Home Forums Welcome Hello! Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

This topic contains 29 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Avatar of trillie trillie 3 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #158819
    Avatar of toberead
    toberead
    Member

    My family always loved Christmas. We always decorated the house, and I have a lot of memories of trimming the tree with the special ornaments that we collected. But now I live alone, and I’ve pared down my Christmas “stuff” to just one large container – mostly just the ornaments that have sentimental value. During the off season, they are neatly packed away and very “uncluttered”.

    The problem is that I find it difficult to use them during the holidays. Each ornament is individually wrapped to keep it safe (they’re stored in segmented cardboard trays that fit inside a plastic bin), and all the wrapping and unwrapping seems to take forever, not to mention having to keep track of stacks of tissue paper in various sizes and finding the right size wrapping for each ornament. Then when I try to pack everything away, I have to be a packing wizard to get everything into the right size slot and packed away into the container. It seems like such a chore that some years I don’t decorate at all – but then I feel disappointed.

    I would be willing to sacrifice some storage space and money if I could find a way to store my ornaments that didn’t require wrapping each of them individually. But I’ve looked around online and I haven’t seen anything that would store ornaments of different sizes and shapes (everything from tiny eggs that are less than 1″ long to large snowflakes that are 6″ across) and keep them safe from breakage. Any ideas? Maybe I need to look for something that’s not marketed specifically at “Christmas ornament storage” but I’m not sure where to start.

  • #171927
    Avatar of Nithy
    Nithy
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    What about a tackle box or tool box? Line the individual sections with bubble wrap to keep the fragile ornaments safe. Or perhaps a larger craft container with smaller modular inserts–some with space for bigger ornaments and some for smaller.

  • #171931
    Avatar of Another Deb
    Another Deb
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    I am right there with you toberead! Especially when you say that some years it is just too much trouble to decorate at all.

    Check out the scrapbook section of the store for plastic boxes that hold the 12x 12 paper. They are about 6 inches deep and can stack. Create a custom “nest” of tissue paper in each one for a size you plan to store there. The cool thing is that they come in colors, so you can identify the most fragile, the wooden ones, etc. as you unpack or repack.

    Here’s my hacker idea for streamlining the packaging. There is a very thin foam wrap that I sometimes find wrapped around a new DVD player or other electronic device. It’s not much thicker than tissue paper and has a slippery surface that does not grab onto glitter that is applied to the ornament. Very thin bubble wrap would work as well, as long as you could make a stapler work through two layers of it. (I might have to go dumpster diving in the local cardboard recycling bin after Christmas to get some of this stuff out of the trash.)

    I am hoping to create open pockets or a sort of “mini shoe sorter” out of strips of this stuff, stapled together I can then insert the ornament in the pockets and lay the strips, open end up, in the boxes.

  • #171936
    Avatar of Sky
    Sky
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    When I streamlined my Christmas decorations, I bought a small 3′ tree, decorated it and after Christmas I put it in my hall closet still decorated. The rest of the decorations go in a Rubbermaid box on the shelf.
    No more dragging anything down from the attic or like you, storage issues.
    It makes Christmas so much more enjoyable.

  • #171943
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    If you work out a storage that eliminates the individual wrapping, then once you have them all packed, take a photo that shows how they are arranged and keep it with the storage box.

  • #171956
    Avatar of irishbell
    irishbell
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    I individually wrap the fragile, glittery, breakable ornaments in an appropriately sized piece of tissue, saved from all the years before- many pieces of tissue are now 20 years old. I carefully place these in a large plastic bin, 1 or 2 layers at a time- then separate them by a thin foam sheet. The wooden, metal,resin, non-breakables are placed in an amongst the others. These all go in a large plastic bin. It’s easy enough. I don’t know how you’d get away with not wrapping the fragile ones, unless you have a foam lined box that has a multitude of layered, separate cushioned cubbies. I’ve seen several plastic or cardboard boxes like this, but nothing that is cushioned.

  • #171959
    Avatar of Jude2004
    Jude2004
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    I’ve never even considered wrapping even one of my ornaments. Do some of them break from year to year? Nope. They’re stuck in a few boxes in the basement where they don’t get disturbed. I have plenty of fragile ornaments, but they just don’t break while they’re stored in a box. Next time, you might experiment with *not* wrapping even one of them so that you can see that this extra work probably isn’t necessary.

  • #171962
    Avatar of guest
    guest
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    It sounds to me like while you like the ornaments, you probably don’t see as much sentimental value in them as you thought. If it feels like a chore to unwrap them every year, just don’t do it. It’s not essential; neglecting to do it won’t turn into a health or safety hazard as neglecting to clean your kitchen would. You could try and just put all the ornaments in their box with only a bit of cushioning but not individually wrapped. Sure, something might break ( and I’d only suggest this if the possible breakage can’t potentially injure you when handling the ornaments), but you’ll be able to get more joy out of using them while you still have them, even if you’ll have lost a few along the way. As an alternative, why not look for some new ornaments; maybe ones made of straw? They’ll be a breeze to store and handle, And they still lend a lot of festive air!

  • #171963
    Avatar of irishbell
    irishbell
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    It takes me maybe 2 hours to pluck the ornaments from the tree- wrap and box them. It’s part of the Christmas ritual and I truly enjoy looking at them one last time before they are boxed up for the next 11 months. I don’t consider it a chore in the least. I have some beautiful ones that I treat with as much care as I do my favorite china pieces. If I didn’t like them, I guess I wouldn’t care if they got wrapped or not. But then I wouldn’t have them to begin with if I didn’t really like and value them.

  • #171969

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    We went to the mountains and cut down live trees with a Forest Service permit for 25+ years.

    It was fun. We had tailgate picnics in the snow some years. Some years there was no snow. Lugging the trees back to the truck was sometimes a real killer. It was my wife’s favorite day of the year. She made the hot chocolate with schnapps. I lugged the trees.

    That thankfully ended. The drought years in Colorado took a toll on the trees. They would only be fresh for a week or so and we took them down as soon as possible for fear of the fire hazard.

    We now have an artificial tree that looks better than any of the old “Charley Brown” trees we cut down and later recycled.

    Decorating is still a drag-and so is carefully storing the ornaments after Christmas.

    The whole thing is just for grand kids now.

    Other than that, bah humbug! I’d rather winter in the Caribbean. The grand kids would like that too.

  • #171971
    Avatar of charmed2482
    charmed2482
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    I stopped doing all the Christmas stuff after being on my own for a while, I even gave away all my stuff, including ornaments I thought of as sentimental. I just stopped caring if my own place was decorated. I can look at pretty tress just about anywhere else so I don’t need to see them at home too, and its way to much hassle and I just didn’t want to be bothered with it anymore. Thankfully my boyfriend who I love with doesn’t care so we just don’t decorate at all. we don’t even wrap each others presents.

  • #171972
    Avatar of charmed2482
    charmed2482
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    for the ornaments I would suggest just making a custom box with compartments the size you need them and then gluing foam around the edges to protect the ornaments so they don’t need to be wrapped. you will probably have to compensate for the thickness of the foam in deciding how big the compartments will be. then as someone else suggested, take a picture of them when they are all put away and leave that in the box with them.

    if you don’t want to do that, when you are unwrapping them, make sure to put that piece back into the slot the ornament came out of so you will have the right size piece to wrap it back up with. that combined with the picture of where everything goes should help a lot.

  • #171973
    Avatar of Rozzie
    Rozzie
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    A few thoughts…

    Bubble wrap “pouches” — I am sure these are available ready made, but you could make your own from bubble wrap with the help of a stapler or some tape. Make them once & use them from year to year.

    Quilt batting — put a layer in a plastic or cardboard box & layer in the ornaments. Lay in another layer of batting, then a layer of ornaments. You might still wrap any SUPER fragile ornaments that you are especially attached to.

  • #171978
    Avatar of ozazure
    ozazure
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    Just lay them on bubble wrap or foam or even layers of fabric, with a decent gap between them, and layer. Unless you are moving house, this is more than sufficient to stop them clanging together and breaking, just be careful with the box. I have glass and delicate ornaments in 3 or 4 xmas gift boxes, the hard glossy cardboard sort. I use the boxes under the tree to decorate until the real pressies arrive. They live in a bigger plastic box with the larger ornaments for the rest of the year.

  • #171979
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    i am so unchristmassy that you may as well call me scrooge grinch humbug.
    however
    there is no point having the things if you can’t easily access them and enjoy them once a year.
    it absolutely makes sense to make them nice and user-friendly.

    i would get a large box: shallow and wide, rather than deep and narrow, if that makes sense.
    i would line the box with velvet or something soft.
    then i’d get my local handyperson to make me some dividers out of plywood.
    i’d start with the bottom layer and have all the largest things there and then build my way up to the top with decreasing sizes.
    in between each layer, i’d slap down bubble wrap or cut up yoga mats.
    if i was especially organised (and i know some of you are), i’d take photos of each item and stick that photo into each section where the item lives.
    this makes repacking very simple…organise it once and do it on auto-pilot from then on.

  • #171982
    Avatar of djk
    djk
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    warning: long, gushing, can’t-wait-for-the-holidays post ahead:

    I decorated for Christmas even when single and living alone. And all my friends gathered at my house as a result. I LOVE it.

    I have very delicate handblown glass ornaments and they live in little boxes with tissue nests (slap down tissue, place them on top with space between as Ozazure already mentioned, another layer of tissue) then the small boxes are placed in a big box which gets tossed up on a high shelf in our one closet. The only ones I have ever had break are the cheap generic coloured glass balls etc. And the only reason they break is because DC (Dear Cat) adores them and chases them around the house and then for some reason really likes to bite them each once. I probably would never use ornaments which I felt were so precious they each had to be handwrapped carefully and arduously.

    Another thought:
    Christmas decorating is so often overdone. Not everything has to be out every year. I am especially fond of one cranberry wreath which goes over a mirror, with wide ribbon trailing from it, one wreath on the door of the flat, a fresh tree with sparse decoration–you wouldn’t believe how much more festive and elegant a simple tree can be than an overdone one–and an advent wreath on the table.
    The blanket throws we need in a drafty old European apartment are swapped out for red ones.
    And decorating is done.

    If you don’t like decorating but like entertaining you can do what I used to do:
    throw a party where your tree is up, lights are on it, but every guest is handed a bowl or basket of one type of ornament, and an eggnog/mulled wine, as they arrive. Strangers become instant friends when they have to participate in something. And I always had the best trees:)

  • #172010
    Avatar of austen
    austen
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    About 5 years ago got rid of all ornaments. Bought my first easily assembled artificial tree with colored lights.
    White, 6 feet, packs small, up and down in 10 minutes. Looks great.

  • #172011
    Avatar of cooj
    cooj
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    This is a problem I also have. Mine is a huge ordeal that makes me want to not decorate but my family really complains and when I get started, I can’t seem to stop. A few ideas/observations. Christmas is an emotional time and your dread of the project might have something to do with having to do it on your own. Think about each of the steps you go through when you decorate. See if you can feel the spot where it begins to be too big of a chore.
    Plan the process in increments. Hire someone to help.
    Divide the ornaments into several smaller boxes so that it is not an all or nothing project. Clearly label each box and decide that you might only want to unpack and use one box, not all three, etc. See how you feel about it.
    Unpack them earlier than usual and get them organized into separate bowls, baskets or clear containers that look nice on their own. Time how long it takes to unpack them and know you’ll need a little more time as they go back in storage. Again, break it up into manageable for you time allotments. If it all seems too much, perhaps you’ll gift some of the ornaments to friends who would like to have them.
    I hope you enjoy the holidays regardless of what you do about your ornaments.
    Peace

  • #172012
    Avatar of aussie kath
    aussie kath
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    warning – nostalgic and longish post ahead:
    Like you toberead my childhood memories are filled with fabulous chrismas’s past – real trees that touched the ceilings, roast turkey and pudding with all the trimmings on a summer’s day, and the most wonderful european glass decorations on our tree – it was all such a lovely family ritual.
    Although I never matched the level of enthusiasm my mum created, I did my version of this for my son… tree, decorating the tree ritual, present from father christmas, special christmas foods. Some years I decorated with a few twigs in a lovely vase as the “tree”, some years, we decorated with just a few favourites. Sparse can be beautiful as djk suggests.
    These days, my boy has grown up, and there’s no little ones around, so if I decorate, I just make a gesture. I might fill a little wooden bowl or a favourite glass plate with decorations just near the front door or on the dining table. Or hang a couple of favourites on a photo hook for the few weeks. I’ve found that even one decoration out of the box puts a smile on my face as I come home and makes it all worth the climbing and unwrappiing.
    Storage is in a variety of different tins and boxes, only the precious ones are wrapped, and all store safely in a top cupboard. The tins, sometimes a few, sometimes alot, even with most of the ornaments still inside, make a lovely part of the decoration on the sideboard. And I tend to remember which box has which sort of decoration – wooden in the green eta tin, fabric in the quality streets tin, glass and european ones in the shoe boxes. This year, i think I’ll take photos as well. Thanks pkilmain for that tip! For a few years I didn’t decorate at all, but I’ve found that making the effort to have something simple is worth it, even if it’s now just for me.
    Thanks Erin and posters for a great site! I’ve been reading for ages, and this is my first post.

  • #172075
    Avatar of henave
    henave
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    I had the same problem complicated by each ornament having its own little box. After a frustrating year trying to match up boxes and ornaments, I threw out all the little boxes, winnowed the collection down to my real favorites and put them with no tissue or wrapping into one of those premade plastic ornament boxes w/ built in dividers you can buy at the holiday. Have not lost an ornament yet, including fragile ones. Mine just sit in a cupboard until the next Christmas, so they are not jostled or handled at all until holiday time.

  • #172086
    Avatar of Beligilr
    Beligilr
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    My husband doesn’t like to decorate (a forced and un-fun event during his childhood) but he likes the effects. Outside the front door has a real wreath and I put fresh cut greens gathered from my yard in flower barrels that flank the doors. Inside I put up a small 1” artificial tree with just a few decorations and lights. Other decorations are displayed depending on my mood and what’s going on.
    One year we went to Hawaii for Christmas and New Years; I only put up a wreath outside. We realized we like the holidays at home because we missed our family so much. The following year I decorated the whole house. Last year my dog got sick after Thanksgiving and died just a few days before Christmas. Only the wreath, tree and a picture of her were displayed. This year, I’m feeling extra festive.

  • #172169
    Avatar of djk
    djk
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    re: storing fragile ornaments. Queen Martha to the rescue! http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/25-closet-storage-and-office-organizers#slide_12

  • #172171
    Avatar of Sky
    Sky
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    djk….thanks for the Martha link. I love the egg carton for small things.

  • #172174
    Avatar of djk
    djk
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    you’re welcome! I use egg cartons in wooden lidded boxes to store rings and earrings but never thought of this use for them!

  • #172178
    Avatar of pkilmain
    pkilmain
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    Hmmm, we’ve used egg cartons for glass/small ornaments forever. My senior mind spaced that one out til someone else mentioned it…..

  • #172849
    Avatar of barnswallow
    barnswallow
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    I saved a few of the plastic containers that apples from Costco come in (here’s a picture I found, altough they’re using it for gardening: http://lh5.ggpht.com/_cAlBg-P_Ws4/Se39op8x2XI/AAAAAAAAABQ/4n2vMkkZwwQ/Costcocontainer.jpg ). Most of my fragile ornaments fit in there and it is fairly sturdy. If you want more cushioning you could probably hot glue some bubble wrap or foam to the inside of each compartment. Even if you don’t shop at Costco, you may know someone who does who can give you a container instead of throwing it out. Good luck!

  • #172860
    Avatar of STLMom
    STLMom
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    There’s lots of great ideas for packing your ornaments here. I say, choose the one that seems simplest to you. Start with your favorite ornaments. If not all of them fit in the box, give away the rest.
    That said, I spent a lot of time after last Christmas trying to make all my decorations fit back into the four boxes they came out of. Finally, I just threw the rest in a fifth box and decided that it was worth it not to play Tetris one more time with my decorations!

  • #172869
    Avatar of luxcat
    luxcat
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    if you have access to the Container Store they have wonderful ornament boxes that usually go on sale. I came from a kind of bah-humbug family so I don’t have a ton of ornaments, but I always notice these when I get the Container Store catalog and they look very sensible for someone with a delicate collection

  • #172876
    Avatar of detroy
    detroy
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    I found some nice ornament boxes at Target a few years ago. They are translucent plastic (Sterlite brand maybe?) with red lids, and cardboard dividers and sheets inside. If you set up the dividers you can stack ornaments 3 deep, but they are very easy to customize for larger ornaments if needed. I bought two and culled my “collection” down to fit into these boxes. I also fit the garland and skirt into them. Now it’s very easy to get them out, decorate, un-decorate and put away. It was one of the best purchases I ever made.

  • #172882
    Avatar of trillie
    trillie
    Member

    Christmas: Sentiment vs. Clutter

    I also don’t have a lot of Christmas decoration. There are a few fun ornaments and fairy lights, they’re all loosely wrapped in paper napkins and it all fits into a medium-sized Ikea box. One year, I had exceptionally pretty christmassy paper napkins and decided to wrap the ornaments in those instead of the old red ones, and it really makes me more happy to open the box every year. So with all these great ideas on storage here, I would like to emphasize: Definitely pick a solution that makes you happy to open the boxes AND to store it all again when Christmas is over – whether it’s the prettiest solution, or the cheapest one, or the easiest one, or the most ingenious one. :o)

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