Organizing and storing your Fourth of July decorations

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

12 Comments for “Organizing and storing your Fourth of July decorations”

  1. posted by Sinea on

    I had no idea that some dry cleaners will clean US Flags during summer months. We have a flag that needs cleaning. I will be contacting my dry cleaner to find out if they have that offer. Thanks so much for the tip!

  2. posted by Mackenzie on

    I read this headline and thought “what the heck’s a 4th of July decoration?” A flag is the only thing I can think of, if you have a flag pole.

  3. posted by Mike on

    A while back Unclutterer ran an item about keeping things in translucent plastic totes in garages/storage. We tried this plan for all our holiday decorations and put them into the one garage cabinet that’s usually blocked by a parked vehicle, and it worked great! It’s a very obvious place, we never forget where it is, it’s easy enough to park in the driveway during the few times a year we need to get into that cabinet, and it makes use of a fixture that might otherwise go to waste.

    Better yet, during the year, if we come across any holiday decorations that weren’t put away for whatever reason or we are given more or we strike a deal at a garage sale or something, we know exactly where to put it away and it doesn’t sit around gathering dust or getting broken.

    Open the doors to the cabinet and you can easily spot Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, Independence Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and kids’ birthday gear, all clean and in good repair and ready to pull out and use. In terms of eliminating what can become a very frustrating clutter source (and always was for my family until we tried this), I give this organizational method an A-plus.

  4. posted by Rindy Sherman on

    Excellent suggestions, with one to add. Should you see something for sale after a holiday, reduced to a crazy low price, consider if you have the room, if it matches or will blend with other things you already have for that holiday and if the answer is yes, consider purchasing it.

    I hit the party store and purchase napkins and plates for a holiday, after the holiday. I have a small cabinet, over the fridge where I store these items. It makes for a lovely table or picnic when the day comes around. This may not work for everyone, but if you can corral and organize items by holiday, its a chance to save some time and cash.

  5. posted by infmom on

    Good heavens, who goes that overboard with special decorations for the 4th of July?

    We have a flag on a wooden pole, and we put it outside (flagpole holder attached to the front of the house) for national holidays like Flag Day, the 4th, Labor Day, etc. When not in use it’s rolled up neatly and stored along with the umbrellas and my canes, tucked away in a corner of the living room.

  6. posted by Erin Doland on

    @infmom — I grew up on a street that has a major 4th of July parade each year. Almost everyone on the street decorates more for Independence Day than for Christmas. It could be more of a small-town tradition than a major city tradition?

  7. posted by DebLee on

    @Mackenzie: There are some decorations that can be used outdoors, like buntings, wreaths, and swags. I’ve also noticed a number of handmade crafts on Pinterest (e.g., pinwheels, napkin rings, windsocks, centerpieces).

  8. posted by Jude2004 on

    I have one Fourth of July item–the flag that covered my father’s coffin at his funeral (he was a WWII vet). Once I acquired a flagpole sufficiently high to display it, I was set. I fold it into a tri-corner and store it in the same place so I can find it on the four or five occasions when I display it. A flagpole set in concrete that you use only a few times a year might be classified as a Unitasker.

  9. posted by Karen on

    The flag is not just for July 4th! We fly our flag 365 days a year, and dispose of it properly when it gets ragged or dirty.

  10. posted by Amanda on

    I can’t imagine having so many 4th of July decorations that I had to think about how to store them. But I guess to each her own!

  11. posted by Sam on

    To me anything you use once a year for decorative purpose qualify as clutter.
    Just don’t have them in your house and you won’t worry about storage for them.
    Would it be so terrible to let the 4th of July go by without decking your house in red and blue?

  12. posted by Mackenzie on

    I’m with Sam. I don’t have holiday decorations, period. No flags, no plastic pumpkins, no evergreen tree (real or fake), no little wind-up things that play a tune, no stuffed bunnies.

    The exceptions are decorated eggs and crocheted ornaments, which are waiting for someone to buy them from my online shop. The decorated eggs wait in a display case (they’re the Ukrainian style ones).

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