By Trish Romano, Certified Self Storage Manager
The holidays are such an exciting time, especially the decorating, for many people. It’s so much fun to make our homes beautiful with the tree, the lights and all the trimmings. Some people transform their entire home into a winter wonderland inside and out. Then the holidays are over before you know it and it can be an overwhelming task to organize your decorations to put them away again. But, if you are like many people, you decorate for every holiday and have a self storage unit just to keep all of these seasonal items in one place and safe. What a great idea!
Here are some handy tips to make it easier to organize everything before you tuck it all away in your self storage unit until the next year:
Shred Wrapping Paper.
Instead of throwing away used gift wrap and tissue paper, run it through a paper shredder and use the fluffy strips as packing filler when you’re putting away your decorations. This works great for those glass ball ornaments and anything fragile that needs an extra cushion for protection.
Label Your Decorations.
If you’ve finally perfected your decorating scheme for a specific holiday and don’t want to forget how it all goes together next year, label each string of lights, segment of garland and groupings for the fireplace mantel or other areas you set decorations with a marker and masking tape as you take it down so you’ll remember which item to hang where and which items go on each piece of furniture. You can also label lights and garland in order using numbers or letters so that you not only put them in the right location, but you put them in the right order so everything lines up and fits perfectly.
Keep the Original Boxes.
We all hate when delicate ornaments and knick-knacks emerge from their boxes chipped, dusty or broken. It’s best to keep the original packaging that they come in when you buy them. These boxes are designed to fit only those items and will protect them from damage. If you don’t have the original packaging, wrap the item in a re-sealable sandwich bag, then store it in a sturdy well-padded box and use bubble wrap, packing paper or your newly shredded gift wrap to add an extra layer of protection.
Gather the Right Boxes.
Partitioned cardboard liquor and wine boxes can be used for storing standard ornaments and small decorations. They are already segmented to fit glass bottles, so use that to your advantage. Egg cartons make excellent packaging for the tiniest of items because they are designed to hold eggs. Then be sure to stuff all the nooks and crannies with tissue paper saved from opened gifts so nothing can shift around when moving the boxes. Keep the lighter fragile items together at the top of the box, and put the heavier more sturdy things at the bottom. The more you have to dig for an item, the greater the chances of damaging it if it is delicate. The boxes can then be put inside a plastic storage tote and placed in your storage unit.
You can also purchase our Dish Saver and Glass Saver Kits with Boxes to keep your fragile items. These are designed to keep fragile dishes and glasses from breaking during moving and storing, so they will be perfect for your decorations. You can find them in our retail shop located inside each rental office at all of our locations.
Use Re-Sealable Sandwich Bags.
To keep pests away from your homemade dough and macaroni ornaments and crafts, pack all those food-based decorations in re-sealable sandwich bags. Then place the sandwich bags inside a cookie tin to keep any odors in and the rodents out. You want those childhood projects and gifts to stay in good shape over the years so that you can enjoy them as your kids grow up and have their own families.
Organize and Label Your Lights.
Nothing is more annoying than finding your light strings all tangled up when you’re ready to decorate. Or, not knowing what kind of bulb replacements are needed for dead and faded bulbs. Whenever you buy a new string of lights, immediately label the plug with the type and number of bulbs in the strand and where you purchased it. If you keep the boxes, tape the receipt to them for easier identification. That way, any damaged bulbs will be easy to replace.
As for the knots and snarls, take an empty coffee can, cut a slit in the plastic lid, and put the receptacle end of the light cord through it. Wrap the string around the can and put the last light or other end through a second slit in the lid. Then store extra bulbs, fuses and extension cords inside. Keeping your colored lights inside your storage unit is a great idea because the constant darkness and lack of sunshine will keep the bulbs from fading over time.
Pack an “Open First” Box.
If you find you need some of your holiday supplies sooner than others, you can pack an “Open First” box for each holiday. Place all the things that you need first in that box, and put the most important items on top. Make sure you label it clearly and place this box on top and in front of the other specific holiday boxes inside your storage unit. That way these important items will be the easiest to reach when it’s time to find them again. And if you decide to keep next year’s decorations to a minimum, you won’t have to open up every last carton to find the essentials.
Label the Boxes and Totes.
Lastly, if it feels like you can never find anything you are not alone. To prevent that dread, label each box with the holiday it goes with and a few bullet points about its contents. For an even easier identification system, use plastic storage totes with color-coded lids – green for Christmas, orange for Halloween and so on. For the ultimate identification, keep a more detailed content list for each box on your computer then print it out to place just inside to box or tote on top of everything. Be sure to update this list as you add and remove items.
Organize Your Storage Unit.
If you decorate for several holidays, you really need to organize your storage unit to reflect when they fall. Pack the winter holidays in the back, then fall in front of that, then summer in front of that and spring in the very front. As each holiday comes and goes, rotate your boxes and totes to put that holiday in the back and move the rest forward. If you continue to do this each holiday, it will be easy to grab the next holiday’s boxes quickly.
As you can see, organization is key to keeping your holiday decorations free of damage and easy to locate when needed. If you follow these simple tips, you will remove the stressful side of decorating and make the whole process fun and exciting. If you have more tips to share from your experience, please share them in the comments. If you have any questions about organizing your storage unit, simply contact us or ask any of our friendly property managers and they will be glad to help. And, if you are ready to move those decorations out of your attic and put some order to your life, you can rent a storage unit online now and get started!