How We Pack Up And Store All Of Our Christmas Decorations

Q: Can you post about how you store all of your Christmas decorations? Since you rotate the ornaments on your tree each year and have a large tree and a smaller tabletop one as well as exterior decor and mantel stuff I wondered how much space it all takes up. I have an attic like you, which I think is where you store yours, but I don’t really have a system so it feels chaotic. Any tips for getting mine under control? Thanks! – Meghan

A: We actually get this question a lot, so you’re not the only one wondering, Meghan! We store it all in a 6 foot by 5 foot area in our attic (our attic is much larger than that, but that’s the footprint that everything in the photo below takes up). We stack things as you see here, and we’ve labeled each bin with what’s inside thanks to photoshop, so hopefully it’s pretty self explanatory.

The concept of storing “like with like” is basically my jam. So I think that’s the theme of this picture. All of the plugs and cords and window candles go in one bin, all of the tabletop stuff goes in two matching green bins, etc. We just try to keep things that go together, together. It really helps us know where things are without feeling like we’re just shoving things in random bins and forgetting what’s what.

For a little more detail, here’s how we pack up the big tree in the dining room. We remove everything on the tree and carefully place it in one of these long, shallow plastic bins. We have another one of these in the attic with all of the out-of-rotation ornaments that we didn’t use this year (like the faux lemons and orange ornaments from this tree back in 2009) although many things get reused nearly every year (like the white/silver ornaments as well as the soft pink ones in this bin, which have been on many former trees as well as this year’s version).

Between those two shallow bins, we contain nearly all of our ornaments (all of them except for the ones on our small tabletop tree, which we’ll get to in a second). And since they’re only about 5″ deep, they’re very easy to stack without taking up much floor space. If we have a beloved breakable ornament we’ll just wrap it in newspaper before packing it away, but most of the time they just get laid in like the ones you see above.

After storing ornaments using this put-them-all-in-plastic-bins method for over five years we’ve actually never broken a single one in storage or in transport. So I’m brave enough to say that it works for us. We just very carefully put the bins away in the attic one time each year (and carefully pull it out the next year) so it’s not like it’s banging around in there and constantly being shaken/moved (in which case we’d definitely wrap them up a lot more to avoid breakage). Oh and here’s here’s how we unpack the tabletop tree:

Same basic premise. All of those special, mixed & matched ornaments go into this smaller tupperware bin. The especially delicate ones get wrapped in newspaper, but most of them just drop right in. Then we break it out each year, add new items to it if we’d like, and remove anything that we no longer love. It helps to use a bin that’s related to the size of the tree to keep us from hoarding too many ornaments that could never fit on that cute little tree of ours (we’ll either donate/pass down/yard sale older ornaments that aren’t as special as the new ones – like the ones Clara makes us – or move them to being stored in the two bigger bins for our full sized tree if we think we might use them there instead).

Here’s how we store tabletop stuff slash mantel stuff. Freestanding items like our wooden reindeer or feather trees don’t get bagged, but the ones that fit into large bins live in there, and we stash smaller items in large ziplock bags first, with a label for where they go before dropping them in. For example, these are all ornaments that we group for tabletop displays like the cake stand in our kitchen, the glass based lamp on the console, etc).

Then the bags just slip into the green bins (where all of our other tabletop/mantel stuff lives, like the wooden reindeer from our Christmas dinner centerpiece, a few smaller feather trees, our faux wrapped gifts for the mantel etc). That way they’re all grouped in a nice intuitive way.

So there you have it. How we store all of our holiday stuff.  How do you guys store your ornaments? Do you use plastic bins? Original boxes? Those little cardboard dividers? I bet there are a ton of things that work. Share and share alike.

Comments

  1. says

    That is totally something I should do…..I find myself dumping everything into a cardboard box and shoving it in the garage, attic or basement…depending on which direction I am traveling at that particular moment. Not a good habit!

    Thanks for sharing and safe travels tonight.

  2. says

    We’re slowly growing our ornament collection, and this year had a fake tree for the first time (in silver! http://www.annabelvita.com/2012/12/24/merry-christmas-from-our-home-to-yours), so we just piled everything into one clearly labelled tupperware, and for now we store that kind of seasonal thing at my mum’s house! She lives 10 minutes down the road in the family home and we have a teeny city centre flat, so she’s happy to store that sort of thing for us. What a hero!

  3. Jessica says

    I would love to start storing Christmas stuff in the attic (we keep it in a closet in the basement), but people (and the internet) said we should worry about the heat in the attic in the summer time ruining/warping/melting/splitting certain decorations/wires/etc. Do you worry about that?

    • says

      Hmm, well we live in a pretty hot-summers place (VA) and after years of this method (5+) nothing has been melted except for some taper candles that we dumbly stored up in the hot attic, but it hasn’t affected any ornaments. Hope it helps!

      xo
      s

    • Angela B. says

      We store everything in the attic except for the really special ornaments, stockings, and tree skirt. I live in Houston, TX and everything manages to survive the heat and humidity.

      My Mom has also been storing everything in the attic for 25+ years. Nothing of hers has deteriorated from heat either.

    • Plein Jane says

      We have noticed that lighting doesn’t last as long if we store it in our garage (in Texas). We’ve gotten many more seasons out of it by storing it inside. I’m not sure what happens with the heat, but it definitely has some effect on wiring.

    • says

      same here about the lights…after 8 years of “Hmmmm, why don’t these lights work? didn;t we just get them last Christmas?”…we put two and two together and realized that THEY do not last through the hot summers, the rest however have done fine. We Tape the edges of the bins to keep little critters out…who apparently love making beds in the pretty fabric.

  4. says

    Way to be organized! Does all this stuff then go in the attic?

    This year we tired to be organized as we packed up, putting like with like. By then end of the afternoon though we were just shoving ornaments and decorations wherever they would fit.

    We do label each box with a sharpie and the date so we know what’s in them (mostly).

  5. says

    Oh.Em.Gee. You’re so organized! I should really try to do better this year… usually I just put our little tree in a trash bag, wrap ornaments in tissue paper and stuff them in a decorative Christmas bag. And then all of the other decorations get stuffed willy-nilly into other random bags and boxes that I have available. BUT – since our decorations are still up, maybe I can make a Target run to pick up some more plastic bins and get myself organized.

    And maybe that should have been a New Years resolution. “Be more organized.” Now – if only I could find that list of resolutions… lol

  6. CohoesMom5 says

    I second the notion of not wrapping the ornaments in paper except for the very special ones. I have been doing this for years and haven’t broken any during storage. This year, I sorted all the ornaments and other decor and got rid of enough to empty one bin which I needed to house my new holiday village that I just started this year (Lego village – I am a Lego geek).

  7. Kay says

    As a University of Wisconsin alumni who has spent quite a bit of time “jumping around” at Badger games, I heartily approve of the title :D

    Safe travels!

    • Lauren says

      I didn’t even know tree bags existed until I saw this post! We always smush ours back into the box too. Any idea where I can get one (I’m assuming I’ll have to wait until the holiday season rolls back around)?

    • Kaitlin says

      I store my 6-foot tall skinny fake Christmas tree in a $5 U-Haul Lamp Box (12″ x 12″ x 40″)if you can’t find any tree bags. The lamp box is much wider than the box the tree originally came in and is much easier to pack the tree in.

  8. Misty says

    Firstly….Love you guys..

    But..its making me crazy seeing those containers being called tupperware. lol I don’t know why. Do you maybe mean Rubbermaid containers?? I guess I just always equate Tupperware to kitchen storage and Rubbermaid to other storage. How funny!

  9. says

    We have no fewer than SIX plastic totes full of decorations – 3 for tree ornaments (some wrapped in tissue, some in those cardboard dividers), 2 for miscellaneous, 1 for lights. And then we have 2-3 cardboard boxes full of stuff.

    Now that I write this out, I think we may have too many Christmas items…

    • says

      Don’t feel bad. I think my mom has more than you! I think there is a closet in her basement that has all Christmas stuff in it! Yikes! Personally, I have 5, I believe, plus 2 containers for lights and one for ornaments. I haven’t actually packed all my Christmas stuff away this year, but I have a feeling I’m not going to have enough plastic totes! :-)

  10. Brenda says

    I keep my ornaments in the original boxes. I use the same ones every year, although I’ve slowly added since my original haul was rather sparse. All my Christmas stuff except for the tree fits in one tub about the size of your green ones.

    • Angela S says

      I do the same thing, Brenda. I noticed this year when I helped my Mom put up her tree that she does the same thing. Guess I learned from the best! Taking down the tree is like a treasure hunt for our son. “OK. I have the box for the little drummer boy. Can you find it?” He loves doing that!