Pack It Up, Pack It In.

Quick note: Tonight we’ll be in Fort Lauderdale at Books & Books at the Museum of Art at 6pm for a talk and a book signing. The event is free and open to the public but to get a book signed this store requires you to reserve your copy and RSVP at this number to get a line ticket: 954-262-0255. We’d love to see you there!

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.

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