By Diane Hatcher, CPO®

"putting holiday decorations away"Have you ever wondered how those homeowner’s who put out hundreds of lights and holiday decorations put them all away so they work and aren’t tangled next year?

You too can store Hanukah or Christmas decorations with care so they are easy to find and unbroken next year.

Keep this article with your stored decorations and refer to it annually.

If you have a Christmas tree, start un-decorating it from the bottom up, removing the most fragile items first. That way if something falls or is dropped, it won’t damage anything below. If you have help, hand items to another person.

Wrap fragile ornaments and candles individually in tissue paper or cushion them with crumpled newspaper or packing peanuts (a great use for those annoying Styrofoam pieces). You can also blow air into a zip-lock type plastic bag after inserting the breakable object, so the air cushions and protects it.

Pack the above in a sturdy cardboard or plastic storage box, some of which are manufactured with inserts for separating fragile items. Discarded empty liquor boxes with divided sections serve this purpose well. Label the contents clearly on box.

Box up similar items together such as outside decorations separately from inside lights, fragile items separately from wreaths, etc.

For electric menorahs, unscrew and wrap the individual bulbs as described above for fragile ornaments. Menorahs can be protected with paper or Styrofoam. Candles stay best in the freezer until next year. Never store holiday candles in hot garages or basements. You probably won’t like how they look the following year.

Protect large hanging decorations in plastic garbage or dry cleaning bags, seal and hang from the rafters in the garage. There are also giant size zip-lock type plastic bags available.

Wrap strings of lights around empty paper towel rolls to avoid tangles. Make a small slit in the ends of the core to secure string ends into the hollow center then wrap the string gently around the core. Next year you can just unwrap the roll onto the tree.

Label each roll, identifying the type of light and its use such as “outdoor,” “tree,” or “front door trim.”

Include any extension cords used with this year’s lights to avoid searching for them next year.

Store ribbons and long rolls of wrapping paper in a storage box that slides easily under a bed or fits in a closet. Include a pair of scissors and plenty of tape for convenience next year. Immediately after the holidays you can take advantage of sales to stock up on discounted paper and wrapping supplies so you will be all set for the coming year.

Try these few simple organizational tips now so your next holiday season will go smoother and be happier.

Diane Hatcher, CPO ® is a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of Time-Savers Professional Organizing Services, Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL since 1998. She is the author of Don’t Agonize, Organize Your Office Now! You can reach her at (954) 252-7511 or on the web at and sign up for her free monthly e-zine.