Have you put away your holiday decorations yet or are they still sitting in your living room, partially packed or even still in place? If you've still got some work to do, here are some tips and tricks to help make this often not-so-fun task a breeze, both this year and for years to come.
1. Take a little time to do some winter weeding. If you didn't use it this year, get rid of it now. The only thing worse than storing something you're not going to use is finding it again when you open the boxes next year! Also be sure to toss anything that's broken. If it's worth fixing, make it a top priority so you can pack it away with the rest of the decorations before the end of the month.
2. Create an "open first" box with items you need early in the season. This might mean your tree stand, card-creating gear, cookie cutters, and decorations you like to get up early. This way you won't be hunting through different boxes to find what you need.
3. Store like items together. It may seem obvious, but in the haste of putting things away, it's easy to just "throw it all in" without much thought. Take the time to put all the parts of something in one container, or a bag within the container, store your ornament hangers with the ornaments, and all wrapping supplies together.
4. Make a list of what you need to replace. After the holiday shopping season, you may be sick of lists, but you'll thank yourself if you jot down things you ran out of or need to replace (lights, ornament hangers, wrapping paper). You can either take advantage of post-holiday clearance sales now, post your list in your "open first" box, or put it in your paper or electronic calendar for next year.
5. Choose the right containers. A mix of random boxes and bags might work, but a better solution would be a uniform set of sturdy boxes which will be easier to store and find. Plastic bins with lids work well for many decorations and will last for years. Be sure to pack fragile items with plenty of padding and dividers. Smaller sets of items can be packaged within a large plastic bin. For example, you can store each set of lights, neatly wound and secured with a twist tie, in a large Ziploc bag within a larger bin.
6. Label, label, label. This is organizing 101 and especially important with infrequently used items, like holiday decorations. You might think you'll remember where you put something, but we all know how that story ends. Be sure to label multiple sides of each box so you can easily see them no matter which way they end up stacked.
Bottom Line: I don't know too many people who love putting away holiday decorations, but if you do it right, you'll enjoy the process that much more when it comes time to break out the holiday cheer next year!