Undecking the Halls

Decorating, Home, Home & Family, Living Green
on December 30, 2001

Now that the holidays are over and the garland, wreaths, and ornaments are coming down, make a point to store those decorations with care and organization so theyre easy to findand unbrokennext year.

The ideal beginning point is undecorating your tree. Start from the bottom of the tree, advises Diane Hatcher, a professional organizer with Timesavers Services in Cooper City, Fla. This way, if something falls or is dropped, it wont damage anything below. Remove the most fragile ornaments first to protect them from breakage.

Wrap fragile ornaments and candles individually in tissue paper or cushion with crumpled newspaper or packing peanuts (a great use for those annoying Styrofoam bits), Hatcher says. Pack them in a sturdy, labeled cardboard box or a plastic storage box, some of which are manufactured with inserts for separating fragile glass ornaments, says June Johnson, a professional organizer who owns Your Office Manager on Tybee Island, Ga.

Keep like decorations together. For example, pack figurines, such as a Santa Claus collection in the same box as the Nativity scene, or group outside decorations together. Label each box clearly.

Take extra care when packing wreaths. Wrap tissue paper around individual fragile trimmings before wrapping the whole wreath, Johnson says. Stuff bow loops with crumpled newspaper, wrapping paper, or paper towels to maintain fluff.

Protect large hanging decorations by covering them with plastic garbage or dry cleaning bags. Seal the bags and hang them from the rafters in a garage or basement.

Wrap strings of lights around empty paper towel rolls to avoid tangles, Johnson suggests. Make two small slits in the ends of a core to secure string ends into the hollow center. Wrap the string, beginning with the bottom, gently around the core. Next year you can just unwrap the roll onto the tree, Johnson says.

Separate out light strings that have a particular purposetiny trees, door trim, wreathsand roll them individually. Use tags to clearly mark their purpose so no guesswork is involved next year.

Place extension cords for your tree and other decorations with the lights so you wont be hunting for them next year.

Store ribbons and long rolls of leftover wrapping paper in a storage box that slides easily under a bed or fits in a closet. Include a pair of scissors and plenty of tape for convenience next year.

Try a few simple, organizational steps this year so your holiday next year will go smoother and be happier.