August 6, 2022

A Local Home Organizer Tells Us the Best Ways to Pack Our Holiday Decor

It’s a controversial question: when should you take down your Christmas decorations? Well, it really depends, says Lorraine Brock, founder of Get Organized!, a local home organizing service. Some people want it immediately, others will wait a few days in the New Year.

Some dread the process so much that “you can get in February at Christmas is still in place in many homes,” Brock says.

No matter when you take it all off, though, you know it’s going to be a pain. Lights become a tangled mess, garlands scratch your arms, and stray ornaments roll everywhere.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Brock gave us 13 tips to make the process of packing your holiday decor as easy as possible.

1. Plan when you take everything apart.

Let’s face it: we all know that a house that turns off its lights to way too long after New Years. “Often the Christmas decoration stays up for a long time for a number of people because they can’t find the time to take it down,” says Brock, so she recommends scheduling a time in your calendar to wrap it all up.

2. Dust everything before storing.

Because your decorations are on display for a month to six weeks during the holiday season, they are bound to gather dust. Brock recommends giving everything a quick wipe down with Windex or an all-purpose cleaner before putting everything away. “Most people don’t clean their decor very much,” she says. “But the thing is, it gets really dusty over time, and it doesn’t sparkle or shine as much.”

3. You will want quality storage bins and containers.

Avoid large, see-through bins, says Brock, because the plastic can become brittle in the Texas heat. She prefers thick, solid-colored bins, like those from Rubbermaid, which you can buy at stores like Walmart and Lowe’s, because they’re sturdier. You also want to get lids that lock. Over time, snap-on lids can become flimsy, she says, “and the lids can just come off like cheap cellophane on leftover dish in the fridge.”

4. Label all your boxes, bins and bins.

Brock is a big fan of labeling all your bins. For starters, she recommends sorting decor by room, not decor type. Then make a list of what’s in each bin – or take a video – and put it somewhere safe. After that, assign a number to each tote so you don’t waste time next year digging for your living room decorations – you already know it’s at #11.

5. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Turns out the Grinch had the foresight to gather some old empty bags before his raid on Whoville. Brock suggests reusing items around the house. Brock uses the thick plastic zipper bags — the ones that hold new quilts or sheets — to store items like pillows, blankets and vacation stockings. “We often find that when we’re in people’s homes,” she says, “it’s amazing what we can find to save them a bit of money without having to be like Container Store type products. “

6. But if you go to the Container Store, buy shoe boxes.

Brock loves the Container Store’s clear men’s and women’s shoe boxes (“They’re absolutely amazing”). She uses them to organize the items in the bins. Shoeboxes are sturdy and can stack well, she says. Brock also recommends the Small Accessory Boxes for hiding smaller items, like ornament hooks, tape for gift wrapping, or even scissors.

7. Use Ziploc bags whenever you can.

You should check all your Christmas lights for broken bulbs, but when you’re ready to put them up, Brock says to roll them up, tie them up with a zipper so they don’t get tangled, then stick them in a Ziploc bag. Really, she’s a big fan of throwing everything you can into clear bags, like plastic and unbreakable ornaments. Go to the Dollar Store, she says, and you can get a two-pack of premium plastic bags that can hold a basketball for just $1.25.

8. Buy transparent garbage bags.

“Sometimes you have a weird, obscure piece of scenery, and it doesn’t really fit in any kind of container that you normally would,” Brock explains. “It’s either too big, too bulky, or just too out of shape.” She recommends buying clear trash bags — buy them at stores like Walmart and Target or on Amazon — so you can protect your decor from the elements while still seeing what it’s all about.

9. Hang your wreaths.

Also use these transparent plastic bags to protect the crowns. Cut a hole in the top of the bag and stick a clothes hanger through the loop to hang your wreath. For added support, bend the sides of the hanger and wedge it into the crown. If the crown is too big, Brock says to cut two bags off the side lengthwise and tape them together. After that, nail hooks to the studs and rafters of your attic and hang the wreaths to see what you have. (Brock also recommends hanging bows with tissue paper inside so they don’t wrinkle.)

10. Store your Christmas tree the way you want.

Brock says she’s seen people put away their Christmas trees in all sorts of ways, like sticking it in the garage and covering it with plastic wrap for protection. It works “pretty brilliantly”, says Brock, “but it takes up a lot of space in your garage”. Instead, she recommends storing it in the attic. Use a soft bag instead of a bulky container to make moving the tree up and down the attic steps easier.

11. Beware of hot attics.

It’s Dallas, so you know in June your attic is going to be scorching hot. So, says Brock, you should be careful what you store up there. Items like candles and framed photos should be stored in a temperature-controlled area, like an entry closet. Flocked Christmas trees also can’t get up there, Brock says, “because the white part will turn yellow after a few Christmases.”

12. Make a list of what you will need next year.

Brock advises making a list of everything that’s broken, so you know what to replace next year, as well as anything you might need, like more red bows or snowflakes. That way you can browse the sales after Christmas and then you’re ready for next year.

13. Shop after the Christmas sales.

“When you’re shopping after Christmas, and often the clearances last after Christmas for the whole month of January, you’ll see all kinds of things,” says Brock. These sales are a great time to pick up some discount decorations, like greenery, ribbon (Brock loves Costco’s ribbon), and holiday pillows, which can normally get quite expensive.


Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is an associate online editor for Magazine D‘s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…