Holiday Storage

Q FROM FRANZISKA : You often write about storing your holiday-stuff all together. That means not only decoration but also albums, books and much more. I’m a little curious how your store all these things. In boxes labeled and with a list maybe? And another question came to my mind: do you toss away and sort out things when unpacking the holiday boxes? Or how do you manage keeping the amount of holiday stuff manageable? I like the idea of keeping all the holiday stuff together. I didn’t do that with for example CDs. Maybe the holiday baker’s books can be put there, too.

AE : I'm a big fan of tubs. These holiday tubs (and everything you see in the photo above) is stored in our garage. The only thing missing from this photo is another large tub that holds our exterior lights and the three or so boxes for my fake trees (I just put them back in their original packaging boxes). Everything holiday goes into these tubs at the end of December: movies, ornaments, December Daily albums, Christmas books and other decorations - it all comes back out again the following December.

I don't have any lists to go along with these tubs - just a label on the outside that says "xmas."

In addition to putting it all away, I'm also a big fan of only having things that we really love. Over the years we've collected things that are just extra - extra decorations, etc that I'm not choosing to pull out of the tubs for one reason or another. This year one of my goals as I pull stuff out of the tubs is to have a box on hand for donations. I've attempted to do that at the end of the season before but usually by then I'm so over the stuff that I just end up putting it all away in the tubs (even the things that we might not really love and enjoy).

Last year I ordered the Ornament Storage Boxes from Amazon (one stacked on top of the other on the right side of the photo). They were pricey but they are really nice and secure and sturdy. My plan is that one will be for Anna and one for Simon. Right now neither of them have enough ornaments to fit in one box, but as they gather them over the years this will be their home. I'm currently storing generic ornaments in addition to the what the kids have in these boxes. My personal ornaments are stored in an awesome fabric box my Grandma Cathy made when I was a child.

I really don't want any more than this amount of tubs (4 tubs + the 2 ornament boxes).

This is really a transition year for us in terms of decorations. I'm taking it slowly as I pull out each thing and thinking more about where (and if) I want to have it here in our new place.

I love it when it comes inside from the garage in late November/early December and I love it when it goes back out!

Do you have a holiday storage system? Any favorite tips to share?

61 thoughts

  1. Heather

    2010-11-30 14:56:00 -0500

    I have a couple of tubs, one for ornaments and one for everything else tree-related (skirt, topper, garlands, etc). I have not done much decorating around the house but this year I seem to be more inclined to do so, so I may need to add a tub for whatever things I buy. For our prelit tree I have one of those tree storage bags. We love it! The first year we tried to get it back in the box it came in for storage but it was just NOT HAPPENING. LOL

    The tree and the tubs go up in the attic, but since I live in Houston, TX I have to store the more delicate things inside the house. (The attic gets super-hot almost year-round and the garage is both too hot and too humid.) I have a Sterilite cart with 4 big drawers in my master bedroom closet that I use to organize the "special" holiday items - like the handmade felt stockings my dad made, candles, scrapbooks, etc. I have 2 drawers for Christmas, 1 for Easter and 1 for Halloween. The drawers are also handy for if I buy something during the year, I just toss it in there until the season rolls around.

    I hadn't thought about our books and movies, maybe this year would be a good time to address that! Until now they just live on the shelves with our "regular" books and movies, the kids just know not to read/watch them unless it's December! lol

    I need to do some purging too. My husband's grandmother has been cleaning out her extensive collection of generic ornaments and decorations, and somehow most of it seems to have made its way into our house, though it's nothing that any of us really love.

  2. Sue TR

    2010-11-30 15:57:22 -0500 I write this I am fearing going into the attic part of the 3rd floor and starting to retrieve Christmas things...Electrician moved stuff around when he was re-wiring this summer (God bless 'em on July 4th no less!) and I haven't had the stomach to deal.

    I have tubs, sturdy cardboard boxes, more cardboard boxes, and plastic garbage bags (for wreaths etc...they stuff well into the low parts of the eves of the attic) I'd love a better ornament storage system...right now they're all in their original boxes in 3 huge tubs, for a number of the really odd shaped ones-which is mostly what i have- this is the best solution as they wouldn't fit well into a partitioned box. I do want better storage for special and antique ornaments.

    My best tip is to cut "slabs" of cardboard to fit standing up into a carton and wrap your lights around the cardboard, then you can slide them into the box on end. I tape a cutout of the box on the cardboard so I know how big the strand is. That has been working great although this year am going to re-do when I put away as I'm dumping most of my old, crummy worn out lights in favor of new led ones.

    Ali-I'm with you, I have to weed out too...I have enough to decorate two houses !! Maybe when I'm done with DD :-)

  3. Franziska

    2010-11-30 16:19:49 -0500

    thanks so much for answering my questions. I got so much to think about. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thank you!

  4. Dawn

    2010-11-30 16:44:17 -0500

    I do the box for each kids' ornaments too...and sadly, at age 4 and 8, my kids have plenty of ornaments for their own boxes! One thing extra I do is to keep a journal in the box (one for each kid) that explains the significance of each ornament. Most of the ornaments my kids have have very meaningful stuff attached to them, either whom they were received from or where we bought them (on vacation, etc). I think it will make a great record one day when they are decorating their first tree as a newly wed or first time parent.

  5. Diane

    2010-11-30 17:07:01 -0500

    More or less the same way I do our Christmas things but we put them in our loft space. Thanks for sharing about the bauble boxes. Those are lovely and a great idea. I love that you love it when you get everything out but also when it's time to put everything back! I think it must be true for us all ;)

  6. Rhonda Z

    2010-11-30 17:46:43 -0500

    I, too, like to store my decorations in totes. I have green and red totes for Christmas, black and orange for Halloween/Fall and pastel totes for Spring/Easter. It's easy to find what I am looking for when I enter the shed.

  7. Tanya Watson

    2010-11-30 17:46:44 -0500

    for mums grand kids (so my kids and my brother and sisters kids) mum would buy them a stocking each for there first xmas and a decoration an a decoration every following year, so my kids both have a small collection of decorations each for when they leave home in many years to come, but its nice to get them each year and such a great ive got the two kids i take photos each year and add that into daily december so i have a record of whos is whos and what year they got them....i love this time of year

  8. Leora Henkin

    2010-11-30 20:16:34 -0500

    I have two big orange tubs (kind of like yours) for Halloween. One has costume stuff and the other has decorations, ribbons, goody bags, placemats etc. OUr tubs live in the garage, too!

  9. Nancy

    2010-11-30 21:13:29 -0500

    Ali I also use tubs. I kept my kids ornaments as they grew up and they both enjoy putting them out now on their own trees. I am now saving a box for my grandson. He's 6 and loves to look at "his" ornaments, lol. I make most of my ornaments and am finding it hard to find the right box to store them in. I got some clearenced boxes last year but I'm really not liking them. So the search continues. I love Christmas!!

  10. Ali

    2010-11-30 21:25:34 -0500

    I also love tubs. As mine are stored in a storage unit 5 miles from home I have to be really clear about labelling so my husband can find and retrieve what I want easily, otherwise he will get irritated and not bother looking further! I store Advent things in one box as they come out end Nov. We do our tree around 18/20 Dec as we now use a real one and being in the Southern Hemisphere we don't have a long time before the needles fall off in the heat! I have another box for wreaths, and then last year I sorted my decorations by colour and so I only retrieve the colours I need each year. Last year it was red and gold and this year my colours are silver, white and hot pink. This colour sorting has meant some half full boxes, but I figure that over time they will gradually get filled as I buy ornaments that I like in the sales in January. I also have a tub for misc Christmas things such as specific cookbooks, cds, the nativity set etc - the stuff I get out every year.

  11. Lalia H

    2010-11-30 22:35:30 -0500

    3 years ago I decorated and then purged nearly everything that didn't get set out. It was LIBERATING. I also gave the entire box to some friends who didn't have a lot to spend on decorations and it was wonderful to BLESS them too!

  12. Kim Ward

    2010-11-30 23:39:41 -0500

    Hi Ali,

    I have recenlty purchased some templates from "Designer Digital" and I am having some problems being able to open them to my Adobe photoshop. Is there something you can recommend? I am anxious to use them...especially the 25 days of Christmas.

    Thank you for your time.

    p.s. when is the deadline for your online workshop registration?

  13. Cristiane

    2010-12-01 00:54:45 -0500

    Hi Ali,
    I do get boxes that looks alike, like yours, and label only the outside with "Christmas decor" Christmas lights" Christmas Ornaments. I'm a label person. I don't have a list of what I have inside of these boxes as I have for my books and other storage boxes.
    I got a wreath case this year and two wrapping paper boxes. One for paper, of course, and the other one for my scarecrow (from Michaels')that I used during October/November. It fits perfectly.
    I like the idea of starting a ornament box for both of my girls. That's interesting. I'll try to do it this year.
    I don't want to have more than four medium size plastic containers for Christmas stuff, so I may be donating stuff this year. Hopefully!
    My Christmas Tree and train that goes at the bottom of it stay in the storage we rent (this house we are right now is too small).
    Thank you for sharing.
    Take care and happy holidays.

  14. Amy

    2010-12-01 06:30:36 -0500

    This is an extra tip for all those with ornaments you buy and keep for your kids. Consider taking a fine tip Sharpie and discreetly writing your child's first name and the year they received the ornament on it. My mother did this for me and my brothers from the day we were born - buying at least one special ornament per year. It is so fun for me (and for my children) when we decorate the tree and I can say my mom got me this ornament the year I was 2 or 12 or 28.

    I've been doing that for my children since each of their births. I try to find them at least one ornament per year that relates to some significant thing in their life that year. It adds layers to the memories as the ornaments are hung and displayed on the tree.

  15. Michele Mc

    2010-12-01 10:24:30 -0500

    I use a similar system with plastic bins. I put up three trees so I try to keep the ornaments for each in their own labeled bins. I do keep the original boxes for some of the more delicate and special ornaments. The tree we put in our basement is Disney themed so it contains all of the ornaments that we have collected on our trips to Disney World. Some of those ornaments come in their own perfect "storybook" storage so those go into a larger box to keep them protected.

    I just bought a replacement for one of my artificial trees so I will be putting the old one out for the veterans collection tomorrow. If time permits, I would love to add some decorations to that because I know there are some that I consistently set aside each year and don't know what to do with them.

    I enjoyed reading the entry and all of the comments. Fun topic!

  16. Leslie

    2010-12-01 11:04:39 -0500

    One thing I started the year my oldest child was born..and we started buying (and receiving) ornaments for him was to get a small spiral notebook. In it, for each year, I write the ornament, what its significance was (assuming it had! LOL!) and where it came from... The kids (now 10 and 12) love looking back at the notebook to remember who gave the ornaments or where we bought them (i.e. on a family vacation) or what the significance was (sports hobby that year, etc)... The spiral book stays in the child's ornament box..

  17. Catnap

    2010-12-01 11:05:15 -0500

    I keep all my Xmas stuff together, and label every box with the contents. Each box is either a similar type of decoration (eg, lights, ornaments, tabletop decorations) or it's a theme (eg, Swedish decorations). I switch themes from year to year, so this makes it easy only to pull out boxes I really need, and not unpack everything. I also keep things in plastic bags to protect them from mildew, and I label all the bags, or little boxes, I store them in so I know where to put it back when I'm putting it all away.

  18. Andrea Q

    2010-12-01 11:35:21 -0500

    I can't wait to see how everything that is stored in those containers look in your new place!

  19. Katherine M

    2010-12-01 13:31:08 -0500

    I've got an entire Liberty Falls Christmas village set that I used to put out every year (and added to every year) until I got married. I don't think it has seen the light of day since (11 years) and there are so many pieces/parts it didn't make the donation box last year. I just couldn't do it. So it sat on the floor in the garage for this ENTIRE year between the fridge and the trashcans. I guess that means it should be the first thing I
    put in the car to donate... I think the kids would love it but it is such a hassle with all of the individual boxes and trees and mini figures and accessories that I don't even look forward to opening the box much less setting it up.

    Okay- I just put the entire uber-heavy box in the back of my car and it will be dropped off today. Just typing this comment helped to make up my mind. Thanks!

    Oh-do you wrap all of your ornaments (especially the ones in the kid's boxes) with tissue paper or just set them in the divided sections? Just wondering. Those padded boxes look really nice.

  20. M. MADISON

    2010-12-01 13:56:30 -0500

    I use this exact same system and love it. The only thing that I can add is that I have a separate small tote for all of the non-breakable decorations. Each year when the tubs come out my kids are so excited to start rummaging through their've found that having all of them in their own container allows me to open that one right up without the fear of anything being broken. By the time they have emptied that I have everything else organized.

  21. Erin K.

    2010-12-01 22:34:31 -0500

    Last year I took the time when putting out all the Christmas stuff to donate, trash and recycle lots of stuff. I now have 2 boys so as I put things away they each got their own box for ornaments. As I packed things up I donated or tossed anything else I didn't love. I made of a list of things that I really wished I had (kept an eye out all year at the resale shops and garage sales). I started a new box for misc items I had somehow forgotten to pack and anything new I added. As I unpack this year I will re evaluate again!

  22. MaryM

    2010-12-02 18:02:42 -0500

    Let me start by saying that's I have been blessed, because I currently have about 20 large bins of Christmas Decorations and that does not include the boxes that house our trees (1 12', 2 7'and 4 4'). I love a fully decorated home and after 21 years of marriage I have assemble so many decorations that I can open my own store :) Happy Holidays Everyone!

  23. Lani

    2010-12-03 15:43:48 -0500

    I have one small tub that holds the things I need right away: Advent calendars, story books, holiday card address book, cookie recipies. That's stored right at the front of our Christmas area, so I can grab it right after Thanksgiving and get the holiday started. Then at some point in the month the other two tubs of Christmas items (and the tree) come out as we have time. Works for us, but took me several years to come up with a system that does.

  24. Renee Richins

    2010-12-05 18:24:55 -0500

    I'm pulling out all my decorations today and boy do I have way too much. I have most of it in bins and I bought a couple of those plastic ornament boxes last year. This past year I inherited a ton of decorations that my Great Grandparents had. I'm so overwhelmed because it's a lot, and I'm having a hard time parting with any of my grandparents decorations. There are a lot of vintage looking ornaments, but they just aren't "me". I found that my tastes have changed in the last 8 years I've been married, so I have a huge box set out to put any of my own decorations in that I don't want anymore. I'm ready to enjoy the things I love instead of shuffling around things that I don't.

  25. Jill in Frisco

    2010-12-15 12:00:43 -0500

    I have used this same "system" for almost 30 years - yep, it works as well today as it did 30 years ago.
    5 years ago, I was able to give my daughter her "box".... last weekend, I gave my son his "box". Life goes on, a little lighter the tree is a little bare, but I feel good knowing that I did a great job being the keeper of their memories...

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