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.


  1. Laura says

    I actually use the cardboard boxes you get from the liquor store with the dividers- it works pretty well. Did you know that storing glass ornaments in the plastic containers makes the glass brittle? This comes from my mother, the ornament queen, which is why I use the cardboard. Maybe it’s an old wives’ tale, I don’t know, but she isn’t an old wife, (well…) but I am going for age and experience on this one.

    • says

      No way! Never heard that! So far after five years of doing it this way we haven’t broken one yet! Except if we drop one while decorating (coughJohncough). Haha!


    • Amy says

      I’m going to have to go with “old wives tale” on that one… doesn’t make much sense from a materials standpoint.

  2. says

    I follow a similar system, but I use a big deep bin and keep all my ornaments in boxes within the big bin. I’m too nervous about breaking things, especially since our Christmas things live in our garage and shed. I also have an entire bin dedicated to garland, haha.

  3. says

    Many, many years ago, Rubbermaid sold green storage tubs (like yours, but darker) with red lids. I labeled the contents of each on the outside with a permanent marker and have a 3 x5 card on the inside with more specifics so it’s easy to remember what goes in each at the end of the season.

    I love your ziploc idea! I can never remember what I put where from one year to the next so that idea is being implemented this year. I knew there was a reason I didn’t take down the decorations yet. ;)

  4. says

    We just had our first Christmas in our new home – so we got some new bins to pack all of our new decorations away. As each Holiday passes we’re slowly getting thing out of too small cardboard boxes and into new bins for each holiday. And since it’s the first year we got bins a bit bigger than we need so we can add to our collection.

    I love that you mentioned you get rid of/donate/yard sales things that aren’t as special anymore. I couldn’t bring myself to do that this year – there is something about throwing away a Santa Clause that feels wrong – but next year I’ll donate before Christmas!

  5. Shannon says

    I finally got on the pack like with like bandwagon this year! But, I have to admit, I have enough ornaments to decorate 2 six ft trees if we had the room for them! I pack most of them in original boxes, which is good for storage, but takes a while to take them out/put them back every year!

    I try to thin the herd every year, but I think I’m too sentimental!

    • Kelly says

      I’m really bad about getting rid of things, too. Everything has a memory behind it, it is getting ridiculous! We are up to 7 bins now!

  6. says

    Question: I just bought a feather tree for the first time this year (OBSESSED with it!). How do you store that? I was SO paranoid about laying it flat anywhere because I didn’t want the feathers to squish.

    • says

      The two big green ones just freestand in the attic like you see in the pic, and the smaller ones just go into the large green tupperware bins (I gently place them so the feathers aren’t all squished and cramped).


  7. says

    I am a bit Type A when it comes to Christmas decor and I have kept all of the original boxes my ornaments come in. It is a bit of a game when we take down the tree to find the box the ornament came out of and should go back into. It is a lot easier for the Hallmark ornaments that have a picture of the ornament on them. :)

  8. Mary says

    We also have a ranch with an attic, but I’ve been afraid to store too many things up there because of the heat and humidity (we don’t have an attic fan or the ability to add much air circulation up there). Have you noticed any negatives about storing your decor up in the attic?

    • says

      Only once when we stupidly stored taper candles up there did they sort of warp/wilt from the heat. But we have had no ornament issues after five years of this method :)


    • Meredith says

      Sherry, I’m kind of relieved I’m not the only one who has melted a candle accidentally. I bought one at Anthropologie (of course it was a NICE candle!) and left it in the car…in July…for 8 hours. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty. My car trunk is very fragrant, though!

  9. Gina says

    Because this was my first year with my very own tree, everything got taken off by type of ornament and bagged and then rubbermaid boxed that way. It was incredibly ocd but I’m ok with that. Everything else just got put in another big tote and labeled on all sides. The problem now is I’ve picked up things from Target on clearance and I need to find somewhere to store them without having to rearrange my storage closet before next Christmas.

    • Kelley says

      I hit up the Target clearance too – up to 90% off. Thankfully I was super late this year putting my Christmas stuff away (as in I’m still working on it). I would stick the new things in a box that you could access all year, labeled “new stuff”, that way if you find an ornament on vacation or something too, you could add to the box without having to rearrange!

    • Heather W. says

      That is what I do too. I label all my bins so each year I know what bin is for what room etc. I also have a bin labeled New Christmas Stuff and I keep it handy until my after Christmas sale stuff is bought and it goes right in the bin and to the attic until next year. I am always excited to get it out the following year and see what I bought. I always forget since I don’t put it out or anything. Hope this helps.

  10. says

    Good tips! I always want to keep things in their original packaging but that is usually a space hog so I’ve got to quit that. I started packing our Christmas stuff into some tubs that I got from Ikea before New Year’s. They had a great one day sale for 12 gallon (med size) tub & lid for $2 a piece. It was a 2 per person limit so after buying four and getting the kids loaded up, I went back in and picked up a couple more!

    Have fun at your stop tonight! Can’t wait to see a post on how it all goes!

  11. Jaya Saigal says

    First off, happy new year and congrats on all the success with the book and blog! I’ve been following you guys for years and you’ve been such a great inspiration:) I just wanted to share that for glass ornaments I use these storage boxes made by real simple (you can get them at bed bath & beyond for $15 – after using a $5 coupon of course!) They come in either a 112 count or 64 count size. They work great and they really protect the ornaments.

  12. says

    Between hallmark ornaments (like the ones the “do” stuff) and glass ornaments (we have 3 kids and a cat, but they do just fine up higher up on the tree) the segmented ornament boxes/totes are a must. I can’t see those totes working for even plastic though-they don’t scratch each other up in transport? I love the randomness of ornaments from events, ornament exchanges, for our hobbies and interests… I will never have a cute color coordinated tree! :) It is where I will always fail the decor game… Though because it is all random, it works I think! :)

    • says

      Nope, they don’t scratch each other or break, but I bet it’s because we just move them once each year, so they’re not gyrating against each other like they’re in a washing machine the whole year long :)


  13. says

    We do something very similar. It’s basically bins full of smaller bins. I recommend using one of the small (I think they’re 2oz?) tupperwares to stash all the ornament hooks in. I also wrap my ceramic christmas tree up inside of the tree skirt. This seems to be working well for us so far!

  14. Tracy D. says

    This is inspiring!! I have bins and whatnot but everything still feels disorganized. And I have two HUGE ornament storage bags – the kind with soft sides and cardboard dividers, etc. And this year when I went to decorate the tree two of the glass ornaments had broken in there. The whole point I bought those things was so the ornaments wouldn’t break. They take up so much space so maybe I’ll ditch them and go with your method.

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