Now that the holidays are passed, and we are coming up on the New Year, it's about that time when people start to put away their holiday decorations. Here are some mistakes that you may be making.
1. Working solo
Like folding king-size sheets, storing holiday decorations with a partner makes things much easier, says Darla DeMorrow, author of "Organize Your Home With Sort and Succeed."
"Having someone to help with carting the storage boxes up and down can shorten the process," she says.
And who knows, she adds, you might uncover some things that will make you more efficient next year—like that one of you doesn't mind schlepping boxes, while the other likes the tedium of packing things in bubble wrap.
2. Not properly protecting your decorations
And speaking of bubble wrap, don't gloss over this step.
"Not taking the time to protect delicate items is a big mistake when it comes to putting away holiday decor," says Jamie Novak, author of "Keep This Toss That."
It's normal to want to rush through this tedious job so you can be done with it, but moving too quickly will just result in breakage.
3. Forgetting to cull (and donate) your decorations
If you didn't put it up this year, what are the chances you'll do it next year?
"Anything that's in disrepair or out of favor I toss," Gray-Plaisted says.
After all, it's a good excuse to shop the after-Christmas sales—where you're sure to find new items that you'll actually want to display next year. And on that note, make sure to save room in storage for anything you might buy.
"You will get more, so don't pack your bins all the way to the top," Novak says.
Before you toss your purged decorations in the trash, though, consider donating them. Shelters, public libraries, health care centers, and other nonprofits might welcome the chance to give your used decorations a second life.
4. Tossing decorations in willy-nilly
If you have garland in four different boxes, you'll never keep track of it from year to year. Instead, store like with like.
"Put items to decorate the outside together, and place soft goods in their own bin, such as tablecloths, stockings, runners, and napkins," Gray-Plaisted suggests.
And be sure to pack up the pieces, parts, and written directions for each item together.
"You think you'll remember how to set up the tree, but you won't," Novak cautions.
5. Labeling your decorations vaguely
On a related note, once you've packed things together, get out that magic marker. Sure, you'll write "lights" on the box of lights, but try to be more specific when it comes to labeling your containers. Are the lights for the mantel, mailbox, Christmas tree, or something in the yard?
Novak also recommends labeling boxes as "X out of X" (e.g., "5 out of 7"). If you do this, you won't miss out on a box or search for one that doesn't exist.
6. Cheaping out on organizational supplies
Stop yourself before reaching for those brown paper bags!
"Make this the year to invest in sturdy containers for all your ornaments," Gray-Plaisted urges.
"They may seem pricey, but good ones can last the rest of your life," DeMorrow adds.
And as long as you're splurging, opt for red and green containers that are easy to spot in a garage or storage space.
7. Not keeping notes
As you put things away, make notes on what needs replacing or items you need to add your collection (e.g., broken lights, stained cocktail napkins, or a bigger turkey platter for next year). With a detailed list, you can strategically hit those half-price sales in January and fill in the holes for next year.