Christmas decorations are a once-a-year way to celebrate family history along with the season. Through careful treatment and then careful packing, some ornaments have lasted for decades as holiday keepakes. From the delicate glass ornaments hung on the tree to the special stainless linens draped over Christmas furniture, we preserve our holiday ornaments and decorations with extreme care.
Tradition is a great way to learn about packing Christmas ornaments, but you may be starting your own ornament tradition or looking to improve on old methods. Today, we’re here to share a few helpful tips on how to safely clean and store Christmas decorations so they are beautiful year after year.
Gently Dust and Polish As You Pack
It’s helpful to clean your holiday decorations as you prepare to store them. Keep a dust-cloth handy and a spray bottle of gentle cleaner handy as you wrap up your decorations for the year. For indoor decorations, a quick dusting is often sufficient and helps to preserve any paint or details on the outside of each ornament. For outdoor decorations, you may want to carefully wash off the dust or outdoor grime before packing the decorations away.
Coil Strands Onto a Rack or Reel
For strands of lights, tinsel, and other long string-type decorations: coil them around a rack or reel. Do not simply loop and tie the strands. If you want them to survive storage and unwind easily next year, keep your racks and reels or replace with sturdy reels to easily spool and unspool all your strand decorations. Even those with tangle-ready dangling bits will unspool more easily with a reel.
The Right Size Boxes and Grid-Separators
It’s very helpful to have the right sized boxes when re-packing Christmas decorations. Keep the box (and styrofoam mold) it came in and pack them all back into the decorations box like retail, if you can. If you don’t have the original packaging or if the packaging was not built to last, then make sure the new container is the right size.
Grid-separators are essential for smaller decorations. These can be cardboard grids in a box or you can purchase a gridded storage box for your long-term decorations. Nestle decorations into slots that are slightly larger than the item, with room for a layer or two of crinkled packing paper.
Use and Re-Use Packing Paper
Always have packing paper ready. Christmas decorations are most safely stored when padded from movement and from each other. Wrap every decoration in a layer of packing paper, crinkled to create padded space. Then nestle the item into a correctly shaped and fitting slot or back in the original box. Each year, save the packing paper and keep it in the same box that the ornaments came out of, so you can easily re-pack the lot with the same paper year after year.
Stain-Treat Fabric with Gentle Cleanser
For table cloths, curtains, doilies, and other holiday linens; watch out for stains. If you see a stain, dab it gently with stain cleanser and rinse. If the item is not washable, lay it out to dry after rinsing, then fold and put away. For machine-washable linens, stain-treat them first, then wash, then dry and put away.
Be careful about embroidered or lace tablecloths. Anything that can snag should be washed gently and dried with care – to prevent pilling or loose threads.
Stuff Negative Space with Crinkled Paper
In each box of ornaments, stuff the negative space with scrunched and crinkled packing paper. Pad the bottom and lower corners of the box, then pad the top and empty spaces in the box with packing paper as well. This will prevent knock-around damage and pad all your ornaments from any bumps the box takes in storage.
Whether you have hundreds of decorations or just a few, glass orbs or outdoor santas, this process will ensure that your decorations are clean and read to go up beautifully again next year.