Christmas has come and gone, and the 2014 is here. Time to get back to the reality of what you house really looks like for the next 11 months of the year…
Here are some tips to help you tuck away all of the holiday decorations so that they are ready for next year:
Supplies I use to store Xmas decorations:
- 3 drawer cart on castor wheels
- Empty toilet paper rolls
- Ziplock sandwich bag to hold cut floral wire
- Ziplock sandwich bag to hold twist ties from the dry cleaners
- Artificial Christmas tree boxes
- Rubbermaid bins
The first thing you want to do is deal with the Christmas tree. If you have a real tree, you will need to make sure the water is mostly evaporated from the tree stand. Once our presents starting filling in under the tree, it was pretty much impossible for us to water the tree. Hopefully you stopped watering your tree several days before you are going to be taking it outside….
Step 1: Remove the Ornaments
Most of the ornaments on our tree have 2 ornaments to 1 hook. This actually serves 2 purposes – it makes the tree look fuller when the ornaments are on it AND it takes only half the effort to put them on/take them off the tree. I’m all for minimizing effort around the holidays…
We actually store our ornament on the hooks – just make sure you bend the bottom of the hook around both ornaments so they don’t pop off. I then place them back in the original containers that they came in. Of course I can never get them all to fit the way they came, so I put the overflow into a drawer in a rolling cart that stores Xmas tree supplies.
Step 2: Remove the Ribbon
The wired ribbon I use is attached to the tree using floral wire. To attach it to the tree, I use floral wire and twist it around the ribbon onto the tree in a clockwise direction. To remove the ribbon, it just takes several counter-clockwise twists. I keep the floral wire pieces from year to year as it saves all the time of having to cut a million new little wires each year. As the ribbon comes off the tree, I wind it around an empty toilet paper tube – you can’t get any more low-tech (or cheaper) than that. This helps the inside part of the ribbon from getting too tightly wound and helps to save the edges of the wire on the ribbon from getting all twisted around itself. To keep the ribbon wound up, I use the really long twist ties that come back with our dry cleaning. These are the best and once again, low tech and free (except for the dry cleaning bills throughout the year…)
Step 3: Remove the Lights
The lights are removed from the tree and just wound in a circle from our hand to our elbow – like you would roll up an extension cord or a hose… The handy-dandy dry cleaner twist ties step in once again and are used to secure the individual strands together. This helps them from getting all tangled up once the go into the box. The box? Just an old cardboard box that used to hold printer paper….
Step 4: Gather up the needles that dropped off the tree, spread the tarp and out it goes…
I purposely leave the tree skirt on the bottom of the tree until the end. It tends to catch the brittle needles that drop off the tree before most of them hit the carpet. (We have a Berber carpet in our family room so you almost have to pick the needles off the carpet one by one because they get caught in the loops of the carpet – NOT FUN!) Just fold up the tree skirt and carry it outside and shake it off.
Now that the tree is bare, it’s my husband’s turn to step in with the tarp, the drill, and the muscle. He spreads a tarp on the floor of the family room near the tree and he and my son lift it out of the base and lay it on its side. Our Xmas tree stand has a bottom brace that you drill into the bottom of the tree, He un-drills the brace and out the tree goes to the curb for the town to pick up.
Whew – that was the first part of putting away the holiday…
Now for the rest of the house:
Our game plan for the rest of the house tends to be a search & rescue mission – search for holiday decorations and return them all to the kitchen table area. From there, they can be packed up in as efficient manner as possible. I try to keep the decorations for the different rooms together but at some point that became way too unwieldy. 95% of the decorations are on the first floor of our home so those 6 rooms are close enough to each other that careful packing of everything together seems to work out the best.
Candles for all the windows are repackaged in their original boxes (from 21 years ago…) along with replacement bulbs and placed in a clear plastic bin with a folding cover. This year the Xmas tree skirt was tucked in alongside the candles so they wouldn’t shift around in the box on their journey to the basement…
The garland that hangs over the kitchen doorways stay decorated with ribbons and ornaments and gets folded into a box that held an artificial Xmas tree. Next year we just have to unfold the garland and attach it to the hooks that permanently stay on top of the doorways. Easy peasy!
The garland for the staircase gets put away in other large boxes – again – staying decorated and just gently folded for easy decorating next year. Boxes and bins are labeled appropriately:
Other decorations are carefully wrapped and stored in a large Xmas tree box and a very large Rubbermaid container (sorry I don’t know the exact size). My son’s nutcracker collection goes into the Rubbermaid bin along with other very lightweight items so as not to crush the nutcrackers. The bigger heavier items are stored in the large Xmas tree box with the heaviest items on the bottom and lighter weight items as you move to the top of the box.
- Sorry for the lack of pictures of these – this project went on way too long and I needed to get it done – stopping to grab the camera was just too much for me to bear…
All of these items are brought down to our basement and stored in the area underneath the staircase. That way they are safe and secure with little fear that my son and his friends won’t play football, or basketball, or whatever else they may do and go crashing into my Xmas stash…
Some final notes for you to consider:
Now is the time to “pass on” the holiday decorations that no longer match your decor. I passed on a 4 foot Xmas tree to my niece this year. Now I am looking for a new home for the decorations that used to adorn that tree when my son was little…
Save all the red ribbon for Valentine’s Day, but pack up the rest. I saw Valentine’s Day candy in the store on Christmas Eve – really people???
Do something with the photo cards that you receive with all those smiling baby faces… I tend to keep mine from year to year – tied up with a ribbon and labeled for the year. These are excellent keepsakes of years gone by… I’d love to hear what you do with you photo greeting cards! Anyone want to share?
Buy paper, cards, and ribbon for next year (on sale now). And as a spoiler alert – this may be a little insight into a future blog post…