When it comes to the holidays—like so many things in life—the build-up is so much more fun than the take-down. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah at your Stepping Stone home, chances are there’s some stowing away in your immediate future. Below are a few ideas to help streamline the process and make next year’s holiday set-up even easier. Cue the holiday music and eggnog one last time.
Holiday lights are the nemesis of many otherwise happy revelers. It seems as if they spend their off-season wriggling themselves into nasty knots. The solution? Wrap them neatly around sheets of cardboard before tucking them away. Or around a coffee can, poking the plug into the can through an ‘X’ cut into the plastic top. When it comes to those heavy-duty exterior holiday lights, keep them on a portable hose reel. The wheels and handle make them easy to maneuver around the yard while you decorate.
Ornaments can be especially fragile (and chock-full of priceless memories), so storage that prevents jostling is crucial. Try an egg carton or apple box for your smaller round ornaments. Slip the larger flat ornaments into your stockings.
Real Christmas trees are (mercifully) tossed, but artificial trees occupy space in your basement all year long. Familyhandyman.com suggests sliding them neatly into sleek, 8” diameter concrete form tubes. So smart.
Décor, like wreaths, ribbons, and candles, needs a little creative TLC. While you can purchase specialty wreath boxes at places like the Container Store, you can tackle that one for free. Slip the wreath over the neck of a coat hanger, then cover with a plastic dry cleaning bag to prevent a year’s worth of dust build-up. The same is true for larger items, such as a menorah or those awkwardly sized lawn reindeer—just save the dry cleaning bags or garment bags from your new suits and dresses.
Keep your big, fancy bows from getting crimped by plumping out the loops with cardboard tubes wrapped in paper towels. You can use more of those paper towel tubes for storing slim candles or knee-high stockings for their bigger counterparts.
Post-holiday sales can be a great opportunity to stock up on half-price gift wrap and bags. But where to keep them all—preferably uncrushed? One simple idea is to stash your gift wrap rolls in a nice-looking trash bin like this one. Or store them behind a wire closet shelf installed sideways behind a door jamb. Try hanging your gift bags from hooks on a tension rod in some out-of-the-way nook. This will keep them pristine and easy to choose from.
And if you want to take wrapping organization to a whole new, Martha Stewart-like level, watch her short video on how to create a “wrap and ship station.” It’s just as wonderfully persnickety as you imagine.
Lastly, some overall tips from Real Simple magazine. Label and color-code your boxes—think blue lids for Hanukkah and orange for Halloween. Have an “open first” label for the boxed essentials you need to kick off each holiday. Consider keeping a detailed content list for each box on your computer. And give yourself permission to toss or give away those items that never make it out of the box, year after year. After all, less stuff to put away means more time for more important things. Like eggnog. And sharing it with the people you love.