Packing Up Christmas Decorations | Practical & Inexpensive Solutions That Work!
I’m pretty sure most of us agree that taking Christmas decorations down is not the best part of the holiday season. Not only can it make a pretty big mess, but boxing everything up nicely for next year can be a big task in its own right. For years now, I’ve been on a mission to not only streamline the amount of holiday decorations we own but also organize it all just right. After experimenting with practically every Christmas decoration storage idea and product out there, I think I finally have a great grip on how best to store holiday decorations so they take up the least amount of space possible AND are easy to pull out year after year. And wouldn’t you know it…the best solutions seem to be the easiest and cheapest ones too! Let me share these practical, inexpensive, and smart Christmas decoration storage solutions with you!
Using Bins to Store Your Christmas Decorations
I want to start by stating (what I think is) the obvious: most of your Christmas decorations can and will fit nicely into large storage totes. Loading items into well-sorted bins (more on this below) and placing them on dedicated shelves will generally be the most compact, user-friendly, and eye-appealing way to store your Christmas decorations. Bins keep items safe and nicely sorted, while shelves make it easy to pull items out and put them back as needed. Below is a snapshot of our basement shelves that hold 100% of our holiday decor (as well as some other things).
Almost every item I break down today is tucked within those boxes; however, there are a few exceptions! As you work through your Christmas decorations, you’ll find that not everything fits nicely into large storage bins. Here are some things to keep in mind for these items:
- When items are too big for bins (e.g., trees, wreaths): use original boxes or plastic wrap to keep these items safe, then store in open shelf nooks and on hooks.
- When items are too small for bins (e.g., ornaments, small nativities, etc): Small collections are best loaded into smaller boxes, which are then placed into the larger bins. The smaller boxes keep tiny items safe, and the larger bins ensure these small collections don’t get lost or crushed within your storage space.
I’m going to show you everything in much more detail, but here is how our Christmas decoration storage comes together in this home!
How to Sort Your Christmas Decor
Before I dive into really specific storage solutions for all the various decor items, I next want to chat about general sorting of your holiday decor bins.
By instinct, you likely put all the bows together, all the ornaments together, all the Christmas villages together, etc. And while this type of “category” separation certainly makes labeling and finding specific things quite easy, I’ve learned over years of experimentation that these general categories may not actually be the most efficient way to pack up holiday decor.
Huh?!?! Say what?!?! But why??!?
Think about it. When items are packed up by category (e.g., all the bows in one box, all the garlands in another, etc), you have to unbox (and then re-box) everything all at one time. Beyond creating a mess of your basement/attic/garage, this also makes decorating and un-decorating quite the time-consuming task. There’s not really a “do a little every day” option, nor is there an easy way to deal with certain parts of the house as time allow. As a result, most of us get overwhelmed and just stuff everything away as quickly as possible, and commit to figuring out a better way “next year.”
So what’s an alternative solution?
A few years ago, I started packing up our Christmas decoration storage boxes by what gets displayed together and/or the location where it all gets setup.
- We put everything for the Christmas tree in one box (e.g., ornaments, hooks, garlands, tree skirt).
- We put everything for the mantel in one box (e.g., garland, nativity, village, stockings).
- We put everything for the bedrooms in one box (e.g., books, mini trees, holiday bedding/pillows).
- We put everything that goes outside in one box (e.g., lights, wreath bows).
When using location to guide your organization, you can then decorate (or put away) certain parts of the house (e.g., just outside, or just the tree, or just the mantel) as time allows, without having to pull boxes and boxes out at one time. This method keeps mess and disruption to the household at a minimum, and decorating (or un-decorating!) for the holiday season a much quicker and easier task!
NOTE! We go very “minimal” in our holiday decorations, so we are able to do one or two boxes per location. If you have a lot of holiday decor, you can still implement the “location” system by dedicating specific shelves or storage areas to each part of the house.
While there are certain things that should indeed remain together as categories (i.e., gift wrapping supplies), I suggest you give this location a method a try. It’s been the key to me reclaiming order and sanity during the entire holiday decor process!
The Best Christmas Decoration Storage Solutions
Whether you opt to pack up your holiday decor by category or location, here are my favorite ways to store holiday decorations so they are safe, compact, and easy to get pull out and put back year after year!
Large/Full Trees. If you have large or full size artificial Christmas trees, we’ve found it best to store them in their original cardboard boxes. Not only are these boxes thick, sturdy, and perfectly-sized to your specific tree, but they usually have handles (which makes them easier to lug around the house) and are typically square (making them ideal for stacking and standing on end).
If your original tree box is long gone or in rough shape, consider purchasing a durable tree storage bag, which are available in a range of sizes and price-points.
Tabletop Trees. Smaller, table-top trees rarely come in boxes nor do they need quite as much durability. We find it easiest to shrink wrap these trees tightly in plastic wrap and place them into open nooks on our storage shelves. This keeps them safe while making them more compact to fit into bins or tight spots.
Wooden & Cone Trees. Small, miniature, and/or cone trees are usually best wrapped tightly in tissue paper or bubble wrap and loaded compactly into storage totes. When possible, try to nest trees into each other to store as many together as possible.
TIP! If tissue paper doesn’t quite cover larger trees, try using plastic grocery bags. We find they work great to fully surround the trees and give them just enough protection when nestled into larger totes!
We have experimented with lots of different ways to store Christmas lights, including fancy reels and totes. But when it comes down to it, you really don’t need anything more than all your discarded Amazon delivery boxes!
Whether you use strand lights, net lights, or icicle lights, any of them can be wrapped around a sturdy piece of cardboard. This budget-friendly (ahem…free!) DIY solution not only keeps lights tangle free, but it is also customizable to your specific lights and storage bins. Here are some great tips for making this hack work really well:
- Cut down cardboard boxes into rectangles that BOTH hold your strands/nets AND fit comfortably inside the plastic bin you will place them in.
- If the cardboard is too flimsy to hold up to winding, double up the layers of cardboard and wrap them together with clear packing tape.
- Cut a slit in the side of cardboard to hold the leading edge in place as you wrap.
- Cut another slit for the end edge after you wrap the lights around completely.
- We like to stand our cardboard sheets upright so they sit like files in a larger tote.
- We don’t put all our lights together in one bin. As described in the “location” method above, we have tree lights with our tree items, and our outdoor lights with our outdoor items.
Friends, I have tried everthing…and I mean everything…to store our Christmas ornaments. I’ve bought the snazzy ornament storage containers and I’ve adhered plastic cups to cardboard sheets with a glue gun. No matter what I tried, I always felt like our ornaments were being stored in a much bigger and space-wasteful manner than was really necessary. After lots of trial-and-error, here are the three time-tested solutions we now use for all our ornaments…no fancy products necessary!
Ball Ornaments. Forget the bulky containers where you store one ornament at a time. If you have lots of colored ball ornaments, they store great in smaller plastic totes. The smaller size keeps the ornaments tight together and prevents them from jostling around. If you don’t have many, one or two should be sufficient. If you have a lot of colors and use them in different ways around the house, sorting by color works really, really well.
NOTE! We’ve stored our ornaments like this for years, and have moved the boxes at least 3 times. Our ornaments never shatter, and we have a mixture of glass and shatterproof.
Special Ornaments. Similarly, we found that the usual ornament boxes provide just too much room for smaller ornaments. We now wrap them individually in half sheets of tissue paper and load them into plastic shoe boxes. This compact solution keeps everything safe, and the shoeboxes are small enough to be loaded into our larger “Tree” bin.
Mini/Small Ornaments. We like to keep everything for the mini Christmas trees all together. This prevents the smaller ornaments and decorations from getting lost amidst bigger items, and makes it easy to grab everything to decorate the trees all at once. This 3-tiered box works so great…it’s roomy enough to hold the ornaments, hooks, and skirts for the mini trees but is still small enough to tuck inside a larger tote.
Garlands can be a bit trickier to store depending on what they are made of and how long they are. Here are the solutions that have work best for us.
Faux Greenery. To keep these tangle- and dust-free, loosely lay them into the base of large storage bins. Folding or wrapping them tightly can result in awkward creases and bent needles.
Large Bead Garlands. Load larger bead garlands into Ziplock bags to keep them tangle free and safe inside larger bins.
Small Bead Garlands. Long garlands made of smaller beads are much more likely to get knotted up. Consider wrapping these garlands around smaller cuts of cardboard (just like Christmas lights) before loading into Ziplock bags inside larger totes.
Tinsel Garlands. The best thing about these garlands is they don’t easily tangle or tear and can be stuffed into tight spots without being damaged. As such, we use them as fillers in our larger storage totes, stuffing them into open spaces to make everything sit a bit more snug.
This category includes all the decorations you place on shelves, tabletops, and other surfaces. Items such as Christmas villages, Nativity scenes, faux reindeer, sleighs, etc. While not always, these items tend to be both smaller (as in, they fit inside larger storage totes) and breakable. Accordingly, we usually get rid of their original cardboard packaging and wrap them in tissue paper or more disposable grocery bags. This allows us to load these items (tightly) into larger plastic totes.
Once upon a time, I collected aaaaalll the shiny, glittery baubles. You know…all those things for wreaths, vase fillers, and other craft projects. If these items are intermixed with ornaments and other items, they easily get crushed (and also leave glitter everywhere). More plastic shoeboxes are a great way to corral all these little items until you need them. And like everything else, this solution allows you to pack these small items away into larger totes.
Wreaths are another category where I feel like I tried the “fancy” wreath storage solutions before landing on the easy, practical one. Sure, I loved the idea of a neat stack of wreath boxes on our shelves, but they never worked exactly as I wanted them to. Either they didn’t fit our specific wreaths or they took up more floor/shelf space than I was willing to give up. To solve this, consider these solutions:
Go Fresh. Consider switching to fresh Christmas wreaths. Not only do they look lovely, but then wreaths become one less thing to store from year to year!
Use Hooks. Use strong hooks on garage or attic walls to hold wreaths. You can place them right on bare studs or flat walls (you can also add hooks right onto wire storage shelves).
Find Pockets of Space. Smaller wreaths fit perfectly on the tops of holiday storage bins. They are still safe, accessible, and protected, and this solution takes advantage of often unusable space.
Use Your Closets. Finally, place a wreath onto a coat hanger and cover it with a garment bag to use up available closet space while keeping it safe and dust-free!
As mentioned above, wrapping paper is maybe the one exception to the “location” concept of storing Christmas decorations. Placing all of your wrapping materials together is likely the best, easiest, and most efficient method since these items are typically needed all together and at the same time. As such, this is one of the few instances where I think investing in a great, specific storage system is a smart idea.
For years, we’ve kept our wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, and bows in various locations around my craft room. But this hasn’t been ideal since nothing is all together, and my craft bins don’t hold these items comfortably.
We just upgraded to a dedicated wrapping paper organizer to hold all of our wrapping supplies. Dedicating a single tote to these items makes it so much more efficient to pull out everything at once; and it also makes it easier to take stock of what you have each holiday season. My favorite aspect of the wrapping paper tote though? It keeps our stash in check. It’s really easy to buy and hoard wrapping paper, and limiting ourselves to this single tote ensures our supply remains at a manageable (and storable) level! (See how I organized I wrapping paper HERE!)
Our favorite solution for storing Christmas Cards is to place them onto inexpensive book rings and then load them into Ziplock bags (and stored inside Christmas bins). This keeps cards together, organized, and fun to flip through.
TIP! I also place our family Christmas card from each year into each boy’s Memory Box so they have their own copies across the years!
Labeling Your Christmas Decoration Storage Bins
No matter how you choose to pack up your Christmas decorations (by category or location), labels are essential to knowing where each and every item is so that you can easily pull it out next year. There are lots of different ways to label Christmas decorations, but here are my best tips and tricks.
A single label…as in one word or phrase only…is best when the items contained in a box are either all one category (e.g., Bows) or for one specific location (e.g., Outside Decor). These labels are ideal when a single word is a perfectly-clear description for what is contained inside. These labels are NOT a great solution when a bin contains a wide variety of items.
Inventory-style labels feature spots for listing out all the contents within a particular box.
While these can be overkill when a single box contains only lights, they are perfect when there is a wide variety of items in a single spot. These labels can be used for either the “location” or “category” methods when you just want more specificity on where everything is!
Get This Kit!
These Printable Holiday Storage Box Labels are bundled together with a variety of other popular labeling downloads. Click HERE to learn more about this bundle or download it immediately by clicking below!
Have an All Access Pass to The Organization Toolbox? Login HERE to get this download!
Shop My Christmas Decoration Storage Picks
Although I don’t think super fancy Christmas decoration storage products are necessary, the right items can make a difference. Here are the bins, boxes, and organizers I love using for our holiday decor.
It’s Worth The Effort
For years, pulling out all the Christmas decorations made me super anxious. I felt so overwhelmed dragging out box after box, never knowing where anything was or where I wanted to put it. And then the mess, oh the mess, oh the mess, mess, mess, mess!
Although the Christmas decoration storage solutions and strategies outlined in this post took me years to refine, I can say now that all the experimentation was well worth it. These last two years, pulling out and putting away our Christmas decorations has been easy, efficient, and dare I even say quick! Organizing our decor by location…and in the really compact and easy systems I outlined for you here…truly allow us to decorate for the holidays (and then un-decorate!) without the mess and the stress! I hope you give these time-tested ideas a try as you pack up your decor this year!