Taking Down Christmas

I adore Christmas.  And even though I finally gave up believing in Santa around age 11 (my ability to suspend disbelief has always been… impressive), the season remains the high point of my year and I try to recapture all that childhood magic by decorating my house for the holidays.  But now, it’s the first week of January, the tree looks fried, and it’s time to face the fact that Christmas is over.

The process of “taking down Christmas” is never fun and only made bearable by the fact that I have a good system in place.  An additional bonus of organizing as I put away means that when the holidays roll around next year, all I have to do is put on some Christmas music, pour an eggnog, and open up the boxes – no digging through storage for random items and trying to remember how pieces of things go together.

Here’s how I do it.

)   Large décor items go in the boxes they came in.  These things are often oddly shaped and delicate, making them difficult to store together, so I just put them back in their original containers.


1)   Small décor items go in one big box.  Anything breakable gets wrapped in something softer, but ultimately my collection still fits in a box labeled “Xmas Décor” in my 22 year old handwriting!

2)   Ornaments go in these great storage boxes I found on a deal site one year.  I am often wary of single use storage solutions, since they can create more clutter than they resolve, but for something that is stored on a high shelf for 11 months of the year I think these are perfect.  They fit most size ornaments, keep everything from rattling around and breaking, and you can’t beat the price!

There are two exceptions: first are my four large McKenzie Childs ornaments given to me by my aunt and mom’s dear friend.  They’re just too big and breakable, so I keep them in their original boxes.

The second is my set of Wallace collectible silver plated sleigh bells.  My mom has collected these since she was married in 1980, and the growing stacks of colorful little boxes remain a key memory from my childhood Christmases.  She registered me for the annual bells when I was engaged in 2009, and I’m loving watching my own collection accumulate – 6 so far!

Finally, everything gets stored on the top shelf in our laundry/storage closet.  Out of sight, and out of mind, but importantly creating relatively little visual clutter in a space I do use very frequently.

The one thing I’m not currently satisfied with is my approach to storing Christmas lights.  I coil each string individually and wrap the ends around before plugging them into each other, which does cut down on tangling while in storage.  However, all bets are off once I try to put the lights on the tree since the coils fall out pretty much immediately, and it bugs me that the light strings just sit around uncontained when they're being stored.

I’m strongly considering purchasing the matching light storage box to increase uniformity and cut down on clutter.  If you have a great way you store Christmas lights, please do let me know in the comments!

It's not just for Christmas: I use this approach with many other areas of my house.  I find that the best time to organize is when I'm putting something away, because than it's always ready for me to use.