Christmas decoration storage mistakes – 7 missteps to avoid, according to home organizers

We could be shortening the life of our decorations each time we store them, experts warn. Here’s what to do instead

Ceramic chite christmas tree decor pieces on a sideboard
(Image credit: Layered Lounge)

How we store our Christmas decorations makes all the difference to how long they last – and we have been making some important Christmas decoration storage mistakes without even realizing it. 

When organizing Christmas decorations for storage, there is more to it than popping them back in their original boxes, professional home organizers warn. If you want your pieces to last, you have to store them correctly, and in the right places in your home. 

These are the seven most common Christmas decoration storage mistakes you might be making, and why they're worth avoiding.

Christmas decoration storage mistakes

When taking down your Christmas decorations, it is important to follow the post-Christmas decluttering rules before you decide what to stow away for next year. Pieces you didn't get out for display or things you didn't love around your home this year should be donated, recycled, or thrown away to make your home storage a little neater.

1. Storing items on top of faux foliage

A rustic side table with a large real pine garland decorated with dried fruits

(Image credit: Ronny Colbie)

It wouldn't be the holidays without some Christmas wreaths and Christmas garlands hung around your home, so it is important to store them away safely to prevent crushing them for next year, says Ashley Murphy, co-founder and CEO of NEAT Method:

‘You don’t want to leave faux garlands or wreaths out to collect dust but you also want to be careful they don’t get bent out of shape. Carefully bag wreaths and garlands individually and place them flat on a shelf without stacking or squishing. If shelves are limited, you can stack them using hard wreath storage cases, like these from Amazon.’ 

2. Storing fragile items in tissue paper

Baubles decorated with transfers

(Image credit: Future)

Christmas decor has a knack for being on the fragile side, making it tricky to safely store in boxes for long periods of time. A common solution to this is to use bundles of tissue paper to throw everything into one container, but Amelie Saint-Jacques, a professional organizer and founder of Amelie Organizes, says this is the last thing we should be doing.

‘Storing small, fragile things in too many layers of tissue paper will work against you because you risk forgetting some of them or accidentally throwing them out because you think it's just paper,’ she warns. ‘When you see everything, you know where everything is! You can always make a small nest of tissue paper in each individual cardboard square of the bin but don't cover anything up.

‘For storing decorations, I love a hard-sided bin with dividers like this from Amazon, though a fabric-covered-cardboard box, also from Amazon, will do as well. This again helps keep decorations safe from dust and breakage, while keeping them together and easily visible and accessible.’ 

Amélie Saint-Jacques
Amélie Saint-Jacques

Amélie Saint-Jacques is a certified KonMari Consultant and professional organizer based in San Antonio with years of experience in professional tidying. 

3. Or not using padding at all

Just because you should avoid tissue paper doesn't mean you should avoid all padding to help keep your decorations safe, reminds Marissa Hagmeyer co-founder and COO of NEAT Method:

‘The most common culprit for lack of padding is ornaments. We suggest investing in an ornament storage box with divided trays that prevent shifting and rolling. Alternatively, breakables can be individually wrapped in layers of bubble wrap, fabric, or packing paper. Just be sure to fill the bin with padding to keep everything from moving around inside.’

Neat Method team headshot
Ashley Murphy & Marissa Hagmeyer

Ashley Murphy and Marissa Hagmeyer are the organization-obsessed co-founders behind NEAT Method. Started in 2010, NEAT Method is the result of the duo's inspiration to bring a fresh perspective to the industry. Originally servicing the Bay area of San Francisco, NEAT Method began to build a small, passionate group of organizers. Murphy, the CEO, led the team from localized markets to expanding across the US and Canada, while Hagmeyer, COO, advises on designs, builds spreadsheets, and implements efficiencies.

4. Bundling lights into balls

A balled up string of Christmas lights

(Image credit: Alamy)

Christmas lights are often a focal point of our decorating schemes at Christmas, but storing them and unraveling them each year is, quite frankly, one of the worst bits of decorating for the holidays, says Gemma Abraham and Hayley Harrison, professional organizers and co-founders of Organis-d:

‘When putting lights away, use a kitchen roll tube or a hanger and wind the lights around. It’s a simple but very effective trick for keeping lights knot-free and helps you to locate any faulty bulbs before the lights go onto the tree the following year.’

Hayley and Gemma
Hayley Harrison and Gemma Abraham

Hayley and Gemma work with all sorts of clients, from bust professionals to overwhelmed parents to create the perfect organized environment that will continue to serve the family long after they leave.

5. Leaving batteries inside decorations

Christmas fireplace decor with foliage, a pop up festive town display, a white stocking and fairy lights

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

Whether you are dealing with individual strands of indoor Christmas lights, or novelty holiday sets that move, batteries should always be removed before storing decorations away for the year, warns Brenda Scott, professional home organizer and founder of Tidy My Space.

‘If the batteries leak, it can ruin the item with the acids,’ she explains. ‘Remove the batteries and store them separately in a ziplock baggie or wherever the other household batteries are stored. Put in fresh batteries when the charge gets low.’

Christmas light spool and bag | $29.99 at Amazon

Christmas light spool and bag | $29.99 at Amazon
These Christmas light spools and bag will keep you wires from tangling in storage and make decorating next year a breeze

brenda scott home organizing
Brenda Scott

Brenda Scott is passionate about home organizing, decluttering, and creating a safe home. At Tidy My Space, she helps people to keep their homes tidy when life gets busy. Brenda shares useful tips and gives practical help with sorting and editing her clients' spaces, leading them to feel less stressed and bringing the luxury of time to be spent with family, friends, or on themselves.

6. Throwing baubles into bags and boxes

Christmas tree skirt ideas with oversized baubles

(Image credit: John Lewis)

Whether you have some standard Christmas baubles, or splurged on some luxury Christmas decorations, throwing them into bags and boxes haphazardly is a surefire way for them to get damaged, says Gemma Abraham and Hayley Harrison, professional organizers:

‘Step away from the carrier bags or totes, where baubles often get tangled and damaged. Specialist bauble boxes are perfect for keeping baubles safely stored. They have dividers which keep even the most delicate of baubles safe and sound. 

‘There is a wide range of bauble boxes available on Amazon too.’ 

7. Purchasing containers before checking decoration sizes

Rainbow baubles in a divided box

(Image credit: Alamy)

Also a common home organizing mistake we make throughout the year, picking up storage containers without measuring your decorations first is a great way to waste money and time, says Lauren Saltman, professional organizer and founder of Living. Simplified. 

‘Wreaths come in various sizes, as do proper storage bins. Make sure you measure before buying! The same goes for ornament storage – there are bins of various sizes that can hold as few as 48 ornaments and up to 128. Especially if your storage is limited, don't succumb to buying a container that won't fit in your dedicated storage space.’

Lauren Saltman
Lauren Saltman

Lauren Saltman is a professional organizer and owner of Living. Simplified., a professional organizing company serving the greater seacoast of New Hampshire, southern Maine, and Massachusetts areas.

FAQs

How long is too long to keep Christmas decorations up?

Although you can leave Christmas decorations up as long as you want, it is best to take them down in the first few weeks of January – especially if you are superstitious. Typically, you want to remove decor by the twelfth day of Epiphany, January fifth or sixth to ensure you have good luck for the rest of the new year.

Can I store Christmas decorations in an unheated garage?

When finding a good storage spot for Christmas decorations, try to find a space that doesn't experience extreme temperature fluctuations like an unheated garage or attic. Ideally, the space should maintain a somewhat constant temperature, and not have issues with damp or moisture, which could cause decorations to deteriorate more quickly or turn moldy.  


‘Another common storage mistake is trying to take down all of the decorations in just an hour or two by yourself,’ adds Lauren Saltman, professional organizer. Besides having all the kit you need to clear your home of Christmas to hand, it is also important that you ‘make sure the family is ready to help (although maybe not the youngest children!),’ Lauren says.

‘Set aside a few hours over the course of several days, and take your time removing the decorations, especially the most fragile ones.’ 

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.