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Behind the Scenes: Christmas Decorating

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Why Decorating for Christmas Matters and How to Store and Organize Your Christmas Decorations

I have been busy…busy hauling out the holly and Christmas decorations :-)   I have been preparing the house for the holidays and my Christmas Home tour post that is scheduled for next Wednesday. There is something so special about Christmas decorating.

Many of you have asked me what I do with all the decor I write about – how I store it all.  I thought I would share a little bit about that with you today as I put the finishing touches on my Christmas Decorating.

I worked for many years in retail display where it was my job to find ways to store all the decorations on a daily basis.  I learned a lot about the best and easiest way to do it.  Square or rectangular boxes that stack, labeling, and hanging items from the ceiling are a few ways I store decorative items in my house.


Most of the decorative seasonal decor I use goes to my basement.  Goodbye fall decor…you are on your way… down.  I place these items in boxes and clear plastic bins that are stackable until I need them next year. I hang some bags and odd shaped items from hooks in the ceiling.  Each one gets a label of some sort.

The basement is storage central for most of my decor stash.  I have written about it in this post:  How to Declutter a Basement


Use plastic see-through bins to store decorative items.  These allow you to easily stack and see what is in each at a glance. They also keep items safe from moisture. Check this page for many free printable labels to use. 


My Christmas decor gets stored in the attic. It’s not as accessible, but we only need it once each year and have worked out a process to bring it down fairly quickly.


I usually use the guest room as my staging area, but this year I decided to use the open space in my new fitness room (It used to be my oldest daughter’s bedroom). I can still use my Pilates Reformer, so I am a happy camper getting to spread out the decorations to see what I will use this year.

I like to change things up a little each year, but some of the items have to be part of the decor or I will hear it from my daughters since they like to see the items they grew up with displayed.

storage ideas for holiday decorations

I learned just how much what I do each year to transform the house for Christmas means to them.

About 13 years ago my appendix decided to rupture in early December and I was in the hospital for a week.  The entire time I was there, I kept thinking I would not have the energy to get the house decorated when I got home.  Little did I know that my oldest who was in 10th grade at the time and was always at school when I decorated the house, took the task on all by herself as a surprise for me.  She never actually saw me put the items up, but she sure had a mental note of where it went and how it looked in her head.


When I came home from the hospital and walked into the house I was greeted by not only Christmas music playing and cookies baking in the oven, but the house was decorated top to bottom, EXACTLY how I always did it with every detail in place.

It brought tears to my eyes to see how she had tied bows perfectly to the garlands, the kissing ball hung just so from the foyer light, the stockings lined up along the mantel, candles set out with greenery, the foyer table…she had every detail in place just the way I always did it.

It became apparent to me at that moment that decorating the house for Christmas mattered! It is worth the time and effort each and every year. What I thought I was only doing for myself, really made my family happy, too.


So even though it takes some effort, I decorate my house to make it festive for the holidays for all to enjoy.  I don’t decorate every room, just the first floor.  The exterior of the house gets white lights, wreaths and candles in every window.


I worked at Nordstroms one Christmas and got these sturdy gold and silver coat boxes to use to hold items that are only used infrequently. Even though I haven’t used them in a few years I know that one of my daughters may like them someday.   The gingerbread man box is from my parent’s house.  It is old, but still sturdy. I keep all the Christmas cookie tins we use each year for the cookies we make in the box.

For very delicate ornaments, I wrap them in bubble wrap first (the kind with the smaller bubbles) and then place each in a cup. Check out this post to see how I do this: Insta-Style – Christmas Ornament Storage


The boxes in this corner hold items for the tree – lights and ornaments. We have a lot.  My daughters each have their own box of ornaments.   The wood triangle against the wall is a decoration that Ed made when he was a child. He used a wood burning tool to draw Santa and his sleigh. It needs new lights, but is one of those decorations that make you smile and we’ll never part with.


If I was told I could only use one item stored in these boxes to decorate for the holidays, it would have to be the electric candles in each window.  The house is not Christmas without these in place.

Besides the tree, the rest of the decor is made up of:

  • greenery
  • ornaments
  • candles
  • ribbons

Once the decor is down from the attic, I like to spread it all out on the floor so that I can easily see and then pick and choose what and how I will use each item. Not everything in these boxes makes it into the decor each year.


I don’t use these ornaments for the tree. I use them around the house in different ways each year.

DIY-TipI started saving the plastic zipper bags that blankets and comforters come in to further organize the ornaments in each bin by color.



For the candles and holders I like to place all around, I employ a cabinet in my kitchen.


I buy most of my candles at IKEA. They have large and small tea lights as well as unscented pillar style.  I buy battery operated tea lights at Michaels.


I store a wide variety of ribbons in the crafts cabinet in my studioffice.


This is where I bring what I am going to use – my studioffice.  When I am in decorating mode – it looks like this – a creative mess, but one that I function well in.

Once the decorations are up, I will stack the bins and boxes in the corner of the room until it is time to take the decorations down in early January.  I usually organize and clean out what I don’t need in each box before they go back up to the attic.

The house usually looks pretty bare after the holidays.  This is when I go to my basement to shop for something to use to add some life back to the decor. Since it is a slow time of year, it is also when I try to tackle getting the basement organized. Trips to Walmart and Target are always needed to get more or bigger see-through bins as I reorganize the space. One of these years I am going to do it so well that it will never ever become a mess again.  :-)

How do you store and organize your holiday decorations? If you have any tips, please share them in the comments.

Why do it? Decorating for Christmas can take so much time and energy, but in the end you will find it was worth all the effort.

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  1. Thanks for the great post. Our basement is a finished walkout…so no real storage. I’ve got some decor stored in our garage, some in a closet under the stairs, and some in a spare room closet. I’ve pared down the decorations over the years, but still have quite a bit. One thing I’ve always found to be helpful, like you, is to separate ornaments by color, in plastic bags…only the non-breakables. Ziplocks have kept me sane! ;)

    1. Hi Donnamae – Thanks for sharing the tip about using the Ziplock bags. I always forget that they even make them in large sizes now. I will be buying a few to use when I take the decorations down.

  2. Thanks for the great post, Diane! It was interesting to see how you manage all your decorations and gave me some new ideas to store my decorations. The bins are definitely being used at our house and now I will incorporate some of your ideas for storage too! It is a little more challenging because I don’t have as much storage area as you do. We do the best with what we have!
    When my boys were young I decorated for them (and myself ;)) now I decorate for my grandkids (and myself)!

    1. Hi MaryJean – I bet your grandkids love coming to your house and seeing the decor, even your sons must still love seeing it since they grew up in a home that was decorated for the holidays. Happy Holidays

  3. Very informative and I like your tips, Diane. I have been keeping those plastic zipper packages that bed linens and curtains came in and I will have to incorporate them into my Christmas décor storage. I have that on my list to start off the new year – to go through the Christmas decorations and get it organized better. There are just some things that haven’t come out for a few years now and I don’t think I will use them anymore so they will go.

    What I’d like to do is set up bins and boxes with like items, like all my faux greenery in one bin. If I could manage it, all my snowmen in another, Santas in another and so on.

    1. Hi Kathy – The invention of the clear plastic bin has truly helped many of us get our stuff organized. Storing like items in each bin is a great idea. I have been editing too, taking things that I no longer use or know my daughters don’t want either to the thrift store. I still have a lot, but it is a good feeling to get it under control. I do wish I had better access to my attic. It is not easy to get to. If it was I would be able to keep it all there and not have to bring it all down. That would save a lot of time and keep me from having to stage it in a bedroom.

  4. We store our Christmas decorations muuch the same as you do, in plastic bins and a few cardboard boxes. I wish I had enough room to keep all of the boxes in one place. I have the tree decorations, dining room, kitchen and den decorations in a closet in my living room that is never used. I have a large two door closet, what I think must have been built originally as a china cupboard, in my hallway. I use the shelves in there for all of my different seasonal decorations that I don’t want to put away in boxes. I just cover them with plastic. The tree, wreaths (indoor and outdoor) and ribbons are in large plastic bins in the basement. I have got it kind of strung out all over, but at least, everything is in a sturdy container. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to get all of the boxes in the same place…I say that every year.

  5. I have wondered where you store it all :) thanks for a great post that really resonated with me about the importance to our children because this year I keep asking myself why I go to all this trouble to decorate.I read your article in Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Ideas this week and it is FANTASTIC! I turned down nearly every page for future reference. I always envy you gals with basements since i am in South Florida where a basement would actually be a swimming pool ;-) but if I had one I would likely just have more stuff to go through! My tip is that since we are storage challenged down here I store the things i normally have out in the empty Christmas boxes until I take down Christmas.