Independence Day 2012 has come to an end. Some of you may have hosted barbecues, others lit off fireworks, and there were likely many of you who dressed up both the inside and outside of your homes with decorations sporting the traditional red, white, and blue.
Just as with any holiday, once the festivities are over, you’ll need to take down your decorations and put them away until next year. The key is storing them so that you can find everything you need when that time rolls around again, keep them out of the way of your normal living paths until then, and store them safely so as not to invite bugs or pests into your home or the decorations. But, before you run out to get containers, keep these five organizing principles in mind:
- Gather like items together. As much as possible, keep all Fourth-of-July-related decor together so that they’re easy to find. Better yet, keep all banners together, all wall hangings together, all table cloths together, etc. Once packaged up, store them adjacent to other spring/summer items in your holiday storage.
- Make them accessible. Put your items away in a spot you can get to fairly easily and safely. If you have to move other things out of the way to reach them, it will be difficult to get what you want and to put them back when the time comes. Also, you don’t want to end up in the emergency room of your local hospital.
- Label your containers. Put a label (write “Fourth of July” or add an American Flag sticker) on your boxes to help you remember what’s inside the boxes without having to open the containers. It’s helpful to put a list of the contents on the outside of the box as well (e.g. two wreaths, one box of streamers) so you know how much you have and don’t go off buying duplicates in the future.
- Keep some original packaging. If the items are delicate, try to store them in their original boxes for additional protection (e.g. plates, paper crafts).
- Keep the good stuff. Only store items for the year that are in good condition and that you plan to use again. Trash or recycle broken items. Donate or give away items to friends that you no longer want but are still in good condition.
Only after you sort and organize and know exactly how much storage you’re going to need is it a good idea to buy containers. And, if you already have storage containers, you won’t need to buy anything at all.
If you’ll be storing a flag for the year, it is respectful to treat it well. If dirty, you can hand wash it in mild detergent. Or, if you prefer, you can dry clean it. According to the Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC), some dry cleaners offer complimentary cleaning services for U.S. flags during the months of June and July. The FCIC also suggests keeping flags in an area that is well ventilated. Store it in an area you would other fine textiles, like a linen closet, instead of in an old garage, basement, or attic.
Flags are typically folded in a triangle which can require two people to do properly. Once it’s folded, put it in a triangular flag case or a container lined with acid-free paper made to hold nice linens.