubble wrap directly against the ornaments, where it may adhere and cause discoloration. Instead, wrap each ornament in acid-free tissue paper, and then add bubble wrap.
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