With the holidays drawing to a close, some of us may be reluctant to bid farewell to the season. A excess of holiday spirit may not be the only thing keeping you or your neighbors from taking down your holiday decor, though. The chore itself can be daunting, which is why we offer the following tips to help ease you through this difficult time. If you start to feel a little remorse, just remind yourself that the more care you take in putting your decorations away, the easier it will be to put them all back up again next year.
Before you take down your first wreath or light, take a moment to clear away enough space to accommodate it all in an orderly fashion. Next year, that’ll save you the trouble of balancing unsteadily on a ladder while you try to pull poorly labeled boxes out of the attic. Pick some place dry and elevated—a few shelves in the garage or a storage closet are ideal. While you’re at it, ditch the cardboard; it does a poor job of keeping out moisture and pests. Storage bins provide better protection for breakables like light bulbs and ornaments, and come in a variety of colors that allow you code your storage for easy retrieval: say, red for inflatable, white for lights, and green for wreaths and garlands.
Remove faux garlands gently, being careful not to twist or tangle the strands. Starting with one end, lower the garland into a tub so that it coils neatly around the center. A cardboard box may be placed on its narrow end in the center of the container to keep the strand from falling inward. Any ornaments you might pair with the garland can be wrapped in tissue and placed in the box for safekeeping.
Unless you have a hat box large enough, it can be awkward storing artificial wreaths in a container. Instead, try fashioning a hanger from sufficiently tensile wire. That will let you hang the wreath in an out of the way corner of your attic, basement, garage or shed. Cover the wreath itself in plastic, and be sure to tape any openings shut to keep pests from making a summer home of your wreath.
By far, the biggest holiday decorating headaches can come from attempting to disentangle long strands of lights, and especially if you bedeck the exterior of your house with lights. To cut down on frustration next year, carefully wrap your lights around your forearm and use plastic ties to secure the strands. Put them in clearly labeled or coded bins so you know where each strand is supposed to go. Alternatively, you could use a simple garden hose reel to gently wind long strands, then cover the entire bundle and place it somewhere safe.
When storing outdoor inflatables, it’s important to keep them safe from moisture; otherwise, you may find them filled with mildew when you bring them out of storage next year. Use soapy water and a brush to clear away grime, then run the fans for a few hours to dry the fabric, preferably in a clean place free of overhead obstructions. Fold the deflated shell neatly and store it somewhere above ground, like a shelf or attic.