Photo: If you have a label maker, the holidays are a great time to use it for organization. Credit: Shutterstock
29. Use Coffee Cans to Wrap and Store Lights
We have already given a few options for storing your Christmas lights, but here is yet another one that is a good alternative to buying a light spool. If you drink coffee, make sure you save the cans and the lids. You could wrap the cord around the outside of the can, and once you get to the end, you can put the plugs inside of the can, and hold it in place with the plastic lid.
This should be absolutely free if you already drink coffee. It’s also great because if you save these up throughout the course of the year, you will have several of these ready to store multiple lights. Then, you can use a Sharpie to label each can so that you know exactly where the lights go in your home.
If you only have a closet or a small space to store your holiday items, it might be a good idea to put everything on a garment rack. It would make sense, then, to get a clear plastic garment bag to hold your wrapping paper rolls. This is useful because you can get everything in one place. Since it’s see-through, you will be able to identify the patterns right away.
If you search for garment bags online, there are even some special bags that come with side zipper pockets. These are specially made for dancers beauty pageant participants who have a lot of accessories to go with their costumes. But they would also be amazing for Christmas decorations, because it gives you a place to add extra odds and ends like ribbons, tape, and bows.
Some people love to collect gift bags, especially when the holiday season is over. Bags are easy to reuse again and again, since they do not get ripped like wrapping paper. The only trouble is figuring out how to organize all of them by color and occasion. One great way to store these is with magazine racks.
You should be able to find upright magazine racks online, or at stores like Ikea and Walmart. This method of organization is best for someone who has any empty shelf inside of their holiday closet, or an entire craft and wrapping room in their house. Admittedly, it may take up more space than some of your other options.
If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you are probably getting tons of boxes delivered to your door in the month of December. And on Christmas morning, it’s very likely that you and your family members will open shoe boxes and other cardboard containers. Normally, people will put these in the recycle bin, but you don’t have to.
Instead of getting rid of the boxes, try to reuse as many as you can. Shoe boxes can be used to separate like-ornaments together inside of a larger storage bin. For example, maybe you would have a shoe box labeled “Star Wars Ornaments” and another labeled “Hallmark Keepsake”. This way, when you go to look for specific styles next year, you don’t have to unwrap every single ornament to find the one you need.
25. Use a Portable Clothing Rack to Hang Your Items
If you are planning to make a closet dedicated to your holiday decorations, you might want to consider using a garment rack. This way, you can hang everything on the bar, and it creates multiple levels if there is a bottom rack. One of the best parts about this is that you can see everything clearly in front of you instead of digging through boxes.
Word to the wise: If you want to do this, make sure you buy a heavy-duty garment rack. Those cheap $10 metal racks you see in Walmart are not going to be strong enough to hold heavy items. Whether it takes one day or one week, those will eventually buckle, and all of your belongings will be on the floor. While it may seem like a lot of money, it’s actually worth investing in something high quality that will last a lifetime.
Okay, this next item is not exactly a DIY item. It’s a $16 over-the-door organizational system. We are recommending this item, because it gives you a massive amount of storage space that can be hung over your closet door. Then, you can close the closet and have it hidden away from the rest of your home. Best of all, it has both a front and a back. This is perfect for anyone who lives in an apartment, and you don’t have an abundance of attic space.
Coupled with storage that goes under the bed, this is a great way to put everything away so that you can continue to store it year after year. Even if you don’t have a lot of Christmas items, the extra space could also be used for other holiday items like birthday paper, and so much more.
If you have a lot of things to pack that are made of fabric like Christmas sweaters, throw pillows, table cloths, and stockings, you already know that they can be very bulky. You can always use vacuum sealing bags to make them more compact. It’s really affordable to buy a starter kit online, and you can reuse those bags over and over again.
Once you own the vacuum bag kit, you can reuse this for traveling. It seriously comes in handy if you are going on a long trip, but you only want to bring a small carry-on bag. They can also be useful for seasonal bedding or clothing that needs to be put away once the weather changes.
22. Use a Plastic Trash Can To Store Your Wrapping Paper Rolls
If you have a large collection of wrapping paper, you can always buy a special storage container. But if you want to save money by using the things you have on-hand, consider getting a clean waste basket instead. This serves the same purpose of keeping your wrapping paper rolls standing upright in a closet.
This is great if you have a gift closet, or an area of your home that is devoted to wrapping paper. The only downside is that you don’t have the benefit of having extra storage space added like you do in an upright plastic container. If you find that you don’t have enough space for a basket, you might want to consider finding a wrapping paper container that fits under the bed, instead.
21. Use Curtain Rings and Hooks to Hang Your Wrapping Paper
Earlier in this list, we mentioned buying a specially made over-the-door organizational system. If you don’t want to spend the $16 to buy one, a slightly cheaper alternative would be to use a row of over-the-door hooks. You may already have one around your house, but if not, it’s $10 for a set of 4 online, or you can try to find something similar at Dollar Tree. Then, you can attach curtain rings to each wrapping paper roll, and have them hanging on each individual hook. Again, you can buy those online, or find some at your local Dollar Tree.
Some people also install curtain rods on the back of their doors so that they can hang multiple types of things in their wrapping closet. No matter what you decide to do, the whole premise behind this idea is to install something on the back of your closet door so that you permanently have extra storage space.
20. Get Yourself Motivated Before Organizing Holiday Decor
Sometimes, it can be difficult to feel excited about organizing your holiday decorations. This is especially true in 2021 at the time that this article was written. Some of you out there might actually want to keep your decorations up longer, because it makes me feel cheerful. However, it has to end eventually. So if you want to get yourself motivated before you organize your holiday decor, try to cheer yourself up. Maybe drink a cup of coffee or energy drink, listen to Happy music, dance around the living room, or get yourself pumped up in some other way.
If you’re putting your decor away in January, you might still be in the Christmas spirit. So go ahead and put on a movie that will play in the background. Instead of holding on to the holiday spirit forever, remind yourself that it’s okay to let go. You have the rest of the year to look forward to. The sooner you take down your Christmas decor, the earlier you can put up Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, or Easter decorations. Remember that it’s fine to celebrate all of the holidays no matter what time of year it may be.
19. Transform a Dollar Tree Dish Rack to Hold Wrapping Paper Rolls
Dollar Tree sells a lot of different metal organization pieces for the kitchen that can be transformed into customized racks for your holiday decor. The white metal dish rack from the kitchen aisle of Dollar Tree comes in two pieces. You can turn them around so that they essentially create a basket.
Dollar Tree also sells a pack of hanging hooks and brackets that are normally meant for hanging pictures on the wall. You can use these hooks just to suspend half of the dish rack on to your wall. Since there is a lip rising above the rest of the rack, this is perfect for placing rolls of wrapping paper on top and keeping everything in place.
Sometimes, the best tip that you can follow is to organize your decorations in an efficient way. A lot of people will take one room at a time. However this is not actually the most efficient way of putting your decorations in storage. If you have a large kitchen table or island, clear it off and get it ready to put all of your decorations on there. Walk through the house and find everything that is considered a holiday decoration. Carry it to your designated spot so that it is all in one place.
Once you have your decorations all in one place, it becomes very easy to organize them properly. It’s much better to organize your items together with like-items. For example, keeping all of your lights together in one place, and your wreaths in one place. These could exist in multiple rooms of the house, so it doesn’t make sense to go room-by-room. Once you have everything in place, it becomes much easier to group things together and put them away quickly.
Holiday decorations are usually up for at least one month. This means that underneath your decorations, you’re most likely going to find dust. Instead of waiting until after you’re done putting your decorations away, clean up your surfaces as soon as you carry your items to the designated Christmas decoration pile that we mentioned earlier. The idea to stop and clean every time you pick up your decor might seem tedious to some of you, but it’s actually the quickest way to accomplish your entire project.
Have your vacuum on hand fully charged and ready to go whenever you find glitter or pine needles falling on the floor. Prep the washing machine so that you can wash anything made of fabric like a tree skirt or tablecloths. And have your paper towels and disinfectant spray standing by so that you can wipe down surfaces right away. This way, the entire project ends when the items are put in boxes and brought to the garage or attic. If you do it the opposite way, you’ll put your items away and feel a sense of accomplishment, only to remember that you still need to go vacuum and wipe down the entire house.
16. Create Russian Doll Style Cardboard Tubes For Your Lights
A YouTuber who goes by the name of Glue Guns & Roses suggested this next great idea. She took pieces of cardboard and rolled them up into a cylinder. Then, she created gradually smaller cylinder tubes. Then, she wrapped her lights around the tubes and used tape to hold them down. Once the tubes were all assembled, all she needed to do was stack them inside of one another, like a stack of Russian dolls.
If you would rather buy something from a store, you can do this same trick by using cardboard poster tubes from your local office supply store. However, if you received a lot of deliveries from Amazon this year, it’s likely that you will already have the materials lying around your house for free. This is a great way to recycle, and create something useful out of your trash.
15. Use a Dollar Tree Paper Towel Holder to Store Wreaths
Dollar Tree sells a metal paper towel holder that usually sits on your countertop. These are popular if you live in an apartment and can’t install a paper towel roll under the counter. But these metal objects are good for so much more! All you need to do is bend the metal so that it stays straight on one end, and voila- you have a DIY wreath rack for just $1.
Next, hang your metal piece on the wall using command hooks. Once it is securely in place, you can slide on several wreaths on one hook. This is also great for garland and anything else that you may have around the house during Christmas time. On the YouTube channel Glue Guns and Roses, she shows how she uses this hack, because she puts a wreath on every window of her townhouse. In her case, she truly needed an entire space on her closet wall dedicated to wreaths.
14. Use a Wet Paper Towel or Lint Roller to Remove Glitter
Sometimes, glitter is so sticky that you might not be able to remove it from your surfaces even after vacuuming or trying to sweep up. It’s important not to let this go, because glitter can get in the eyes and mouth of your children or pets. A great cleaning hack is to use a wet paper towel to wipe out the glitter. You could use all purpose spray, but you don’t need any particular cleaner to accomplish this. Simply using water on the paper towel is enough for the glitter to stick to it so that you can lift it up easily.
If you are experiencing litter sticking to fabric, this might be a different story. If you don’t want the material to get wet, use a large piece of tape or a lint roller, instead. And if there is ever a scenario where you have a lot of glitter to deal with, make sure you wear protective eyewear before shaking out a rug or anything outside. You don’t want anything stuck in your eyeball!
A very common problem is that glitter falls off your decor items and sticks to absolutely everything. If you have a plastic tote, it’s very likely that the bottom has a lining of glitter. Some people might not mind having a lot of extra glitter and their life. But in reality, it’s a huge hassle to clean up oh, and it might stick to your other objects that were in the same storage box. A very simple way to stop this from happening is to put anything glittery inside of a ziplock bag before you put it away. This way, the glitter will all stay inside of the plastic bag even if it sheds. You can simply pour that excess glitter into a garbage can instead of vacuuming or sweeping it up later.
This past year, I also used one quart and gallon Ziplock bags to keep similar ornaments together. For example, Target came out with a huge line of felt ornaments. These don’t need to be wrapped to the same way that glass ornament does. So I was able to keep all of the felt ornaments together in a ziplock bag. This makes it easy to find all the similar ornaments at once instead of digging through a box to find all of them.
12. Write Dates on the Back of Your Children’s Ornaments
One of the greatest parts of being a parent during the holidays is experiencing the magic of Christmas with your children. When they go to school, it’s likely that they are making homemade ornaments to bring back for you. Obviously, we want these on our trees so that we can look at what children have accomplished. However, sometimes it’s easy to forget what year they made it, or what grade it was in. This is why it’s always a good idea to use a Sharpie to write the date and the name of your child on the back of the ornament.
If you decide to retire your Christmas ornaments, you can always take them and place them inside of a scrapbook along with other mementos from that year of school. Other parents want to quietly throw away an ornament that is falling apart, especially if it was only made of popsicle sticks and construction paper. As long as the date is written on there, you can make the decision based on how much time has passed. If it has been several years since the child made the ornament, it’s not likely that they will remember or miss it.
11. Consider Purchasing a Tree That’s Easier to Assemble
Most families purchase an artificial Christmas tree once, and then hold on to it for years. However, if you find that you lack the motivation to put your tree up or put it away, it could be because your tree is too difficult to assemble. During a sale like Black Friday or after-Christmas clearance, take a look at your tree options, and consider buying something easier for next year. For example, my parents have a Christmas tree where it’s necessary to place every single branch onto a metal pole. Every branch was color coded depending on its length. Over the years, the color coding rubbed off, so it took hours to figure out how to put the tree together. Once it was assembled, everyone was too exhausted to do anything else. So it was always a 2-day process.
As you can imagine, my parent’s tree was a nightmare to put up and take down. In 2020, I felt that life was stressful enough already without worrying about the tree. So I took advantage of the Black Friday sales and spent $100 on a brand new tree at Michaels Crafts. (If I had waited until after Christmas, this same tree was only $40.) This new tree only took 10 minutes to assemble. Since it was pre-lit, there was no need to string lights. And since it was a “skinny” tree, it was easier to hang fewer ornaments to get the job done. When it was time to put it away, everything fit into just one box, and the whole process took about an hour. It was so easy compared to previous years, I’m never going back.
10. Go to Dollar General For the Clearance Tree Tote To Make it Easy to Carry
A lot of people like to save the original cardboard box that an artificial tree came in, and reuse it every year. However, this causes issues in a few different ways. As the years go on, boxes fall apart. They are also a lot more clunky, and take two people to bring them up into the attic and carry them downstairs or out of the garage. An easier solution to the problem is to buy a tree tote bag.
It’s possible to buy a tree tote bag online at any time of year. But if you’re lucky, you can find them at Dollar General. Their tree bags go on clearance every year, and are reduced from $8 to just 25 cents. If you buy them on clearance, it’s very easy for you to pick up enough tree totes for all of the trees you may have in the attic. Once they are packed away in these totes, it becomes a lot easier to carry them out to your garage or attic on your own. It also saves space compared to keeping them in boxes.
9. Large Storage Bags From Dollar Tree Help Organize Decor
Many of you out there will have probably heard of these large storage bags, because they are typically used when traveling. A lot of the brands end up on the “as seen on TV” aisle of department stores. But did you know that they are sold at Dollar Tree? Some of these bags even come with handles, which makes it even easier to pick him up and move them as needed. These extra large bags can be great for storing smaller items like ornaments and bits of decor. With plastic bags, it makes it easy to divide non-breakable ornaments in different teams or colors, so they are subdivided into the same tote. Since these bags have handles, they can also be hung on a command hook in the closet, if you’re working with a very small storage space in an apartment.
On the YouTube channel Glue Guns and Roses, she shows how she uses one of these bags to store her Chirstmas themed pillow cases. Around the holiday season, she takes off her normal pillow cases and stores them in one of these bags. Then, they go into a trunk in her living room that she doubles as a coffee table and storage. This is a great example of how you can re-think how to cleverly hide your decor in the room where it’s meant to be used, rather than assuming that everything must go into the attic.
8. Every Year, Consider if Any Ornaments You Need to Get Rid Of
Christmas is a very sentimental time for most people, so the suggestion that you should throw away some of your ornaments could be a shock to some of you. However, you have to admit that almost everyone has those ornaments that are so old and raggedy that they stay in the box for years without ever hanging on the tree anymore. If you forgot something existed in the first place, will you really ever miss it? And is that old ornament serving you in any way? If the answer is “no”, it might be better to let it go, and make room for something new.
Some people work with “the 3 year rule”. If you haven’t used that ornament in 3 years, you should consider throwing it away, or donating it. If you feel emotionally attached to family ornaments that you don’t want to use, consider taking photos and texting them to your siblings. They will likely have the same fond memories that you do, and might be willing to use those decorations in their own home. Believe it or not, you can also sell ornaments on eBay. This works especially well if you have Hallmark ornaments, or any characters that may be collectable. By selling your unwanted ornaments, you might make enough money to buy something else you really want.
Some people like to go all-out for Christmas and have multiple trees in their house. This brings a lot of cheer to the home no matter what room you happen to be in. Once you go down the path of multiple trees in your life, you’ll inevitably end up with several different themed ornaments. One of my favorite Christmas home tours to watch is by Laura from the Garden Answer YouTube channel. She has several small “skinny” trees in every room of the house with themes like snowmen, The Nutcracker, forest animals, and more.
Personally, I have several themes too. My largest collections are nautical, food, and travel. Just this past year, I ran into the issue of attempting to put up a “food” themed tree in the kitchen, only to realize that I couldn’t find enough ornaments. It turns out that a lot of my themed ornaments were in a pink tote that was labeled incorrection, but I didn’t find them until January. In order to solve this issue, I really need to take all of my ornaments and divide them up by theme, label them, and store them so it’s easy to find next year.
If you live in a small apartment, you might not have enough space to keep a lot of decorations in the first place. I have personally been to apartments where the only closet in the entire place was so small, you didn’t even have enough space for one plastic tote. That’s why it might be a good idea for you to take a small laundry basket from somewhere like Walmart. Use the large plastic storage bags that I mentioned in an earlier bullet point, and use those two separate the different products in your decoration basket. Since this laundry basket is so much smaller than a tote, it should be possible for you to keep it in your closet, ideally on a shelf so that it’s kept off the floor.
Even if you do have the extra storage for holiday decor, you still might want to consider using them anyway. I use laundry baskets for every single organizational project I have ever done. They also come in handy when you’re trying to move. Every time I help someone move, I use laundry baskets, because they easily stack inside one another and are actually useful. Cardboard boxes need to be recycled, and totes take up a massive amount of space.
A great way to stop yourself from going overboard with Christmas decorations is to limit the number of totes you have in your storage area. For some people, this is non-negotiable. If you only have a closet or attic in your apartment or condo, you really can’t continue to buy more tote boxes year after year. However, for homeowners, limited space doesn’t stop some people from expanding their collection wherever they can. If you don’t limit yourself, those boxes end up in the garage, attic, basement, and the outdoor shed. It can be ridiculous. (Yes, I know several people like this.)
Instead of giving yourself carte blanche to have as many Christmas items as your heart desires, give yourself a limit with the number of totes. It might also be easier to identify the obvious Christmas items if you buy red and green totes from Walmart or Target. Go through all of your holiday decoration boxes and throw away or donate anything that you no longer use. Is extra totes could either be used to store non-holiday items, or you could donate it to your local thrift store. Many thrift stores will appreciate having this free tote, since they need to move and store items on a regular basis.
If you’re a parent, you might already be familiar with those white plastic child-safe locks that help keep drawers and cabinets shut. While they are useful for their original purpose, you may have tossed them in the junk drawer once your kids were older. Or, you can easily buy them at your local dollar store. These cabinet locks can be reused as a tape holder. Since the lock is secure, it won’t be likely to pop out. Once the tape is all secure on the cabinet lock, you can place this in your junk drawer and never have to go searching for the tape again.
On the YouTube channel Gliue Guns and Roses, she shows us how she uses safety hooks from the Dollar Tree for all kinds of organization hacks. In her holiday closet, she installed a command hook on her wall and hung the cabinet lock on it with all of her tape. She also uses one in her bedroom closet for her scarf collection. The possibilities are endless. Try to think outside of the box on how you can use a cabinet hook to “hack” some of your other organizational projects.
If you collect rolls of fabric holiday ribbon, you might already know how difficult it is to figure out where to put this. When you put them in a container, it’s hard to find them, because they get burried underneath everything else. Personally, I can relate to the issue of forgetting that I had beautiful fabric ribbon until it’s too late. The solution is to create a dowel rod for the ribbon. Every craft store sells wooden dowel rods. You can also find these at Walmart, and even Dollar Tree. Use some thick tape on one end of the rod, and slide the ribbons on.
Alternately, you can use a broom handle from Dollar Tree if you have rolls of ribbon that are very wide. Some people choose to suspend the roll onto command hooks, which can be perfect if you are utilizing vertical closet space. This makes it possible for you to see all of your ribbon collection at once. You can roll the pieces and cut it with scissors without ever removing it from the rod. In the photo above, you can see that they kept their ribbon together with the wrapping paper.
One of the most annoying things about finding your Christmas decorations is the fact that it’s so difficult to see things when they are stacked on top of one another. It’s also impossible to see all of your items when they’re inside of a colored tote. Sure, you might be smart enough to create a label on the outside of the box. However, most people will use tissue paper or old newspaper to wrap up their ornaments inside of the container. So it might be necessary for you to unwrap every single ornament before you find what you’re looking for.
An alternate solution to this would be to purchase clear plastic storage container boxes. These are available in the craft section of Walmart, and they should also be available at Dollar Tree. If you use these, you can organize ornaments together by similarities. If they are non-breakable, you can get away with keeping them in the box without wrapping them at all. Or, if you do still need an extra bit of protection, at least you know that you can grab the box that has the label of the ornament you were looking for instead of digging through the entire tote.
1. Use a Dollar Tree Cabinet Shelf For Organization
At Dollar Tree, they sell white metal shelves that are used for creating a new shelf inside of your kitchen cabinets. Normally, this is great for anyone who is renting an apartment, and they can’t renovate the space. But this can easily be re-used for a holiday decor shelving unit.
All you need to do is buy the shelf, and bend the legs at an v-shaped angle. Make sure that the angle is facing towards the wall, because you don’t want anything to roll onto the floor. Use hooks to secure this on the wall. Now, it’s possible to use this for several rolls of wrapping paper, bags, shirt boxes, and so much more. If you want to see the full tutorial, click here.