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Put it Away, Put it Away Now!

This is the song we sing after Deck The Halls!

Today I’ve put together a quick run-down of great ideas on how to pack your Christmas ornaments, lights, trees and wrap ready for next year and a basic checklist to help prepare you for next Christmas.

Step 1: Take down all the decorations from around the house before you even attack the tree. Gather all the baubles, garlands, glassware, snow-domes, music boxes, trinkets, Santa socks and hats and put like with like, and start wrapping fragile items in paper, shredded paper, foam noodles or bubble wrap ready for containers.

Step 2: Dismantle the tree! Start with the decoration on the top and remove all the free hanging baubles. Next remove any tinsel or garlands, and lastly the lights. Note: this should be the reverse order that you put the items on. Again, put into groups of like with like and baubles together in either colour or size groups, fragile and not so fragile.

Step 3: Christmas lights. Before you put them away, plug them in, check for any worn wiring and broken bulbs and make a note of any replacements needed and pop them onto your next shopping list now and replace asap while it’s cheaper to do so.  If lights are broken beyond replacement or repair, wrap them in newspaper and bin them. Once all lights are packed away, add a label to the outside and store. Don’t keep anything unsafe.

Video: How to pack away your Christmas lights and prevent them from tangling by recycling a cardboard roll. Note, I also use this cardboard roll method for controlling beaded garlands and tinsel.

Step 4: Put away the baubles and tree ornaments. Fragile decorations will require some sort of padding for protection. Re-use old wrinkled wrapping paper from Christmas day, and use cardboard from other wrap to make dividers for inside shoeboxes and the like. Wrap and discard all broken items. When all are boxed safely label the box and store.

Step 5: Taking down the tree and packing it away. This is really dependent on the type of tree you have. Real vs artificial. Size of tree etc. Please recycle cut trees responsibly. Where possible break it down into what can be used for firewood and what can be used for mulching. If you can’t use the firewood or mulch, donate this to someone who could. If it’s a potted tree, work out whether it can be kept potted or replanted or re-potted, again if you can’t keep it donate it to a school or someone else who could benefit.

Basically when all is said and done, when it comes to artificial trees only you know how to put up your tree and how to pull it apart again. Where possible try and keep the original box. If that box starts to fall apart over time you need to look at other storage options, such as strong drawstring bags that are waterproof. I remember seeing my Dad using string to hold secure all the compressed branches, then using masking tape and newspaper to delicately wrap the tree up every year. These days you could use bubble-wrap, or a product on the market that can be utilised for the purpose. Label your tree and store with your other boxes of decorations.

Step 6: Christmas wrap, bags, ribbons and trims. Remove any tape, recycle and fold neatly any you can salvage for use next year. Find something to keep them all in and label.

Step 7: Christmas Cards, make a list of who you received cards from and reconcile that with the list you sent to. Based on this make a new list for next year, or better still decide who you could email instead in future. Make a decision to recycle the ones you’ve received. If you really can’t part with them, scan the special ones and store digitally, or rip the backs off and find a way to store them for future scrap-booking, craft or school assignments, but really try hard to resist the temptation. To put this into perspective 2 thirds of my usual list was emailed this year.

Step 8: Unwanted gifts and gifts for re-gifting. If you are in favour of doing this then create a crate or box for these items but be savvy. Make sure you keep a list of these items carefully noting who gave them to you so you don’t re-gift back to the wrong person. For more on Re-gifting Etiquette check out an article by Debbie Mayne, Etiquette Expert on About Style.

Step 9: Gifts that are keepers. This is where you can apply the one in one out rule. For example for things like t-shirts, books, kitchenware, costume jewellery, bags, toys, shoes etc. For each new item you want to keep, try and discard or donate an old one to keep numbers from escalating. Another good thing to do is to re-visit your gift recipient list and note down what they bought you this year to help you plan a gift for them next year. Often people give what they’d like to receive, so if you got a groovy t-shirt or a CD, odds are they’d love one themselves. It will also help you budget. Discard any packaging appropriately: i.e. recycle where you can and keep any boxes that you feel could house a prezzie for next year or be useful in one of your own drawers as a drawer sorter or to house decorations.

Product Links

Where possible I’ve tried to locate items within Australia. If they’re not located in Australia then they do ship to Australia. If you do come across a similar product from an Australian supplier be sure to let me know in the comments section below this post. I have noticed this year however, that you can get some very reasonably priced products in the normal major retail chains, although you may have needed to purchase them ‘during’ the festive shopping period.

  1. Tangle Free Cord Wrap for Lights (23M)
  2. Mini Lights Storage Racks
  3. Storage Bags for Christmas trees, wreaths, decorations & wrap
  4. Storage Bags for Christmas trees, wreaths, decorations & wrap

Notes: If you can’t locate or afford a product mentioned, perhaps you can re-create the ‘idea’ with what you have. I don’t have a lot of Christmas stuff but at home I make do with:

  1. clip-lock resealable bags for some things that aren’t fragile e.g.
    – some garlands which have been gathered around cardboard tubes (as in the aforementioned video)
    – un-used gift tags, cards and envelopes.
    – left-over but re-usuable small off-cuts of christmas wrap, ribbons etc.
  2. cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes to house decorations
    – sometimes inside these boxes I will interlock home-made criss-cross cardboard separators.
  3. shoe-boxes with lids with holes in them for threading Christmas ribbon through.
  4. plastic crates, to house the above in.
  5. and for wrapping paper rolls to prevent moisture getting into the paper I use Multix Resealable Storage bags which I’ve found in most Aussie supermarkets, (although a large green garbage bag would do just as well) last Christmas I re-purposed and utilised an old shredder bin to stand them in. The shredder motor and feeder died but was able to be separated from the bin which is nice and tall for the job and sits neatly in a cupboard. This year I purchased a gift wrap bag for about $12 from BigW and it hangs from a rod in a cupboard.
  6. my artificial tree has lasted nearly 12 years and is still in the same cardboard box. When I originally got the box I used strong gaffer tape on all the folds and hinge flaps of the box to prevent wear and tear. It’s survived several house moves over that time and continues to work a treat!
  7. door wreaths, Santa stockings, etc. usually end up in a designated crate or one of those cheap striped bags with a zip which come in many sizes from the $2 shop.
  8. egg cartons, great recycling idea and perfect for housing small fragile decorations and baubles. They also stack. I’ve seen these up-cycled with a paint job and a label and you’d think they were professionally bought. For extra padding wrap the treasure in an ordinary tissue or piece of paper towel.
  9. lastly, storage containers for gift-wrap, trees and decorations make ‘excellent’ gifts for next Christmas, so why not buy a few and put them away for friends? I found them to be very well received. Most recipients saying they often thought of purchasing some for themselves ‘after’ Christmas but then never could find them and then forgot.

If you have a Christmas object or something else you’re not sure how to store, drop me a line. I love a challenge!

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