Un-decorating Christmas

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It’s that sad time of year when it’s time to put away all the treasured Christmas decorations for another year.  As much fun as I have putting up decorations, putting them away is more important to me.

Since we don’t always know when the Air Force will be moving us again, I need to carefully pack our decorations every year so they’re ready for a cross-country or overseas move every year.   I have to be careful every time I pack them away.

I joke that I have the “Garanimals” decorations since I never know where I’ll display decorations in the next house.   I envy those of you that can find the perfect place for the perfect decoration and then joyfully display it there every year.  But I have to be flexible in what decorations go where each time we move.

Oh, and did I tell you that we have 18 tubs of indoor decorations plus 4 boxes of tree decorations, plus 5 boxes of outdoor decorations and lights, plus 3 boxes of wreathes?  I have friends that have 4 times that amount, but this is more than enough for me to manage each year.

Over the years I’ve developed a system that works well for us.


1.  I’ve grouped my decorations by theme and then designated a theme for each room.  That way we have a tradition with our decorations no matter where we live and how different each new house is.  I find my “bathroom snowmen” label amusing.  It’s funny how you look at things differently when you post them on a blog for the world to see.  I’d never thought anything about the label before.

2 red and green tubs, one of them with the labels bathroom and snowmen

2.  I have labeled each tub by the category of decorations and the room that those decorations go in.  This makes it much easier to unpack the decorations in a new house.  There have been times when the house is considerably smaller than our previous house, so I simply don’t unpack one or two of the tubs.  I’m able to decide which tubs to save without having to open them all  For example, in a couple of our houses we only had a living room and not a family room.  So, I simply didn’t unpack the family room tubs that year.

a collage of 4 images of tubs and a box labelled with the name of a room in the house or what Christmas decoration is in it

3.  I try to keep the original packaging for decorations.  I figure if the manufacturer decided that packaging would protect the item in shipment to the store for sale, it was probably well-designed to protect the item.  For those items that don’t have packaging (for whatever reason), I keep bubble wrap envelopes that mail-order medications arrive in and use them.  This has worked well for us with our decorations moving 13 times, including overseas twice and to Hawaii.  No major damage to any of our decorations.

4.  Each of my children have their own box of Christmas decorations and the 4th box is for my husband’s and my decorations.  My family has a tradition of giving children a new ornament each year, so between the ones they get from their dad and I , the ones they get from each set of grandparents and the ones they’ve received from friends, they each have 30 or more ornaments of their own.  I wrap the ornaments that don’t have individual packaging in tissue paper and pack them tightly in the ornament box.  I started a list for each child that lists the year, the ornament they received and who gave it to them.  My mom did the same for me. Thank goodness, I’d never remember where and when I’d received ornaments that are now precious to me.  The list is currently handwritten, but the year that they move out on their own, I’ll type the list up neatly for them.

5.  I’ve received two sets of Christmas dishes as gifts over the years. Some day, I dream of having a butler’s pantry where I can keep both sets of dishes out and ready for the holidays. But for now I pack the dishes away in their original boxes so that they’re ready for an impending moves.  It’s worked well for us so far.  My first set of dishes has moved 5 times to 5 different states, including Hawaii and  we haven’t lost a dish to breakage yet.  Some of the dishes were gifts that did not come with their original boxes.  I carefully pack them in boxes and then clearly label them.

2 boxes labelled with what Christmas household product is in them

6.  This year I added a list of all serving pieces for our Christmas dish set.  This year I had the flu at the start of December so my organized decorating schedule was thrown to the wind.  When we sat down for Christmas dinner, we realized that I hadn’t unpacked the gravy boat or one of the serving dishes.  So, as I packed the dishes away, I created a list of all the serving dishes we have.  That way I won’t forget anything next year…hopefully.

a box with a paper on top with a list of all of the serving pieces that are in the box

I’m late this year in packing things away, but we’re almost done here.  Hope your un-decorating is going smoothly for you.

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  1. Organizing stuff before you put it away really makes a huge difference. I like the “Bathroom Snowman” label. It is something to smile about when taking down the decorations.

  2. That’s great you’re so organized with your decorations. It must be hard to always have to be ready to move, though.

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