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By: Amy Howell Hirt
Start saving those egg cartons!
Give or take a Scrooge or two, everybody loves the holidays: Decorating the tree, hanging lights, hanging holly … all those things! But you know what nobody loves? Taking all those things down.
Because, wow, what an unorganized mess.
Before you go all Scrooge, get your jolly back with these simple holiday decorating hacks.
#1 Protect Ornaments With Holiday Recyclables!
Trimming the tree should feel like the happy ending of a Lifetime holiday movie, not a game show guessing which box will contain broken memories.
Keep ornaments safe for next year by stowing them in leftover party cups, hot-glued onto a piece of foam board cut to fit inside a storage bin, recommends Lisa Woodruff, a Cincinnati-based professional organizer.
Or pack ornaments away using bubble wrap from holiday packages, or egg cartons from those countless cookies you made.
All of these options make for shock-absorbent padding that’s more durable than paper towels or tissue paper.
#2 Create a Year-Round Focal Point:
You dream of decking every hall, every year, but when the holidays roll around, you’ve got a brisket to bake and cocktails to clink.
So focus your festive energy on just one iconic focal point — a wreath on the front door or greenery on the mantel — something that easily changes with the seasons.
Or, create a display that makes you feel merry year-round. (Try repurposing storefront letters to spell out “LOVE” or “JOY” — sentiments that never go out of season.)
#3 Create a Decorating Toolbox:
Before you can hang a single strand of lights or sprig of mistletoe, you have to find the gosh-darn zip ties, track down the floral wire, and repurpose a few extension cords.
Just thinking about the prep work makes you ready for a long winter’s nap. But this year’s gonna be your prep for next year, and the years to follow.
As you put everything up, keep a running checklist of what you need. Then stock a toolbox that gets replenished every year.
#4 Leave Your Light Hooks and Nails in Place for Next Year:
If you like to trim your home’s roof and siding with holiday lights, you know what a hassle it is to find last year’s nail holes while balancing on a ladder with your extremities slowly freezing.
So, this year, use hooks that match your siding (not nails because they fall out easier) or paint them so they are indistinguishable from your siding or trim before you put them up.
Then leave them up when you take down your lights.
Come next year, just rehang your lights and bask in your twinkling success.
#5 Wrap Lights Around Gift Boxes:
There’s nothing like a multicolored knot of lights to put a damper on your bright holiday spirit.
So as you take down this year’s lights, wrap them around empty gift boxes or cardboard. Make a small notch on each side to keep the ends snugly in place.
Next year you’ll spend less time untangling your lights and more time basking in them.
#6 Hang Wreaths in the Rafters:
All year you look forward to hanging that wreath you got for a steal at an after-Christmas sale.
Rather than tossing it in a trash bag, where it can too easily get seriously mushed or even forgotten, hang it from 4-inch nails hammered into the attic rafters or garage walls, Woodruff recommends.
It will be easy to find, and will be in pristine shape for next year.
#7 Store Your Tree With the Decorations on It:
If strategizing the placement of skiing Garfield and his 107 dangly friends is your least favorite part of holiday decorating, skip it after this year.
Ask someone to help you tightly wrap this year’s decorated (artificial) tree — yep, ornaments and all — with heavy-duty stretch plastic wrap (the type that professional movers use, which you can find at home improvement stores).
Next year, just cut the wrap and reshape the branches.
Happy holidays indeed.
#8 Or Give in and Buy a Tree Bag:
Every December 26, you begin to dread awkwardly wrestling your artificial tree back into its original packaging.
This year, go ahead and spend the 50 bucks on a tree bag or box, Woodruff says. It will seal out dirt, dust, and bugs, won’t smash the branches, and some styles even allow you to store your tree fully or partially assembled.
Plus, just knowing you can skip the reassembly next time makes for an extra happy New Year.
#9 Trim Those Trimmings:
Getting out decorations should be a welcome walk down memory lane — not a guilt trip through items you “should” display but … ugh.
So when you take down this year’s decor, follow the old rule for paring down your wardrobe and get rid of anything you didn’t use — you know, that carol-singing mounted fish from your dad or Nana’s crocheted coaster set — and donate them.
“If it’s a sentimental item, take a picture of it,” Woodruff says.
You won’t waste storage space and, come next year, you’ll be greeted only by items you love and use.
#10 Organize By Room:
If you’ve got snowmen in every bathroom and a jingle bell on every drawer, you may end up with mountains of half-empty boxes piled everywhere for longer than you spend enjoying the decor.
Get your halls decked more efficiently by sorting your boxes of trimmings by room, Woodruff suggests.
Then, label each light strand by location — mantel, doorway, tree, etc. Decorating is merrier when you can grab a bin and make an evening of it, one room at a time.
#11 Create a “Must-Have” Bin:
Put all your favorite decorations in one “first-up, last-down” bin.
Next year, you’ll spend more time enjoying your cherished menorah or manger and less time rummaging to find it.