Let’s face it… packing away the decorations after the festive period isn't as fun as putting them up whilst singing carols and drinking mulled wine. It’s a sign that the festive season is over when you probably just want to sit and enjoy the last day or so of your holiday.
But spending an afternoon taking down the Christmas decorations and storing everything safely away really is worth the effort – it avoids opening a box of broken ornaments or hunting for mislaid items in the busy run up to Christmas next year.
When to take your Christmas tree down
It's traditional to take your decorations down before 6th January or Twelfth Night (the end of the the modern Christmas period) however, if your tree's been up since November, you may feel ready to take it down straight after the big day.
It really helps to have a plan of action before starting to take down the decorations and make sure you have someone on hand to help – especially if you’re standing on a chair or ladder to get things down. I recommend splitting it into stages:
Take the decorations down
Group in piles of similar objects around the room (tinsel, baubles, lights, nativity scenes etc)
Declutter any unwanted decorations
Pack in to labelled storage
We always use taking the decorations down as an excuse to use up all the Christmas leftovers (chocolates, mince pies, Baileys etc). Try popping something in the oven to cook slowly and once you’ve packed everything away and given the room a quick clean, light a candle and settle down to your meal with a favourite film on TV.
Another great tip is to pack a £20 note in with the Christmas tree decorations so that you can relax and enjoy a takeaway after putting the tree up next year.
Top tips for taking down your Christmas Tree
Pop some old sheets or towels on the floor to catch any needles that fall off (if you have a real tree) or to create a softer landing for any ornaments that drop off as you dismantle the tree.
Start removing decorations at the bottom of the tree and work your way upwards as this lessens the chance of knocking things off as your work. Take the ornaments off first, then tinsel and finally the lights.
As you take the decorations off group them in piles of similar items in spaces around the room (this enables you to see exactly what you have, check for damaged items and group similar items ready to pack them away together.
If you have a real Christmas tree you’ll need to get it out of the house whilst minimising the number of needles that drop on the way.
If you’ve use a large sheet on the floor you can wrap the tree in it (like a hammock) and carry it out.
You can also put your Christmas tree in an old duvet cover – open up the duvet cover on the floor next to the tree and lift the tree off of its stand straight in to it (bottom of the tree goes in first). Do up the duvet cover and carry the tree out keeping all the stray needles inside.
I find the sound of hoovering up pine needles quite satisfying (!) but it’s not great for your hoover so use a dustpan & brush to get the majority up.
Most local councils run a tree pick up service so don’t forget to check when your collections are - you may need to cut the tree in to smaller pieces (under 5ft) for them to collect it down. Some charities offer a similar collection service for a small donation and local tips or garden centres will also accept Christmas tree which they mulch down for compost. NB if you’re taking the tree somewhere in your car don't forget to use a duvet cover to help contain the pine needles.
Best way to store Christmas Decorations
Group similar items together - KonMari style
As mentioned above I really recommend grouping all your decorations in to piles of similar things.
Christmas tree baubles, tinsel, lights
Nativity scenes or free standing ornaments
Wreaths and Garlands.
Christmas crockery (check them for chips or cracks)
Discard Christmas decorations that no longer spark joy,
Always sort through each pile of decorations before you store them away. Now’s the time to declutter anything that’s broken, things that you no longer use or doesn’t go with your décor – there’s no point in storing things that you don’t use. Charity shops will still be selling Christmas cards so are usually happy to also take decorations at this time of year.
Store like with like so you know where to find it next year
Always store similar objects in boxes together but you could also choose to do one of the following:
Store by colour scheme
Store by the room the decorations usually go in eg: hallway, living room etc (handy if you decorate several rooms in the same way every year)
Store by when you need the items – you may have an early Christmas box (for things that are needed from 1st December (eg: advent calendars, candles, spare Christmas cards & wrapping paper). Some main Christmas boxes (for tree decorations and other ornaments) and a Christmas Eve box with things you need specifically for Christmas Eve (this avoids the kids coming across their Santa sacks as they help decorate the tree).
Plastic boxes offer the best storage for Christmas Decorations
It’s really worth investing in some good quality plastic storage boxes for your Christmas decorations rather than using cardboard boxes. Many people have sentimental decorations that they use year after year so you really want to protect them from the elements (if storing in the loft or garage) or from any water/pet or pest damage. Plastic boxes are more robust and easier to stack so they also make best use of space when looking to store your Christmas decorations items for 11 months of the year.
If you decide to use large plastic boxes I recommend wrapping the smaller items in bubble wrap or popping them in small boxes to stop them knocking about and getting damaged.
You can buy special Christmas bauble boxes with divided containers (Really Useful Bauble Box or Christmas decoration storage bag) or you can make your own using egg cartons or the inserts from fruit crates. I recommend having plenty of recycled wrapping paper, bubble wrap or tissue paper to wrap around each bauble before placing it in the storage box and make sure you have packaging in between each layer.
Stop Christmas lights from becoming tangled by winding them around either a square of cardboard or an empty wrapping paper roll – this way you can unwind them from storage as you pop them straight on to the tree next year.
Your tree topper should be wrapped in bubble wrap and popped in it’s own box inside the plastic storage container (you may have a spare Amazon box you can use after all those pre Christmas deliveries!).
Old water bottles (dry) are really useful for storing plastic or foil decorative chains that are draped around the tree – store one per bottle to stop them from becoming tangled up.
Store Christmas Wreaths and Garlands together.
Make sure that you don’t overfill the boxes – many ornaments are fragile so you don’t want them to break as you secure the lids on the storage box.
Artificial Christmas Trees
After a couple of years most people find that the gaffer tape is no longer holding together the original box the Christmas tree came in. You can buy Really Useful Christmas Tree storage or
Christmas tree bags which offer a better storage solution and will offer better protection for your Christmas tree. Just make sure you keep all bits that come with the tree so you know the right order to put together the tree in future.
Top 5 Tidying Up After Christmas Decorations tips:
Wrap your real Christmas tree in a duvet cover to remove it from the house and transport it to where it’s being recycled – it minimise the needles appearing in the car for the next 6 months!
Fix ornaments/lights that are broken - you won’t have time in the busy run up to next Christmas. Set yourself a time limit to do it (if it’s not done in a week discard the item).
Label storage boxes clearly with the contents by room / colour / type
Make sure you remove batteries from decorations and lights – this will stop any damage occurring if the batteries leak (which they may do given the temperature fluctuation in lofts or garages).
Invest in some plastic storage for your Christmas decorations rather than using cardboard boxes. They protect the decorations better and stack more easily that cardboard boxes.
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I’m Sue Spencer, a Professional Organiser and KonMari Consultant trained by Marie Kondo. I'm based in Winchester and work remotely or in-person to help busy decision-makers declutter, organise and simplify their homes or offices so they can get on with the important job of enjoying life. For a no-obligation chat about how I can help, please get in touch at email@example.com
I'm always happy to talk about all things decluttering & organising - if you'd like to have a chat you can contact me here.
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