How to beat the Christmas light tangle next year

After the last gift is given, the last candle is blown out, and the needles start falling from the tree, there’s a less joyful holiday tradition ahead: the undecking of the halls. The task, however, can be made less burdensome if you remember the adage, “everything in its place and a place for everything. 

If you already have a proper holiday, shall we say, “infrastructure” in place before you start to take all the decorations down, not only does it make this chore easier, it makes re-decking the halls next year a piece of cake. 

Assess the storage options in your home. Is it time to add a special nook or closet exclusively for holiday decor? Shelves, shelves, and more shelves are the answer! Get the holiday decor up and off the floor. Shelves make the most of storage space. If you can design the shelving unit, whether it’s in your attic, your cellar, or your garage, specifically for the decor storage needs you have, all the better. 

So how do you assess your storage needs? Decide on the best, most organized ways of keeping your holiday items clean and safe for years to come. 

What are the best ways to store special and sometimes delicate items from year to year? 


There are gizmos that are good options for storing string lights, especially the kind that you put outside. They make installing and uninstalling the lights easier. These are generally reels that look like enormous fishing pole reels or flat rollers that you wind the lights around. Their sturdy structures protect the lights and help to keep them untangled.

You can also DIY lights storage by wrapping them around an empty wrapping paper core. It’s less sturdy and structured, but it’s free and it’s likely you’ll have a bunch of these left over from the gift-giving season. Slip the bundle of lights into a trash bag to stop them from getting tangled up or snagging things in storage.


As with lights, there’s a solution for storing ornaments available online or in many big box stores and there are also DIY options.

Ornament boxes are usually cardboard or plastic boxes with inserts that keep your ornaments separate from each other. These tend to take up more space than the DIY versions of ornament storage because the dividers are “one-size fits all,” but with the ornaments not touching they’re less likely to break each other, even when jostled around.

The DIY version of ornament boxes is probably the version that your grandmother or mom has been using all your life. Sturdy boxes with ornaments wrapped in tissue paper (archival tissue paper is best for the most precious decor– it’s available in bulk from Amazon) or bubble wrap. These take up less space because you can fit more in the boxes. 

Plastic bins with lids are perfect for holding wrapped ornaments. Banker’s boxes are also great– they’re made to be stacked and have a place to label the box for better organization. 

Artificial trees

Artificial Christmas trees get more popular every year. If you don’t go the cut-your-own route and instead opt for a store-bought fake tree, you are hardly in the minority. And those artificial trees are magnets for cobwebs and dust if not stored properly. 

Big box stores and hardware stores often stock specially made bags for artificial trees. They look like giant duffle bags and zip up. This keeps the dust and the critters out.

A DIY solution is to wrap the tree in a clean white sheet secured with bungee cords. 

Wreaths, menorahs, Kwanzaa kinaras and other delicate decor

Make sure you keep delicate holiday decorations safe with the proper storage– for goodness sakes, don’t stack them. Store artificial wreaths, also notorious for cobwebs and dust, in bags with plenty of room so they don’t get squished down. You can purchase anti-tarnishing bags for the metal decor you put up during the season; no need to polish every year. Painted decorations can be stored chip-free wrapped in tissue paper in their own boxes. Don’t forget about holiday dinnerware– keep that boxed with tissue paper separating each dish and plate and wrapping each cup or mug.

Once you have your storage solutions worked out, break out the old tape measure. Take down the length and width and height of each of your boxes, bags, and rolls. Give these measurements to your home organization specialist and let them design a shelving system or storage system that best fits your needs. Remember that if you’re storing these items in a basement or garage, you’re going to want that shelving unit or closet to be off the ground to protect from any water infiltration. 

Consider investing in a label maker to mark each box and bag with the contents. It will make decorating next year easier. 

Breaking down the holiday decorations doesn’t have to be an arduous task. Remember, if you have a system and you put everything away just right, next-year-you will be so grateful.