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Although I vowed not to start decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving this year (we started waaay too early last year, and I have to admit that as much as I love all things Christmas, I got a little burned out by the time the actual day rolled around), it's never too early to start thinking about organizing for the holidays, especially if your holiday storage is bursting at the seams and you're already dreading taking down your decorations.
The best time to organize is during the decoration process. Get out those boxes and start to purge as you take things out. As each ornament comes out, it goes into a category:
- Use now (put it up on that tree!)
- Trash/recycle (if it's broken or damaged)
- Donate (if you don't like it, you'll never use it, and it has no sentimental value)
- Save (ornaments that you're keeping but not using this year)
If you've determined that you have sufficient containers to store everything that you're keeping, set them aside until after the holidays. I just put everything back empty into its storage spot in my garage. If you need to add or upgrade storage, make sure you order the best containers for the job.
The best bins for tree ornaments have separate compartments for each ball or small ornament. They keep everything separate and protected, and you can pop the ornaments right into the box without having to wrap them with tissue paper. Each bin will specify how many ornaments it holds, so keep a rough count as you decorate (including ornaments that you're saving for next year) and you'll know how many to buy.
Red storage chest with dividers (I have two of these and love them!)
Snapware 3-tier plastic container
Green Treekeeper ornament storage
For anything that is too big to fit into a divided storage box, I recommend either a large tub like this or one with removable dividers like this. There are also specialized options, if you need storage for items like wreaths or lights.
While I'm on the subject of large decorations, I want to mention that I finally broke down and purchased a fake tree. It's something I never thought I would do, and I know it's not for everyone. One of my favorite childhood Christmas memories is going to pick out our tree every year at the tree farm near the town where I grew up in NJ. Most years we would pick out our tree and they would cut it down for us, but a couple of times, we even cut down our own tree - not quite as fun as it sounded, but a great Christmas memory nonetheless.
When I moved to San Diego, I tried to keep up the tradition for a few years, but it just wasn't the same - smaller trees for much higher prices, and not a great selection. So as much as I miss the smell of a freshly cut fir tree, it has made my holiday season so much easier that I have never looked back. so I finally got a fake tree. The only regret I have is that the first year I had the fake tree, I stored it in the box it came in, and it took me about an hour to wrestle it back in. You're much better off buying a storage bag like this:
Storage bags come in several sizes, so make sure to measure your tree before you buy the bag to ensure that it will fit!
Remember, the key is to not put unwanted ornaments back into storage, because they will take up valuable real estate. Set yourself up for success by having your storage options ready to go, and your tree takedown and cleanup will be a breeze.