Holiday decorations are basically collections. They are important and hold memories of the many years you have used them. Re-using decorations really rides on storing them properly, and organizing those properly stored decorations will allow you to easily find exactly what you need! The goal is to eliminate, sort, contain and label all of your holiday decorations and supplies, so let’s get down to the nitty gritty on how to do that! (Check out our tips from last year as well!)

Before we start – quick note about bins! Don’t go out and buy a bunch of bins for a project before you know exactly what you need! Especially if you are wanting to edit and eliminate some of your decoration collection, you don’t want to buy bins for items that you are getting rid of anyway! 

1. Do this BEFORE the holiday season 

The holiday season is cRaZy (to say the least). Organizing all of your stuff before you need it will help this hectic time go smoother. You also want to donate the things you are getting rid of to a charity in time for them to have them out so that someone else can use them! 

2. Put everything in one room or area to prep for the holiday

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  • Rally the troops and get every single decoration you have, whether it is neatly stored in your closet or in the black hole in the back of your unfinished basement area. Go through each room of your house (including the garage – check for lights and yard decorations!) and get all of the decorations together in one area. Doing this will help you to get an accurate visual of just how much you have. When you are picking an area to work on this, choose a room that you won’t need for several days or weeks (depending on how much time you have to organize your decorations). Also remember that organizing your holiday decorations is a simple but time consuming process. It will probably take you a season or two to get your things reduced to the essentials. Give yourself grace and don’t try to finish it in a day or even a week! 

3. Holiday Pre-Sorting

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  • Start at the door and move clockwise around your room or area. Start by separating everything by holiday. (You don’t want a Halloween goblin sneaking up on you when you go to find your red, white and blue platter on Memorial Day!) This is a great opportunity to just go ahead and set aside anything you absolutely hate and know you don’t want to use again. Go ahead and just start a ‘donate’ and ‘trash’ pile. 
  • Some holidays (like Halloween and Christmas) are going to have a lot more supplies than others. (This is why I suggest doing this before buying bins so that you know exactly what you need.) Within the holidays that have a lot of decor/supplies, you are going to want to sort your decorations into categories such as tree ornaments, lights, table decorations, outside decorations etc.

4. Holiday Sorting

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  • When you are done getting stuff into general categories, go to each and empty everything out of that box/area. Look at each item and ask yourself if you really love it, want to keep it around, and will really use it again! **If you haven’t used anything in a couple of years, chances of you starting to use it again are very low** If you are iffy on tossing something, make a “maybe” box. Tape this box up and store it away. If you remember something in there, you still have it and can get it out. Next year when you get everything out to decorate, whatever is still in that box needs to go! 

5. Categorize

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  • Once you have done a weed-out of the stuff you don’t want to keep, (whether that means you are gifting it to a friend or relative to use, donating it to a thrift store or charity, or tossing it out if it is beyond repair) you are ready to put everything into categories! 
  • Remember, you want to be able to find things easily, so group them the way that you think about your stuff. I like to organize by type of item, or by the room that they go in!

Outdoor Decorations

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Lights

  • Whatever type of lights you use, store them so that you can take them out of the box next year, test them and hang them. The best way to store lights are using these reels. This keeps your strands from getting tangled, and hopefully saves some bulbs from breaking! 

Wreaths

  • I suggest using soft-sided Wreath Storage or using trash bags. The tarp-style bags allow for the wreath to fit better. The only downside is that you can’t stack them like you can the hard containers. However, the bags hang really well by the handles. There are often studs in storage areas like unfinished basements or garages. You can use a nail or hook. If your wreath is heavy, maybe opt for a more heavy duty hook to hang it up. 

The Tree

  • If you have the space, a Tree Storage Bag is a great way to go. Personally, I hang my tree upside down from the basement storage room ceiling! This way it stays all together and allows for me to easily move it upstairs when that time of year rolls around again. 

Ornaments

  • For really sentimental or ornate, breakable ones, I usually suggest keeping their original boxes and storing them in there. These boxes are made to fit that ornament perfectly and will ensure it doesn’t get broken (plus they stack really nicely in the container!) I also suggest using these totes designed to store ornaments (although they work best for very simple, classic globe types). Small ornaments fit easily into egg cartons ~ just place the ornaments in the twelve compartments, lay some tissue on top and close it. Cardboard or styrofoam cartons work! 

Tree Extras

  • This includes things like the tree skirt, lights for the tree, tree stand, or topper! Use the same rule for the lights that go on the tree as you did for the outdoor lights and use the reels. Place the tree stand in first, since it is probably the biggest. You can fit the light reels, skirt and topper around it. I usually like to pad the topper with the skirt just to make sure it stays looking good as new!

Decorations

  • This is the category that I would do by room! 
  • Storing things by room allows for you to take that bin into its designated space and start unpacking – no running around. 
  • Remember to wrap breakables well and stack things in the bin so that there is no chance breakables can get damaged.

Wrapping Materials

6. Contain

  • After you have weeded through all of your stuff, and have everything in its proper group, you can see what size of containers you are going to need! It’s a good idea to get storage containers that are colored according to what is in them. I really like these orange and black ones for Halloween and these red and green ones for Christmas, but a lot of people really like to use clear containers so that they can see what specifically is in each one. 

7. Label

  • Even if you are using clear containers, you don’t want to have to play the guessing game! All of your bins are stacked so nicely, but how does that help you if you don’t know what is in them?? Label the general category as well as specific or unique items that are in that container. (For example, I might have a “Kitchen” bin. I would label it “Kitchen Decorations” and underneath that title write “-platters -runner -santa dish -table setting -cookie containers” etc.)

Other Holiday Organizing Tips

  • When it comes time to put everything away, think about how you are going to want to take it out next year. For example, don’t bury the Christmas tree and stand behind the ornaments. Keep the Easter baskets accessible and remember you will most likely start baking before you set up the tree. 
  • You don’t have to decorate using everything every year. We have a K-State tree that goes up on the landing (Go Cats!) and our main tree with family ornaments in our living room. When my girls were little, we would use every single ornament on that main tree, but as they have gotten older we have simplified some. 
  • Separate out stuff for your kids now and add to it each year. This way it won’t be such an overwhelming task. When my girls leave the house, I will give them their ornaments from over the years. We have started storing them by each other but in separate boxes. That way when the time comes, it isn’t such a daunting task to separate them all out.