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How to Store Holiday Decorations According to the Experts

A woman holds a box of Christmas decorations.
perfectlab/Shutterstock.com

Right now, most of us are enjoying basking in the glowing light of our Christmas trees. Eventually, though, the time will come to take it down, and yes, that day will be sad. However, according to a couple of experts, there are a few ways you can make it better.

We spoke with Kate Pawlowski and Ann Lightfoot, founders of Done & Done Home, about how best to deconstruct and store all of those holiday decorations. From figuring out what to take down first to decluttering as you go, the organization gurus had a lot of helpful suggestions.

If you’re already dreading the mess of disassembling those lights, ornaments, and winter-themed décor pieces, check these tips from two experts.

In What Order Should You Take Down Your Decorations?

Christmas decorations sit in a box.
TanyaJoy/Shutterstock.com

According to Pawlowski and Lightfoot, there’s no specific order in which your decorations should come down. They pointed out that everyone’s storage process is individual, but they did recommend putting it all away in the reverse order that you put it up.

Take tinsel, for example; if it was the last thing you put on your tree, it should be the first thing that comes down. The same is true of how you store your seasonal décor. If your lights go up first, they should be the last thing you place in storage.

When you de-Christmas your home this way, you’re actually prepping for next year. The pieces you’ll need first (like your lights) will be the first items you can pull out of storage because you put them away last. Basically, you’re being considerate to your future self.

How to Keep Your Holiday Décor Organized in Storage

Disorganized christmas decor is in boxes.
Varvara Serebrova/Shutterstock.com

Once you’ve figured out how how to take down your decorations, the next step is figuring out how exactly you want to store them. The containers are an important part of the process, according to Pawlowski and Lightfoot. They recommend sturdy, well-sealed bins and boxes, and labeling as you go.

“Visibility is going to be your biggest ally when the holidays roll around again,” the pair said. “Think clearly, label logically, and be specific. For example, don’t just write ‘Christmas’ on the outside of a box, write ‘Outdoor Christmas lights—white.'”

While a label maker is a great way to ensure your bins and boxes are correctly labeled, our experts said colored masking tape will also work just fine. You can also color-code based on the specific holiday, such as red for Christmas, orange for Halloween, and so on. Then, you just write whatever’s in the bins on the tape. This way, you have a visual system, even without a label maker.

As for those bins, Pawlowski and Lightfoot recommend the clear kind with locking lids.

“Holiday decorations typically end up in storage units, garages, attics, or basements,” the pair said. “You need something that will protect your items from water and insects over time. Additionally, the clear plastic will allow you to locate and organize your whole stash more easily.”

When it comes time to move items into those labeled bins, they recommend grouping your items into categories, based on your own preferences.

“If you prefer to keep all of your garland together, make sure one bin is set aside for all the greenery you have,” Pawlowski and Lightfoot said. “If it makes more sense for you to do it by room, then that will work too.”

IRIS USA TB Pearl Plastic Storage Bin

Clear storage bins allow you to see everything inside.

How to Store Fragile Décor

A little girl stands next to a wreath holder.
Homz Holiday

Some décor can’t just be tossed in a bin. Fragile pieces, like glass ornaments and wreaths, have to be protected. Pawlowski and Lightfoot recommend choosing a storage solution specifically for those items to properly protect them.

“You don’t want to start off your holidays on a sad note when you unwrap a cherished possession only to find it has broken in storage,” the pair said.

To avoid starting off next year’s holiday season depressed, consider getting a storage solution specifically for ornaments, with segmented grids to protect each piece. Pawlowski and Lightfoot also suggest choosing one that’s waterproof and seals shut to keep out the elements, bugs, dust, and grime. This is especially helpful if you store your holiday items in a garage, attic, or basement.

Zober Plastic Christmas Ornament Storage Box

Organized and safe, just the way you want them.

There’s also special storage for wreaths. Because they often have small breakable pieces or lights, keeping them in a hardshell, snap-close case is best. Pawlowski and Lightfoot recommend this wreath storage box from Homz Holiday.

Homz Holiday Wreath Plastic Storage Box

Keep those holiday wreaths safe until next year.

How to Declutter Your Holiday Decorations

A box is full of Christmas ornaments.
Zober

Each year, retailers launch new holiday decorations, and you’re probably tempted to purchase more every season (we are). Unfortunately, that ultimately leads to clutter. As much as we all love the new cute holiday items every year, eventually, you’re going to run out of space to display it all. Of course, decluttering might be harder than you think.

“The items are often infused with wonderful memories and each and every piece can appear to be sentimental,” Pawlowski and Lightfoot said. “But the truth is, some things may feel special, but you have to ask yourself if that’s actually true.”

When the time comes to start culling your collection, the pair recommends you work by category. For example, put all of your ornaments out so you can see them, and then choose five must-keeps and five you know you won’t miss. Keep repeating this process until you’ve gone through the whole lot.

If you want to avoid the need to declutter altogether, Pawlowski and Lightfoot said it’s all about intention.

“Never buy something simply because it’s on sale, and commit to the one in, one out rule. If you see something in the store and you think you must have it, know that when you get home, you’ll have to get rid of a similar item you already own.”

Understandably, all of this might seem like too much to deal with after the nonstop activities of the holiday season. Thinking about organizing and carefully storing your Christmas items might be the last thing you want to think about. Again, though, Pawlowski and Lightfoot remind us that the key is to remember how much work you’ll be saving yourself next year.

“If you can just stick it out for a little longer and intentionally pack things up, the holidays next year will start off on the right foot.”


When the holidays are over, it’s not unusual to feel exhausted. You might be tempted to just throw your decorations and tree in any old box, any old way, and sort it all out next year. That’s why right now is the perfect time to prep for your upcoming de-Christmasing session. Trust us, you’ll thank yourself next year!

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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