By Lea Schneider (Special to Freddie Mac)
The decorations that are so exciting to hang up can be just as daunting to take down as we move from the season of "Deck the Halls" to the season of "What do I do with it all?"
Undecorating your halls with some organizing tips in mind can make decorating next year so much easier. Being able to find what you need and know right where it goes is not only faster, but much less stressful. The added bonus to carefully putting things away is being able to preserve your treasures for years to come.
What Goes Up Must Come Down
Start with your Christmas tree in your plan to undecorate. It's usually one of the larger tasks, and getting it out of the way makes everything else seem simpler. Some hacks will help you make short work of this:
- If your tree is real, spread a sheet underneath it to catch falling dry needles. You can roll it up and shake it outside.
- Start with ornaments. Remove them one at a time and box them. Using an ornament keeper with dividers will help protect them. Add tissue paper or bubble wrap to cushion fragile ones.
- Remove any garlands. As you unwrap them from the tree, wrap them around a stiff piece of cardboard or plastic to keep them untangled.
- If you have removable lights, treat them as you did the garlands. If you have multiple strands of lights around the house, be sure to store the ones for your tree with your tree decorations so that next year you'll know right away which lights to use.
Tangle-Free Light Storage
One of the most frustrating things is being excited to decorate but having to stop and untangle lights or fix broken bulbs. Putting them away carefully will make next year so much easier.
- Once you hang strands across the front of the house or on a pine out front, you've already figured out which strand works there. Don't start all over next year! Use a roll of painters' tape and a permanent marker to label each strand of lights with its proper location.
- If you have swaged lights, in loops, put a bit of tape at the place on part of the cord that hangs so that next year it will be easy to have them hang evenly.
- Wrap lights around a piece of cardboard or a designated light organizer instead of just around themselves.
Protecting Your Heirlooms
Your home's decorations are an investment you have made over time. They may even include precious hand-me-downs from grandparents. Take some of these steps to keep them safe.
- Use plastic or canvas tubs with tight-fitting lids to keep out pests.
- Wrap items in bubble wrap or tissue paper, but be careful of colored paper, which may stain your treasures.
- Separate out items that might be damaged by attic heat, like candles, or basement dampness, like needlework, and store them in a climate-controlled closet or under-the-bed storage box.
- For decorating ease, store items in tubs by room. For example, put all of the den decor in one box.
- Label boxes clearly, and store all your holiday items in one location so they're easy to find.
- Mark fragile boxes so heavy items are not placed on top of them accidentally.
Following these few easy steps will make decorating the hall a ball next year!
Home organizing expert Lea Schneider provides tips for simplifying holiday decoration storage for a happy holiday this year and into the next. Lea writes for Home Depot, where a wide assortment of decoration and organizational options can be found online.