Christmas is over-- and it is time to pack and store your decorations until next year. When do you pack it all away? Do you do it the very next day (Boxing Day)? Or procrastinate for some long, indefinite period until you get quizzical expressions from your mail carrier who is delivering Valentine's Day cards?
I prefer to choose a date, because I am always a little sad to see the decorations go. We do it on January 6th, which is Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night, celebrated with the famed "Twelve Days of Christmas" carol. We have no partridges in a pear tree or ten drummers drumming, but there is plenty else to deal with.
Probably my favorite part of decorating for the holidays is setting up the Christmas tree and adorning it with ornaments our family has collected over many years. I want to protect and preserve those fragile treasures so they will last until my own kids inherit them.
Our ornaments are made of many different materials-- glass, plastic, wood, fabric, metal-- and are many different shapes, from snowflakes and stars to animals and birds. Among them are the traditional round balls.
I don't usually buy fresh fruit in plastic "clam shell" containers, but one year I realized such a container would provide a sturdy home for our sphere shaped ornaments. It worked perfectly-- with the added bonus of being clear, so I can see the ornaments at a glance. There was even a flat place where I could tape on my own label. The cost is free except for the cost of the fruit, unless you are able to glean one from a friend. For more recyled Christmas packaging ideas, read on.
Did someone at the office Christmas party bring in a giant tub of flavored popcorn? I bought these two large tins at a thrift store for about 45 cents each. I especially love that they are already decorated with Christmas images, but any large tin will do. Make sure it's clean and dry. I use these to store our house lights, gently coiled, and other large garlands. Use masking tape and a marker pen to label the contents.
Here's another set of recycled plastic jars, holding garlands. I love being able to display them while they are in storage. Makes it easy to find them on the shelf or garage next year. Label these too so you can remember what went in there when you re-pack them.
Sometimes, a specially manufactured and purchased storage option is the best. I used to store our very large Christmas wreath in the box it came in-- stuffed inside a black plastic yard waste bag. NOT attractive, and we had to tear apart the bag which we had taped shut every year.
This wreath bag is the bomb: It zips open and closed, there is an interior hook for the wreath to hang from, and in turn there is an external hook so it can be hung in the garage or a closet-- wherever you have room. The festive red color and label made this a no-brainer. You can buy your own at Amazon.
Finally-- what to do with all the other fragile, hand-made-by-your kids, or glass blown ornaments that have made their way into your life?
You can wrap them anad stash them in a beat up old box with a wish and a prayer that they make it to next year-- or--you can get one of these:
This is another specialty made product I advocate: An ornament storage box with dividers inside. I bought mine a couple of years ago and I love it. There are two tiers of trays that have cord-stye handles, so you can lift them out gently. I add little buffers of paper toweling or tissue paper to cushion the ornaments, although a purist would look for acid free paper or even bubble wrap for their fragile or heirloom pieces.
A clever person could probably build their own nesting, divided boxes for storage. This is not rocket science. There are large plastic bins available for the job, although I prefer cardboard, because I think it is softer, not prone to split with age the way plastic is, and sturdy enough for the minimal handling I give it. This size is good for us, but I there is a pricey-but highly reviewed, fabric lined three tiered box available on Amazon that looks mighty tempting. Maybe next year.