The Best Ways to Store Your Christmas Ornaments

From an over-careful ornament packer.

November 19, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Christmas ornament storage isn't something you think about more than twice a year: once when you take them out to decorate the tree, and again when you put them away until the next year. But ornaments that often come with a healthy dose of sentimentality deserve a bit more thought.

It's often said that moms know best, and it couldn't be more accurate in this case. Since decorating the Christmas tree is my mother's favorite holiday activity, I've learned some ornament storage tips and tricks from watching the master at work, plus a couple tricks of my own as I've had to store and move seasonal decor from one small apartment to another. Here are my tried-and-true methods.

Save Original Boxes

I am not, by any means, a box-saver. I am quick to toss the packaging of almost anything, and I find it baffling that my father, for example, has held onto every iPhone box he's ever had. To each his own, though!

This is merely to say that ornaments are the one instance where I highly suggest saving the original packaging, especially if the package is shaped to perfectly hold the ornament. It's the best way to prevent damage and jostling while moving ornaments in and out of an attic, basement, or cramped closet. Something sweet that I love to do with the original packaging, too, is to write the year it was received or purchased, and who gifted it. My mom started this for me with my personal ornament collection, and it's quite sentimental to remember when my grandmother and grandfather gave me a particularly special piece in 2002.

Invest in Dedicated Boxes

Moisture-Resistant Ornament Tote | Shop on Birch Lane, $70 Photo by Birch Lane
Ornament Storage Tote | Shop on Bed Bath & Beyond, $18.99 Photo by Bed Bath & Beyond

If you have a collection of special and sentimental ones like me, you might consider getting some boxes or totes specifically made to house and protect ornaments. There are moisture-resistant totes for damp or humid spaces, boxes that can easily slide under a bed for hidden storage, and boxes with hard lids for easy stacking.

Professional organizers also swear by clear containers, especially for seasonal items like Christmas ornaments. Since you're only (usually) looking for these items once a year, it's exceedingly helpful to see exactly what's in each box so as not to confuse a box of ornaments with a container full of tombstones and spider webs. Containers like this are clear and have sections to prevent ornaments from rolling around freely. This one also has a tray at the top, perfect for storing the little wire hooks that have a habit of going missing.

Rebrilliant Christmas Ornament Storage | Shop on Wayfair, $27.99 Photo by Wayfair
Winter Wonderland 36-Count Ornament Storage Box with Tray | Shop on Bed Bath & Beyond, $30 Photo by Bed Bath & Beyond

Use Seasonal Linens to pack

Instead of buying new tissue paper or bubble wrap, try wrapping ornaments in seasonal linens. If you're a household that loves putting out Christmas-themed hand towels and blankets, employ these as reusable ornament wrap. To most efficiently use the big pieces of fabric, roll up multiple ornaments and rubber band the fabric to separate each one and make sure they don't smack against each other.

Keep Hooks With Ornaments

For ornaments without a string or ribbon to hang them onto the tree, you've likely been using wire hooks. Instead of removing and storing them separately from the ornaments, keep them together and wrap them up in one package. This way, you won't be buying new hooks each year and decorating the tree will go much quicker with the hooks already attached.

Label Each Box

If there's one thing you take away from this article, let it be: Label. Your. Boxes. As someone who just moved into a new apartment, I've experienced first-hand what good labeling (or bad) can do for minimizing stress and unnecessary pawing through boxes in search of one particular thing. Seasonal decor storage is no different than moving boxes in this way and don't stop at labeling each box "ornaments" either—the more detail, the better. "Ornaments from 1990-2000" or "filler ornaments" would both be great indicators of what's inside, and this way, if you're not planning to use all your ornaments this year, you can just pull out the ones you really want.

A Note on Tissue Paper & Bubble Wrap

It's rare that we'd recommend something single-use, and this is no exception. If you're not into the idea of purchasing tissue paper or bubble wrap, definitely go for an ornament organizer with separated sections, or wrap up your favorites in seasonal linens or some other kind of fabric that will protect them.

However, if you buy tissue paper and bubble wrap or have some lying around after opening gifts, please don't just use them once. There are ornaments in my mother's stash wrapped in tissue paper that's yellowed with age. I also don't use any new wrapping for ornaments—I just keep what they came in and reuse that. It takes a long time to render these materials useless, so try to keep reusing them as long as you can.

Do you have any time-tested ornament storage methods? Tell us about them in the comments!

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When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.

1 Comment

Caroline S. December 30, 2021
I always take the wire hangers off each ornament. It's more efficient (to me) to separate them for storage and the older ones are much better than the lightweight new ones currently available. I store them in an ancient spread container with a red lid that is quite flat for its capacity, so it fits in the storage box, and it's at the top next year when it's time to decorate.