I asked on Instagram Stories if anyone wanted to see how I store my Christmas decorations, and a whopping 97% of you said yes, so here we go! This will sound like A LOT, but in fact, this blog post took me longer to write than it did to take down 2 sets of garland and my largest tree.
My goal with taking down my decorations is to make it as easy and pain-free as possible to unpack the following year. A little extra time packing the decorations can save a lot of time and headache when trying to put them up. The more decorations I have (the collection grows a little bit each year), the more time I find I save by staying organized.
First, I must acknowledge that I have a good amount of storage in my house that I can dedicate to decorations. Even still, there are some work-arounds if you have less space. I do try to condense things as much as possible, with each tree typically taking up 1 tree bag + 1 plastic tote.
I think through how I might want to decorate next year, as that helps determine the easiest way for me to group items when I pack them up. It's a lot easier packing items together versus throwing everything in a pile and sorting it later.
- Do I want the same decorations in the same spots next year?
- Are there groupings of decorations that always stay together?
- If I want to mix it up next year, will it be more beneficial to store by category of item (ribbon together, florals together, garlands together, etc) versus theme of a tree?
- Order: always disassemble last on-first off, which for me is usually smallest items to largest items.
I'll share examples of my tree and garland processes below.
Christmas decoration storage tools:
This is NOT where I suggest you buy a million unique and expensive storage containers for every item in your home. Sure, they're nice, but it's not necessary. The one thing I did spend a little money on this year was tree bags, because we previously stored all of our trees in their original cardboard boxes. They were falling apart and hard to haul out every year.
My most commonly used storage items:
- The original packaging the items came in: This works especially well for fragile ornaments and ribbon. I have some very fragile glass ornaments that came in two cardboard boxes with dividers and each wrapped in tissue paper. They are at least 3 years old, but if it's not broke, don't fix it! The only exception to this is Christmas tree boxes beyond 1 year – they tend to break down quickly and never pack tightly.
- Cardboard boxes: Yep, we're super fancy here. I use cut pieces of cardboard as dividers in plastic totes, and as light spools. I'll show an example a little bit later in this post.
- Plastic storage totes: Nothing fancy needed, just plain large storage totes with lids that can be found at big box stores. If you don't have any, I'd suggest clear ones if possible so you can see through them, but if not, whatever is cheapest is totally fine – you can label the outside. The size would depend on how much you need to store.
- Plastic underbed storage totes: If you are short on space and have holiday linens, tapers, floral stems/picks, or wrapping paper – these can easily be put in an underbed tote and rolled out-of-sight.
- Wrapping paper storage bags: Totally optional but nice if you have floral stems or picks that are longer and you want to store away from dust. I don't have any of these, but it's a nicer option than garbage bags.
- Cardboard rolls: Empty toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, or even wrapping paper rolls. These are helpful if you don't have the original spools that ribbon came on, if you want to group floral stems together, or even wrap delicate garland or string lights around.
- Tissue paper: This is helpful if you have any fragile items, or ones that may get easily scratched.
- Garbage bags: I know this isn't super aesthetically pleasing, but garbage bags are really helpful for wreaths. We put wreaths on the outside of all of our front-facing windows, and storing them in garbage bags keeps them together and dust-free.
- Holiday blankets/textiles: If you have these that you also need to store (tea towels, linens, etc) you can get double duty by using them as cushioning between layers of items, or wrapping fragile items in them.
- Tree bags: I bought 4 tree bags this year and just finished putting my full, 9 foot tree in one with a lot of room to spare. They have straps internally and externally to cinch pieces down, and also have wheels on one side so you can roll it around like luggage. If your original tree boxes are busted, consider a bag. This is the one I have. Granted, I only just purchased it and only stored 1 tree so far so I can't speak to the longevity, but it was super easy to pack and move.
Example: Garland storage
The garland elements on my staircases generally stay the same every year. Segments of long needle pine, gold accent garland, lights, bows, and additional greenery.
I wanted everything to stay together except for the magnolia and cedar picks that I usually put in different areas of the house. Those will be stored separately with the rest of the florals that aren't “assigned” an area every year.
Everything came down in reverse order of how I put it up:
- Magnolia picks
- Cedar picks
- Gold garland
- Pine garland
Note about wrapping/storing Christmas lights: You can use a cord reel/spool or cardboard, but please wrap your lights. I know we have all been in that dark place where we've been faced with a Clark Griswold size Christmas light tangle and it's been a mess. In addition to having it tangle-free, it also helps reduce cord pinching that may lead to light failures. I only have a couple of cord reels, and I use those on my longest strands. For this, I used a piece of a lid from an Amazon box, and added 2 cuts to secure each end. Also, I wrap lights from end to plug, since I need to access the plug first when I hang them. This sounds very particular, but if you've ever had to unwind an entire strand of lights to find the plug, you know it's not fun.
I then packed everything except for the floral picks into a medium sized tote and made sure to label it. No, I'm not THAT detailed to have special labels, this box just so happened to have a living room label on it from our last move!
If you have bows you re-use and they have tails, I suggest rolling the tails. This helps make sure they're less wrinkled when you take them out next year:
I set aside the magnolia and cedar stems to be stored with the rest of the florals. They can be wrapped in little bouquets to protect from dust, if you'd like.
Other larger florals I'll store in other random containers – One of Steve's old computer boxes works well, and this year I also used some plastic sleeves that some inexpensive, shatterproof ornaments came in:
Example: Christmas Tree Disassembly and Storage
This is the most involved of our trees to take down this year, so I'll use it as an example. It has very fragile glass ornaments, plastic shatterproof ornaments, floral picks, extra lights, and a load of ribbon.
I generally assemble trees from largest element to smallest element, so I removed everything in reverse order so there were no tangles or hang-ups:
- Glass ornaments: I wrap each one in the same tissue paper it came in and store in the cardboard divided boxes they arrived in years ago.
- Shatterproof ornaments: There are a variety of these on the tree, and while some are more intricate than others, they're not particularly fragile. I group them together and then wrap the group in tissue paper or put in a plastic bag.
- Floral picks/stems: There are a lot on this tree, but they will probably stay on this same tree next year (unlike the ones in my garland example), so I'm going to pack those with the rest of these items.
- Ribbon: There are about 50-60 yards of ribbon on this tree, and none of it is fixed into permanent bows. I remove all the ribbon and then wrap the pieces back on to the original spools they came on. I know this sounds really tedious, but I hate wasting ribbon so I try to keep it in good shape if I can. If you don't have the original spools, use one of the cardboard tube ideas above.
- Lights: This is a pre-lit tree, but I added extra lights. It's a 44 foot strand, so I used one of my cord reels to wrap it.
- Pack the plastic tote: It's like a puzzle, but everything fits (the red berries went on top of this before I shut the lid. Put a label on the outside of the tote so you know what is is without unpacking it.
- Bag the tree: As mentioned earlier, is the only specialty Christmas storage tool I use, and this is the first year I've used them. This bag is meant to store a 9 foot tree, and I was able to easily fit this 9 foot, full width tree in there with a lot of room to spare. There are 2 internal straps to help you cinch down the pieces inside, then a zipper plus 2 cinch straps on the outside, and there are multiple handles plus wheels on one side. There's also a nice label holder on the outside, which is helpful when you have multiple trees. I can't vouch for how well this particular bag will hold up, but I'm pleased with it so far. It was easy for one person to take it down a flight of stairs and into storage.
After I took this tree down last night, I took down 2 more this morning and was really happy with how the bags worked for those as well. Each of the 2 trees (the animal print and the dining room chinoiserie tree) fit with a lot of room to spare, and each had a single plastic tote with all the decorations in it. If you don't have 9 foot trees, or have slim trees, the brand of this bag also has other items that might work better.
So there you have it: This is 3 Christmas trees plus all their decorations, as well as 2 staircase + 1 fireplace garland. And random furniture – ha.