With Halloween, Diwali, and Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas very much on the horizon, it seems like a great time to talk about seasonal decor and accessories.
Specifically, I’m talking about how to know when enough’s enough, and best practice when it comes to arranging storage for said decor items. These steps can be carried out when you first get out your decor items, when it’s time to put them back into storage, or actually at any point during the year.
So either read and action now, or leave yourself a link in your calendar to come back to this, after reading in full of course!
NOTE: All families and household groups have their own holidays of importance so I’m not going to go into tonnes of detail about a specific one here. Apply the advice to your own situation, etc.
1. Know what you’ve got
First, it’s super important to take the time and space to lay out (after gathering together) all seasonal decor items, grouped by category. This can seem like overkill but laying out all items in one place by category gives you a really accurate idea about overall quantities. Gaps in your inventory will become clear, as will duplicates, so keep your favourite list making app or notebook (I’m loving the Moleskine weekly agenda, where each week spread has an opposite page for list making) close by to collate your thoughts into a shopping / listing for sale session with clear goals.
If you’re only working with one holiday, e.g. Halloween, you may want to subdivide by type of accessories. A recent client with an extensive collection of Halloween decorations sorted them by subcategories such as ‘lighting’, ‘skeletons’, serving bowls, ‘trick or treat’ and so on. Your categories will depend on your collection, on your family preferences, and on the nature of the holiday (whether it involves gifting, special meals, rituals, gatherings, etc).
I always advise my clients to check each part of their home twice for items to be sorted so that they only have to organise once – it’s ok saying ‘of course I don’t have Hanukkah candles in my kitchen drawers’… but of course if a family member has found one and it seemed like a huge task to get the box out of the guest cupboard, that is exactly the sort of place they’ll end up! It’s so frustrating to finish organising your lovely seasonal decor but know ‘there should be another bag somewhere…’ – and you know that about an hour after you finish, it’ll turn up!
2. Be realistic
Yes, we all want to repair broken decorations, cut up cards to make cute labels, and so on. If you truly want to do these things, allocate the time. As in right now, when you have that stack of things needing care in front of you, decide when you’ll deal with them. How much time will it take? An hour? Two? When – Tuesday night at 8? Saturday afternoon?
If your response is ‘but I’m far too busy right now for that’, it’s worth asking yourself when you’ll realistically expect to have time to deal with it. Accepting that repairing your broken Halloween skeleton isn’t going to happen can be freeing in itself – besides, that random collection of bones could really perk up next year’s buffet!
3. Assess your storage space
So where do you want these items to live, ideally? I’d steer clear, if at all possible, of even enclosed outdoor storage or garages as I’ve seen one too many cute textile items (think festive cushion covers, Thanksgiving tablecloths) be brought out smelling musty or with mould patches. And that level of late-stage disappointment is something nobody needs, not least because it creates *more* tasks for your to-do list.
With seasonal item storage, there does need to be an element of realism – if your storage space is quite limited, your the size of your collection might also have to be – the alternative is to either commit to paying for external storage (a slippery slope!) or have these things stacked in storage boxes in the corner of a room.
Once you’ve decided where these things are going to live, measure that space. Twice. Then leave a few centimetres’ wiggle room for your fingers to actually get the containers out, otherwise it’s a hassle and family members will end up dumping stray items next to the box rather than in it.
4. Invest in the right storage solutions
This is one of the few examples where using what you already have isn’t the best solution. Do your research to find boxes that fit your space, can be sealed shut, and can be easily labelled up. Ikea, as usual, offer excellent plastic crates that stack well and are robust. ‘The Really Useful’ box company also offers great options which stack satisfactorily and come in a spectacular array of shape and sizes. Within the big boxes you choose, subcategorise if necessary using labelled shoe boxes or sturdy ziplock bags.
It really pays to spend time and effort finding the right solution here – doing so is what’s going to stop your precious items getting squashed or damp, and it’s going to make preparing for the festive season much less stressful. So dedicate time to get it right, and do so with confidence!
5. Sell or donate seasonally
And what to do with those items you’ve decided not to keep?
Well, trying to sell a Christmas tree in July probably isn’t going to get you many takers. Getting those items you’ve chosen not to keep onto Facebook Marketplace, the class Whatsapp chat, or into the newsletter at your local place of worship, needs to be timed strategically.
If you’re decluttering at the ‘wrong’ time of year for this, it’s ok to keep those unwanted items, labelled and closed up, with the to-action date, course of action, and list of contents, clearly displayed. For example, ‘List for collection on no-buy Barcelona, 20th March. Contains Easter wreath, 16 spring chickens (paper), 7 paper eggs, 1 tablecloth’.
And one final word on selling…. Even though you paid a lot of money for something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody else is going to want to. It can be a really hard one to swallow, but your former treasures are worth only what your buyer is prepared to pay for them.
So there you have it. Five steps to stress-free storage of your seasonal decor.
What’s your current set up? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear how you currently store your festive decor items, and whether you’ll be trying out any of the steps above.