Save Time and Money Next Christmas

Christmas ornaments storage

So we’re in the thick of the holiday season right now. You’re busy and harried, so it’s too early to think about next Christmas, right? Wrong. Some common advice to prepare for next year is to hit the after-Christmas sales to get gifts for next year, to buy craft kits for next Christmas, or to stock up on decorations and other supplies for future holidays. That’s all helpful stuff and is great if you can do it, but it requires you to spend money. Problem is, you might not have any money left over after you buy gifts and food for this Christmas.

However, you can get a jump on next Christmas without spending any money. One surefire way to save time and money next Christmas is to make sure you end this Christmas organized and ready for next year. How many times have you gotten your decorations out of storage and struggled to find everything, had to replace broken items, had to clean up some mess or stain left from the previous year, or had to dig through piles of stuff you never use to find the stuff you do use? This is all a function of failing to plan for next year.

When the holiday is over, many people rush to put their stuff away rather than taking the time to get organized and ready for next year. They cram it in boxes and stuff it in the closet. But spending just a little extra time this year can pay off big and save money and time next year. Here are some steps to take this year to make sure you’re ready for next year.

Clean Your Items

If your ornaments have sap on them, clean it off. Wash or dry clean your table linens, tree skirts, and stockings to remove any stains and odors prior to putting them away. Any stains or odors that are on your items when you put them away will be nearly impossible to remove next year. You’ll either spend a lot of time cleaning next year, or you’ll be out looking for replacements.

Repair or Toss Anything Broken

If it’s broken now, it’ll still be broken next year. Things don’t magically fix themselves over the summer. If you can and want to fix it, do so now. Get that light string working again, or superglue that ornament together. If you can’t fix it, go ahead and toss it. (If you want to replace it, hit the after Christmas sales now rather than paying full price next year.) It’ll be one less thing to do or wade through next year.

Label Everything

Put labels on each box or bag so you know what’s in each one. When we take down our icicles, for example, we put each string in a bag and label the bag with the part of the house it goes on (laundry room, bedroom, etc.). This makes putting them up the next year a matter of simply matching bags to areas of the house, rather than struggling to figure out how it all went together last year. Before we got a pre-lit tree, we did the same things with the light strings. We put each in a bag labeled by section of the tree (bottom, top, etc.). It was much easier to get the lights on right that way. We label our ornament boxes according to which tree they go with (we put up two trees). Labels make it easy to find things and make “staging” the decorating process much easier.

Pack Things Carefully

Wrap ornaments carefully in protective paper or bubble wrap. Put things back in their original boxes if you kept them. Pack lighter/breakable stuff on top of the boxes rather than at the bottom. Wind your lights so they don’t tangle up. Make sure nothing is tearing at the fabric of your linens. The more careful you are about packing, the less breakage you will have and the easier it will be to put things up next year.

Arrange Your Storage Area

This means not putting the small boxes underneath the big heavy boxes in the attic. Don’t shove too many items into too small of a closet or you’ll crush things. Before shoving anything into a space, check to make sure you’re not going to crush something else that’s hiding behind it. Don’t set a heavy box of ornaments on top of a wreath unless you want to hang a pancake next year. Take care when putting stuff away rather than just tossing it willy-nilly into closets, attics, or under the bed.

Toss Stuff

Go ahead and get rid of things you no longer use. If you haven’t hung certain ornaments or used certain decorations in years, get rid of them. They’re just more stuff to dig through each year. People’s tastes change and their collections grow. What was once used all the time falls out of favor. If this is the case in your house, donate the things you no longer use, or give them to a relative or friend just starting their own Christmas collection.

Prevent Critter/Weather Destruction

Think carefully about where you’ll be storing your items and take the appropriate precautions. Use cedar chips or mothballs for fabric items to prevent insect infestations. Use plastic storage containers (not cardboard boxes) if there’s a chance the items might get wet. Use a dehumidifier or a product like Damp-Rid to get rid of humidity that can lead to mold. Don’t store anything that’s heat sensitive if you plan to put your items in the attic. (Candles will melt over the summer, I speak from experience). If your attic or shed routinely attract pests like squirrels, bats, or raccoons, make sure you use durable containers that can’t be chewed and will resist any poop that might get on them.

The more you take care of now, the less you’ll have to do next year. When it comes time to decorate again, you’ll thank yourself for taking the time to make everything organized and easy. And you won’t have to rush to the stores to replace non-working, damaged, or broken items, saving you both time and money.

(Photo courtesy of jamailac)

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10 Responses to Save Time and Money Next Christmas

  1. jay says:

    Totally agree; excellent advice!
    Photographs help, too. If you like how you did the decorations this year, why not memorialize for future reference.
    I am also a big believer in paring down, so that you have less to store, less to forget, less to break and have to replace: Holiday music on a memory card; use Furoshiki instead of paper for wrapping (clean before putting away), cloth ribbons can be kept on cardboard tubes; use natural, easily available products for decorating (pines/firs/seasonal flowers). Make a note of what works, when and where you got them, etc., as well as WHERE you stored things! Set a calendar reminder to pull out your notes, photos, so you get an early [enough] start. We’ve gone as far as to label boxes by number, with #1 being the first to pull out and use. I’ve also organized recipes, and menus. Holidays tend to be about traditions, so doing the same year after year works.

    Contrary to many, I also DON’T believe in purchasing gifts “early”. People’s tastes change, especially kids, and what was a great idea in February -not so great by December.

  2. Nice tips. “Toss stuff” can be hard for the bf. I’m fine with getting rid of things we don’t need/use. The bf is much more sentimental about “things”.

  3. Jo says:

    Great points all around. I am terrible with where I packed Christmas things. I know they’re in storage tubs and stack rather haphazardly in the garage. No labeling on the outside of the tubs to tell me what is in which….*sigh*

    I AM, however, good about tossing out useless stuff. My goal will be to go through storage tubs, toss and/or keep the items, label all tubs accordingly and then make a list of what I will need. This will insure no duplicating items or leaving out important ones for next season.

    Per Jay’s comment above, I am mixed on buying through the year. I agree that people’s desire for certain gift ideas change, and with how quickly technology changes, it’s better to wait for certain things. I prefer to wait on newly released tech things so the “kinks” are worked out first.

    Anyhoo…..a good lesson here. Thanks! 🙂

  4. Marie at FamilyMoneyValues says:

    Lots of work when you are in a hurry to start making those New Year resolutions come true – but well worth it. I’ve been doing most of the stuff (I never wash ornaments as we don’t use a live tree).

  5. Diane says:

    Photographs are a good idea! I take photos of the inside & outside decorations, so I can remember where things fit! Saves time trying to figure it out each year…

  6. Diane says:

    Great advice! It’s definitely helpful to get rid of things that are broken or lights that don’t work when you’re packing – saves space & time next year.

    I use plastic bins and pack things together by room as much as possible, then label the outside of the bins. I also try to label the light strings as to where they go as I take them down. For some reason I failed to do that last year, thinking I’d remember?? and had to do more sorting this year. Bad move!

    I also take photos inside & out to remember the placement of things.

    I confess to keeping a couple of boxes of things I no longer use (don’t have room in this house) but still want to keep. Some I may use again, or give to my sons when they move out. I just keep them in separate boxes labeled “Christmas Save” and don’t go through them each year.

  7. Marcia says:

    I agree that buying specific gifts early isn’t a good idea. BUT consider buying fancy glass ornaments or easily generic gifts for either sex at after Christmas sales and storing them away for the gift swaps, last minute office gifts and things of that nature that always seem to crop up at Christmas. It can really help your budget and your nerves to know you have something to fall back on if things come up at the last minute…and we all know they will!

  8. Pingback: Plan Now For Next Year’s Decorations | Lifehacker Australia

  9. Kathy says:

    Another idea I’ll add to these fantastic suggestions is to print a second set of holiday card address labels and pack them away with your leftover stationary from this year (I finally gave up trying to hand address mine a couple of years ago). A few people’s addresses may change, but not many. That way, you don’t have to fool around with printing them next year. You’ll be ready to go as soon as your cards are ready!

  10. Gloria Katona says:

    Another idea for those ornaments you no longer need/use/like. I wrap ribbon around my wrapped gift boxes and tie an ornament on the top — it makes for a pretty presentation and if the recipient likes it, it will be reused….if not, well, you were going to toss it anyway!

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