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11 Smart Ways to Store Your Christmas Decorations, According to Professional Organizers

With these pro tips for storing Christmas ornaments and everything else, you'll never have to deal with broken balls, tangled lights, and smushed wreaths ever again.

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Christmas Ornaments in BoxAmana Images Inc/Getty Images

’Tis the season for storing your holiday decor

Christmas is magical, but it’s also a lot of hard work. After all, you created much of that magic yourself with the best Christmas decorating ideas—from shiny ornaments and twinkling lights adorning your tree to festive wreaths and outdoor Christmas decorations. Putting all of it away, however, can seem anything but magical, since it’s all too easy to end up with broken balls and tangled lights and have a full-on mess waiting for you next year. That’s why you need a better plan—one that includes the best Christmas ornament storage and smart ideas for packing away all of your other precious holiday items.

But before we get into the best storage solutions, including Christmas tree storage bags for artificial trees (which are a total game changer), organizing experts urge you to take a few smart steps. Professional organizer Ellen Delap suggests grouping like items—for example, putting all of your tableware in one bin or grouping decor by room. Personally, I also like to color-code those seasonal items in Christmas-red containers, then label each side of each container. It’s also a good idea to edit your collection before packing it up. Toss broken light strands and cracked coffee mugs, and box up anything in good condition that you’d like to donate, setting a reminder in your calendar to do that in the fall, which is the best time to give these items to charitable organizations.

With all of that in mind, let’s start packing! You’ll thank yourself next Christmas when all your holiday decorations come out of storage intact and so neatly organized, you’ll swear an elf helped.

Christmas Ornament Storage with Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via homedepot.com

How do you store Christmas ornaments?

In a word: Carefully! Some of your ornaments are likely incredibly fragile, including your favorite sentimental DIY ornaments, but even the sturdy ones require their own special place where they won’t bump against other ornaments. That’s why you need a Christmas ornament storage bag with dedicated spots for each ornament. This one from Santa’s Bags is our favorite, with its two-tray setup that has space for 48 ornaments, practical handles for easy lifting, and acid-free fabric to ensure your ornaments don’t get damaged and discolored over time. You’ll also love the see-through window at the top so you can easily identify what’s in the box.

For extra-delicate ornaments, Delap suggests reusing clean tissue paper from gift bags to add extra padding. Need a spot for smaller pieces, or want to DIY your own setup? Repurpose empty egg cartons. Each egg well is a perfect spot for a miniature ornament; just make sure to secure the carton with a rubber band before storing.

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Christmas Tree Topper Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via bedbathbeyond.com

How do you store odd-shaped ornaments, figurines, and tree toppers?

As you know all too well, not everything will fit neatly into those handy little ornament boxes. Odd-shaped ornaments and tall tree toppers end up poking out in weird ways, making it impossible to store them safely or even close the box. The other issue is that if you don’t keep them stored snugly, you run the risk of damaging them. While you could use cardboard wine cases for taller pieces, professional organizer Kathy Vines, author of Clever Girl’s Guide to Living with Lesslikes storage boxes with adjustable dividers, which allow you to customize each compartment and store uniquely shaped pieces in exactly the way they need to be stored.

This 12-slot box from Honey-Can-Do gets the job done. “It’s great for all those tall figurines placed out around the holidays,” raves one reviewer. “Since the compartments are adjustable, I can fit my mini decorative trees along with my taller and slimmer nutcrackers.” It also comes with satin pouches, which offer an additional layer of protection. (If you don’t have these, try using single socks to achieve the same protective effect.)

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Christmas Tree Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via amazon.com

What is the best way to store an artificial tree?

Good news: If you purchase one of the best Christmas tree storage bags, you’ll never have to wrestle your artificial tree back into the box again. Nope, that doesn’t have to be one of your family’s Christmas traditions! Delap prefers a wheeled version, like this one from Covermates, that fits up to a nine-foot tree to make your life much easier. And Vines’ trick will take all the confusion out of setting it up next year: Use painter’s tape and a Sharpie to number or letter the pieces. But most importantly, she says, “to make it easier to assemble next year, the top goes in first and the bottom goes in last, because then that will be the first [thing] out next year.”

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Christmas Stocking Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via target.com

How should you store tree skirts, stockings, and holiday pillows?

Christmas ornament storage and tree storage aren’t the only things you need to think about. Treat fabric items such as Christmas stockings and tree skirts with care, placing them in vacuum storage bags to prevent bugs, mildew, and dust from ruining them. You’ll also want to place your oversized pillows in these bags. While this will protect them, this storage solution will also help you, since the pillows will now take up much less space than they would have otherwise.

Organizing experts love Room Essentials’ storage-compression bags because of their extra secure seal. Once compressed, stack them in a plastic storage tub for safekeeping. Pro tip: Make sure to label the bags before sucking out the air, says Delap, or you’ll probably have a hard time figuring out what’s inside.

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Inflatable Christmas Decoration Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via containerstore.com

What is the best way to store inflatable lawn decorations?

Larger-than-life lawn decorations in the shape of angels, snowmen, and other Christmas symbols can be tricky to store off-season. Forget trying to stuff them back into their original boxes. Instead, use oversize, all-purpose storage bags with tops that unzip on three sides for easy access. This option from The Container Store is roomy and super affordable, ringing in at just $10. For an at-home option, you can also repurpose the clear zipper bag your bedding set came in.

Either way, you’ll want to follow Vines’ signature rolling system for these blow-up decorations. After unplugging and deflating the character, hang it to dry for a few days. Then, give it a good shake and lay it flat on the floor. Fold in to make a rectangle, then roll from the top down, squeezing out any remaining air as you go. You’ll get a tight roll, and next season, all you’ll have to do is unroll and inflate. Keep the stakes and tie-downs in their own small bag inside the bigger bag so they won’t get lost or puncture the fabric. And here’s the easiest (and best) labeling idea ever: Store the instruction booklet facing out, says Vines, so you know which character is which.

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Christmas Light Bulb Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via macys.com

How should you store spare bulbs and ornament hooks?

Don’t misplace the small stuff or you’ll be kicking yourself next year! Spare holiday light bulbs, adhesive wall hangers, and extra ornament hooks are easily lost in the bottom of a big storage bin. Delap recommends using a small plastic container with multiple compartments, like a tackle box, to hold these. This Wakeman Outdoors box has a secure locking latch and an easy-access top compartment. Trust us—it’s an essential part of Christmas ornament storage, and one of the simplest organizing tips you’ll wish you knew all along.

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Indoor Christmas Light Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via wayfair.com

What is the best way to store indoor Christmas lights?

Raise your hand if you can’t even count the amount of time you spend untangling light strands every year. It is seriously the worst part of decorating your tree. Well, we’re about to change that. This red-trimmed zipper bag, which has five notched dividers, is the best way to store Christmas lights. Simply wrap light strands around the dividers, then secure the plug to keep them in place.

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Outdoor Christmas Light Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via amazon.com

What is the best way to store outdoor Christmas lights?

No one wants to be that house—the one with lights up until spring. Delap says reeling in your outdoor lights is the easiest way to get them put away before May. Yep, a magical tool like this exists! A light winder is a durable metal reel that allows you to roll light strands so you can stash them in a storage container, completely tangle-free. Then next year, you can simply unroll the reel and wonder what to do with all of your newfound spare time, since you won’t have to waste it untangling strands. (Suggestion: Visit one of the best Christmas light shows for more ideas!) We love this Zober watertight bag because it fits three reels inside.

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iStock/LOVE_LIFE

How should you store a Christmas wreath?

If you’re tired of gluing broken pine cones back on squashed wreaths season after season, you’ll be happy to learn that there’s a storage option made just for these delicate decorations. Heavy-duty red canvas storage bags with handles are the best choice. Handles are key, says Delap, because they let you hang your wreath even while storing it, which will make sure it doesn’t accidentally get smushed under something else and also help it keep its shape. Use sturdy Command hooks to hang your bagged holiday wreaths on the wall in a closet or your garage. This is a good tip for all wreaths, whether you’re putting away your Halloween or 4th of July decorations.

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Christmas Wreath Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via qvc.com

How should you store holiday swags and garland?

Before removing garland and seasonal swags from door frames, fireplace mantels, and staircase banisters, Delap suggests labeling them and noting where they hang. That way, next year it will be easy to put them back in the right spots. Use giant, ten-gallon Ziploc bags to store them. To prevent snarls, wrap the garland around a square of cardboard, says Delap.

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Assorted Christmas Decorations Storage Insetrd.com, Getty Images, via walmart.com

How do you store other assorted holiday decorations?

Like Christmas ornament storage, packing trains, mini villages, oversize Santas, and sleighs is easier than you think—if you use matching 45-gallon wheeled Sterilite bins. Secure latches keep these bins closed, and we love the wheels. No more lifting—just stow and go! This set of four in Christmas red features indented lids, which allow you to maximize space by stacking multiple totes securely.

To keep these items in tip-top shape, place train cars, figurines, and village pieces in their original boxes (before placing them in this larger storage container) if you still have them. If not, use bubble wrap and packing tape to protect the pieces. And pack the items close together—empty space in storage bins means items can shift, resulting in damage. One more essential tip: Always remove batteries from items before you pack them away, since they can leak in storage.

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Sources:

Jamie Novak
Jamie is a cleaning and organizing expert with more than 20 years of experience. When she's not on deadline, you can find her searching for the mango slicer that mysteriously disappeared from her kitchen utensil drawer. The author of Keep This Toss That: the practical guide to tidying up she covers cleaning and organizing for RD.com.