How to Store Christmas Decorations

Broken ornaments, tangled lights and bent tree branches can take the joy out of holiday decorating. When Christmas is over, take some time to properly clean and store your decorations to prevent damage from dust, mildew or pests. With a little care, your treasured pieces can stay in pristine condition so you can deck the halls for years to come.

Key Point Module

  • 1 Use plastic storage bins to help keep wreaths from losing their shape or getting crushed.
  • 2 Wrap Christmas lights into neat bundles to protect the bulbs and keep them from getting tangled.
  • 3 Pack fragile ornaments in small, sturdy boxes and cushion them with tissue paper.
  • 4 Pack linens in sealed containers to keep out moisture and bugs, and store them away from light to make sure the fabric doesn’t fade.

Ornaments

Before storing your ornaments, remove the hooks as they can scratch or damage your baubles.

  • If the ornaments are fairly durable, place them in a single layer inside a resealable plastic gallon bag. Store the bags upright in a plastic bin, or lay them flat in layers. Be sure not to put anything heavy on top of the ornaments.
  • Wrap fragile ornaments individually in tissue paper and tuck them into a small box. Provide enough cushioning to stop them from shifting if the box is shaken or dropped. Store the box inside a plastic bin with other decorations to keep it dry.
  • You can also purchase a specially designed storage case with dividers that separate individual ornaments.

Artificial Trees

Before packing your tree, clean the branches with a feather duster or the dust attachment of a vacuum. While you may still have the box the tree originally came in, cardboard isn’t durable over the long term, so consider a few plastic storage bins.

There are several options for storing your tree:

  • If your tree can be disassembled, take it apart and carefully flatten the branches. Organize the branches by section, bundling each layer into a plastic bag. Pack the bags into a few plastic bins to avoid crowding.
  • If your tree doesn’t come apart or you have room, store it in a specially designed canvas tree bag that keeps the tree upright.

Christmas Lights

Before storing strands of lights, unplug them from each other. Check that they’re still in good condition with no frayed wires, and make sure outdoor lights are clean and completely dry.

While it’s tempting to toss the strands into a container until next year, take the time to protect the bulbs and keep the strings from becoming a tangled mess. There are a few different options for storing Christmas lights.

Cardboard

What you need:

  • Sturdy pieces of cardboard cut into rectangles. Cut a one-inch slit at each end.
  • Tissue paper

Use one piece of cardboard for each string of lights. Tuck the plug into the slit and then wind the string around the cardboard. Tuck the other end of the lights into the other slit. Wrap tissue paper around the lights to protect the bulbs.

You can then fit the cardboard pieces upright into a plastic bin or gently layer them. Be careful not to push down or place anything heavy on top before sealing the bin.

Plastic Clothing Hangers

What you need:

  • Plastic clothing hangers

Use one hanger for each strand of lights. Tuck the plug into the notch on one side of the hanger and wrap the lights around the outside of the hanger, moving toward the center and to the other side. Tuck the other end of the strand into the other notch. Stack the hangers gently in a box with tissue paper separating each hanger.

Twist Ties

What you need:

  • Twist ties or reusable cord ties
  • Zippered, gallon-size plastic bags

Holding the end of a string of lights in one hand, wind the string down your forearm, under your elbow and back up to your hand. Grasp the strand of lights again and repeat. After the lights are neatly wound, secure them with a few twist ties or cord ties. Place the bundle into a plastic bag, and store it in a bin.

Other Options for Christmas Lights

You can find specially designed storage containers that come with plastic slats for winding the lights. The slats are sized to fit neatly in the bin.

Christmas lights can also be stored on reels used for winding extension cords. Don’t wrap the lights too tightly on the spool so the bulbs don’t get crushed.

Wreaths and Garlands

Before you store your wreaths and garlands, wipe away any dust with a damp cloth. Make sure items that have been outside on deck railings or doors are clean and dry.

These items can be a challenge to store because of their shape and decorative embellishments such as pinecones and glitter. Look for plastic storage bins that are large enough to fit the pieces to help them keep their shape. Place tissue paper in empty spaces to protect the decorations from bumping against the sides of the container or getting damaged.

Specially designed cardboard wreath boxes or fabric containers with reinforced frames can be a worthwhile investment to keep your artificial greenery looking fresh and festive long term.

If you have room, you can also hook the wreath onto a hanger. Wrap the wreath in a large plastic bag to keep it dust-free, and hang it in a closet or on a coat rack until next year.

Christmas Linens

Before storing, wash and press tablecloths, placemats and napkins. Linens need to be kept dry and away from light to prevent fading, ideally in a climate-controlled area. If you don’t have room in your linen closet, store them in a sealed plastic bin.

  • Fold items neatly and place in a bin with acid-free tissue paper.
  • Roll large items such as tablecloths around a cardboard tube to prevent wrinkles.
  • Stockings, tree skirts and pillows can also be stored this way.

FAQs

Can I use cardboard boxes for storage?

Cardboard is fine in a temperature-controlled area such as your house or a storage facility, but it does wear down over time. Plastic storage bins are a worthwhile investment over the long term to protect from dust, mold, bugs and flooding. They’re also sturdy enough to protect items and are easily stackable.

How do you store homemade ornaments?

The most precious decorations may be the ones made by your children, whether they’re created from construction paper, sparkles and glue or salt dough and paint. Homemade ornaments should be gently wrapped in acid-free packing paper. Tuck them into a small and sturdy box with enough space that they’re not crushed. Make sure there’s enough paper padding to stop them from shifting. Store the boxes inside a plastic bin to keep them safe and dry.

What about the inflatable snowman from my lawn?

Before storing your inflatables, clean and remove any dirt. You can hose them down while still inflated or let the air out and hang them on a clothesline to spray them. You can also deflate them and wipe them by hand with a damp cloth. Be sure the inflatables are thoroughly dry before packing them up. Inflatables can be rolled and stored in their original boxes or in a plastic storage container.