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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?

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66 thoughts

  1. noell says…
    11/30/2010

    I love the green non-plastic boxes! I'm avoiding plastic whenever possible and definitely prefer quality and long-lasting over cheap.

    I think I have 3-4 plastic tubs plus the artificial tree plus the outdoor lights. I can't keep my albums with the other xmas stuff because it will heat up beyond 115 degrees here. Your garage doesn't get too moist for the albums, Ali?

    In terms of organization -- I keep my tree decorations in two boxes, my "mantel" (ahem, tv cabinet) in another box, etc. That way, I can just grab one box and spend an hour that day with just that one box. The next day we can pull out the tree and spend a few hours on the tree. After that the long cabinet in the back of the living room, etc.

    I like working on one box at a time.

    And I did donate one or two boxes worth of very nice decorations that just never really resonated with me a couple years ago. I loved doing that.

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  2. TracyBzz says…
    11/30/2010

    I have a Holiday Closet downstairs. The top shelf is for Easter, Birthday, Halloween. The rest is for Christmas. If I want to buy something new I need to get rid of something old since the closet is 95% full! I have the small box of cds, dvds, books in the front becuase we pull them out first and put them away last.

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  3. Candace says…
    11/30/2010

    We too use colored tubs. Red / Green for Xmas and Orange / Black ones for Halloween. We donated a lot of misc items last year and it felt good! Spreading xmas cheer to others is a great feeling! I hadn't thought of putting the holiday books and such in the bins! That will make them so much more special next season! Like we got new storybooks! haha

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  4. Di says…
    11/30/2010

    As always great ideas. We too use tubs, ours are clear which helps know what is inside with out digging through it. For smaller decorations, or extra fragile ones egg cartons work great. They are a little out of control in the Qty department, and this year I will be sorting them all and sending alot to the local thrift store... time to pass along a few good things that we have outloved and let someone else love them.

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  5. Carrie/scrapchick says…
    11/30/2010

    Same here with the tubs and ornament boxes! And when the floods hit a few years ago - I was SO GRATEFUL for this storage!

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  6. jendcnguyen says…
    11/30/2010

    I've had my christmas tree up since November 1st!! I was just too eager to get started for the holidays. =)

    It's only my 4th christmas having my own home so I don't have too much decorations...yet. I just usually store my fake pre-lit tree in it's original box. For my ornaments, I make one each year for my son (and now daughter this year). My question to everyone is, how do you store your ornaments safely and into a nice little system? Last year, I just stored them in between the christmas tree skirt in a little underbed bin and wrapped each with newspaper. I don't know where to find an inexpensive ornaments container. Does anyone have suggestions? As well as for wrapping paper! How do you store it so it doesn't get bent or crinkled? I always end up buying MORE wrapping paper the following year.

    Thanks!

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  7. liz kartchner says…
    11/30/2010

    that is so awesome--I didn't know you stored your dec daily albums with the decor. I love that ideas so much! so you can pull them out every year.

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  8. Sheri Twing says…
    11/30/2010

    Oh how I love this topic! I have over 50 totes and tubs of Christmas decorations so I have to be organized. Each tub is numbered and then I have an Excel spreadsheet that lists each tub and what is inside. When it's time to decorate, I print out the spreadsheet and go to the exact tote that has what I'm looking for! It's worked for me for several years now. I have a post about it on my blog today if you want to see more!

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  9. Nancy L says…
    11/30/2010

    I use tubs also but since we have been married 30 years I have a collection of several tubs. Thus I have a binder with a list of what is in each tub (this makes it easier to repack the tubs after Christmas and if something is missing I go look for it. That cuts down the finding of Christmas items days after you thought you had packed everything away and then having to find a place to store the 'found' item). Also before I take down the decorations each year, I take a picture of where everything was so I don't have to spend time figuring out where I put things the previous year or remember that I had changed some arrangement and liked it better. These pictures are also stored in the binder. The list also has little notations such as this item will eventually be given to one daughter or son or future grandchild. I store the binder in a specific place until the next holiday season arrives. The binder is actually a ringed photo album from Target so it is easy to slip in and out new pictures each year. If I have bought new or additional decorations I add them to the list.

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  10. judy in huntsville-al says…
    11/30/2010

    We use tubs too - some big and some not as big - and each is labeled with Christmas -and the room the contents decorate ['Christmas - Boys' hall" or Christmas - kitchen", etc.] I'm blessed to have a walk-in attic but because of the storage space I can tend to collect a little too much holiday spirit so every couple of years I pull it all out into the playroom and sort / discard. [My husband says it looks like Santa has sneezed during those days - ha] Less is more, for sure -

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  11. Gretta says…
    11/30/2010

    Ali, I love to read your blog on a daily basis and learn so much. I have one question though....have you ever thought of making the text font black? For some reason, I find it so difficult to read (NO, I don't need glasses:). It just seems like black would be a little easier on the eyes. Thanks and Merry Christmas!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Heather says…
    11/30/2010

    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.

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  13. Sue TR says…
    11/30/2010

    ooooohhh...as 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 :-)

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  14. Franziska says…
    11/30/2010

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

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  15. Dawn says…
    11/30/2010

    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.

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  16. Diane says…
    11/30/2010

    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 ;)

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  17. Rhonda Z says…
    11/30/2010

    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.

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  18. Tanya Watson says…
    11/30/2010

    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 idea...now 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

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  19. Leora Henkin says…
    11/30/2010

    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!

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  20. Nancy says…
    11/30/2010

    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!!

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  21. Ali says…
    11/30/2010

    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.

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  22. Lalia H says…
    11/30/2010

    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!

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  23. Kim Ward says…
    11/30/2010

    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.
    Kim

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

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  24. Cristiane says…
    12/01/2010

    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.
    Cris

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  25. Amy says…
    12/01/2010

    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.

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