How to Undeck the Halls (Because It's Almost Time)

The experts at the Home Edit, to the rescue.

January  2, 2020
Photo by Rocky Luten

Putting up holiday decorations can bring such joy that there are whole songs about it. But taking them down? All you’re likely to hear about that is a symphony of groans. When decking the halls has come to an end and good cheer is in short supply, the thought of packing decorations away efficiently is about as appealing as a fifth slice of fruitcake. That’s why it’s far more common to throw everything haphazardly into boxes and get on with a new year.

But why not make this season close on a high note? Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, co-founders of The Home Edit, think that creating an orderly storage system can be a satisfying holiday tradition as well—as long as you have a plan. And while they’re best known for streamlining everyday spaces for their eponymous blog and upcoming Netflix series, their general principles still apply to scenes of a winter wonderland. Read on to get their tips for organizing and storing holiday decorations, so that you can get as much joy out of this process as possible (it is possible).

Step One: Organize

Get out your camera.

“Before you start packing up, snap a few photos of the rooms you decorated,” Shearer says. “It’s an easy way to keep an inventory of what you have and what you need for next year.” Make sure to capture the details—such as if you created a vignette on a console—as much as the wider shots of each room.

Edit what you have, room by room.

“If something is dirty, clean it. If something is broken, fix it or toss it,” Teplin says. “Because let's be honest, you won’t miss the tired-looking Santa or the reindeer that’s completely lost its sparkle—no offense to Santa or the reindeer, we're just as tired-looking.” Also make a note of what you need to replace while holiday sales are still in effect.

Group items into categories.

“Once they’re in categories, you can place them in labeled bins. It simplifies the process when you know exactly what needs to be unpacked and where to unpack it,” Teplin continues. If you tend to decorate in the same way every year, you can also consider categorizing bins by room.

Make sure the bins are equipped for long-term storage.

“When it comes to seasonal decor items, we look for products that protect from dust and damage and are space-efficient,” Shearer says. They also recommend items that make unpacking simpler, too, like clear casing.

Step Two: Store

Store lights on a spool.

“Place the spool within a storage bin to avoid a tangled mess or broken bulbs,” Shearer says.

Keep ornaments safe in enclosed bins with dividers.

“For extra protection, wrap the items separately in bubble wrap or packing paper before storing them,” Shearer adds.

Make a gift wrap station.

“Creating a station with over-the-door storage helps to maximize space and keep rolls, ribbons, and bows protected and organized,” Teplin notes. “But if you’d rather utilize floor space, store the rolls in a transparent long storage bin and slide under a bed or any space that is easy to access when necessary.”

Wreaths need their own storage container.

“Choose a storage container specifically for wreaths,” Shearer continues. “They are plastic and durable so you can stack them on top of each other. These also work for garlands.”

Artificial trees should be stored vertically.

“If you have an artificial tree and the vertical space, it saves time to store it all in one piece—lights included,” Teplin says.

When do you take down your holiday decorations? Tell us in the comments below!

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Kelly Dawson

Written by: Kelly Dawson

Writer and Editor


FrugalCat January 15, 2020
I finally cleaned the wax out of my menorah before putting it away!
Corj January 6, 2020
Seconding the picture tip. Taking pictures of arrangements that looked good last year saved me lots of time this year. I would inevitably spend so much time fiddling (so many bottle brush little trees - I may have a problem...). Now I just follow my picture map.