Avoid the tangle
For stress-free decoration next year, here are a few do's and don'ts for storing holiday decorations:
n Clean all linen, glassware and other baubles before packing them away.
n Invest in plastic storage containers to protect your decorations for next year.
n Categorize items and store like things together (i.e. ornaments, lights, table décor).
n Clearly label all storage containers.
n Weed out decorations that you no longer use.
n Store decorations in cardboard boxes.
n Hang on to decorations that are broken.
n Use a generic labeling system for containers. (For example, instead of a box marked Christmas, try further categorizing by labeling it Christmas wreaths)
n Pile lights into a box. Instead, neatly roll the strings of light and secure them with twist ties. The bundles can also be labeled with where they were used, to save time next year.
Tomorrow, in homes across the country, the Christmas tree will be the focal point of many family celebrations.
By mid-afternoon, instead of admiring the tree's beauty, some families may launch the age-old debate about when to dismantle the holiday decorations.
Some people believe that the Christmas tree should be taken down before midnight on Dec. 31. Followers of this practice say that if the tree is left up beyond that time it will bring the current year's ills into the new year.
For some, Jan. 7 - the day after the Christian holiday Epiphany - is the proper time to conclude Christmas celebrations and thus remove the holiday tree.
No matter when you decide to take down your Christmas tree and other decorations, organizational experts have a few tips for properly storing your holiday embellishments.
Terri Stephens, founder of Real Order Professional Organizing in Dawsonville, suggests storing items in clear, plastic, storage bins.
"Get rid of the cardboard boxes — they attract bugs and you can't seal them very well," said Stephens, a certified professional organizer.
"I like to choose bins with different colored lids. The color can help clue you in about what's inside from a distance. For instance, an orange lid may signify fall decorations and a red or green lid could represent Christmas items."
In addition to storing items by holiday, Stephens suggests going a step further with organizing things for storage.
"I like to categorize things. For instance, rather than having six Christmas boxes, put things into categories like ornaments, table decor and linen," Stephens said.
If you've come up with a particular snazzy way of decorating your stairway bannister or some other focal point in your home, Stephens suggests snapping a picture of it and storing the photo with the necessary decorations so you can easily duplicate it next year.
"Why recreate the wheel? Taking a picture will make decorating go so much faster next year," Stephens said.
Numerous retail outlets like Target carry specially shaped storage containers for your holiday decorations. In addition to wreath-shaped plastic bins, the stores also sell containers that have individual compartments for ornaments.
"Sometimes the odd-sized ornaments won't fit neatly into the little compartments, so I would suggest getting bubble-wrap bags for those," Stephens said.
"Once you've put the ornaments into the bags, you can stack them on top of each other in a big, storage container."
Before storing things away for another year, Stephens says now is the perfect time to weed out unused decorations.
"There's no need to keep things that you don't still love or use," Stephens said.
Although she has clear-cut ideas for how to remove and store the decorations, her thoughts on Christmas tree removal are a little more fluid.
"Personally, as long as it's down by Jan. 1 or 2, I'm OK," Stephens said.
"In my opinion, it can take a great deal of effort to put the tree up, so why be in such a hurry to take it all down?"