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  • Jenny Hayes

How you’ve been putting your decorations away all wrong & the simple trick for untangled lights

AFTER hours of putting up decorations to make your home cosy and festive, it seems like the tree is barely up before you have the arduous task of taking it all back down again.

And while it can be really tempting to just shove it all in a box and deal with the tangled lights and disorganised decorations next year, a little bit of thought now can make the job next Christmas a joy rather than a stress.

Future you will be grateful for the leg work you put in now

Here, KonMari Certified Consultants from The Spark Joy Collective – all trained by top declutterer Marie Kondo - share their top tips for packing away Christmas decorations…

Festive forward thinking

Firstly, never underestimate the power of a little bit of forward thinking - both when putting up the decorations, and taking them down.

Organising pro Romano Reynolds says: "Planning and preparation can make your life that little bit easier when it reaches that time to take down the Christmas decorations.

"Your future self will thank you!” Think carefully about the order in which you’ll need the decorations next Christmas when packing them away.

Mimi Bogelund says: “If you like to decorate your home over a few weeks, pack ornaments away in the order you want to use them so you can grab one box at a time. “Pack advent candle holders, unused Christmas cards and Christmas wrap together. Advent often falls in November and you can start wrapping presents early as you buy them. “If each main room has specific decor, pack a box per room rather than by type of ornament.”

Rosie Barron also recommends ‘Joy Checking’ your decorations before packing them – a technique Marie Kondo suggests you do with every item you own, to check if it brings you joy. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. Pack ornaments away in the order you want to use them. You don’t need to spend loads on expensive storage solutions to keep your decorations tidy either.

Aline Lau says: “Use Pringle crisps or tennis ball containers to store different Christmas decorations, and label them with the categories. “They will be useful to store small ornaments, beads, chain and ribbons for example. “Also, have a Christmas toolbox where you can store all the tools necessary for the Holiday Season, like ornament hooks, hangers, wire, double sided tape, spare lights, and scissors.”

Victoria Nicholson adds: “Egg cartons make great storage for small baubles. “Remember to label clearly as it will make it so much easier for you when you unpack next year. “Also, wrap tree lights around the inside tube from wrapping paper or around a notched piece of card to prevent tangling. “Don’t forget to remove batteries from any battery operated lights.” Don't waste money on expensive storage solutions - egg cartons and Pringle tubes are the perfect containers. No one wants the stress of untangling the lights next Christmas.

Taking down the tree is the biggest task. Sue Spencer says: “Start removing decorations at the bottom of the tree and work your way upwards as this lessens the chance of knocking things off as your work. "Take the ornaments off first, then tinsel and finally the lights.

"If you have a real Christmas tree you’ll need to get it out of the house whilst minimising the number of needles that drop on the way. "If you’ve use a large sheet on the floor you can wrap the tree in it and carry it out or you can also put your Christmas tree in an old duvet cover. "I always tackle the Christmas tree first as it’s often the largest decorative item in the home and will create lots of extra space once removed."

We're all so busy, it can be tempting to shove everything in a box and make the resulting mess next year's problem. Here, Mimi reveals the top mistakes everyone makes when it comes to packing away Christmas decorations…

  • Rushing it. Try to enjoy packing decorations away, it’s disappointing if your precious ornaments are damaged because you rushed it.

  • Be careful. Use bubble wrap, tissues or any soft paper inside boxes for delicate pieces if you haven’t got specific containers. Egg boxes, empty Pringle tubes, small gift boxes all in a bigger box will do the job.

  • Not labelling boxes. Avoid having to hunt down Christmas décor by using a permanent marker, sticky label or gift tag to help you identity it.

  • Missing Christmas decs and having them around them all year. Typically bedlinen, table cloths, specific crockery, tea towels etc. They don’t need to take up space in cupboards we use every day.

  • Keeping ornaments we don’t like or that are broken. Christmas is a joyful time and what is the point of keeping something we want to use or is past it’s best?

Belinda Knox has a helpful way to remember who to put on your Christmas card list. She says: “Take them all down and make a note of who has sent you a Christmas card.

“Keep the front for labels for next year, or to hang around the house next year for decoration.“At any point you can then write your Christmas cards for next year! “Writing cards takes quite a while so it’s good to get this time earmarked in advance. “You can also gauge how many cards you want to send next year – which then means you can decide early how many you want to buy.”

Finally, don't rush the task. Jane Fern says: "Always be kind to your future self when packing away decorations and take some time to do it well."

Published in The Sun, written by Miranda Knox, January 2023

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