Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Organizing Christmas

I'm always looking for better ways to be organized and efficient, and I think I've hit the jackpot in organizing my Christmas decorations!!  We store all of our Christmas decorations in plastic totes, and they sit on shelves in our garage.  To give you an idea of how many decorations we have, I'll confess that it takes about twenty plastic totes to store it all!  I have small collections of nativity sets and churches as well as decorations for practically every room in the house.  (I also store much of what we have in its original boxes, so that takes up a bit more space--but it also keeps things packaged safely so that when the time comes for us to move, we don't lose anything due to breakage.) We LOVE Christmas and obviously go all out with our decorating.  It's certainly not Southern Living-worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but we do love spreading holiday cheer all over our home during Christmas!!

With that many decorations, it easy to see how the process of decorating and undecorating could be pretty overwhelming and stressful--especially when you are a recovering perfectionist to boot!  Last year I decided to get really organized with storing my decorations in order to make the process easier and more enjoyable (after all, who wants to be stressed out over decorating for Christmas?).  Here's what I used:
  • plastic totes (Use the normal sized ones and not the extra super large--I learned that lesson the hard way.  The extra super large ones are impossible to carry once filled!!)
  • clear packing tape
  • index cards
  • paper and pen/marker
I began packing up the totes in a room by room or area by area manner, rather than willy-nilly pack-it-however-it-will-fit-in-the-tote, as I had done in years past.  As I packed a tote, I also noted on an index card what all was going into that tote.  Once the tote was packed and everything noted on the card, I labeled the tote and the card.  I used "C-A", "C-B", "C-C", "C-D" etc.--the "C" designating it as Christmas (because this is also how I store other decorations, paper goods, etc, that I don't have room for in the house and therefore must be stored in the garage, and I don't want to get the different totes mixed up), and then the A, B, C just as my method of labeling.  You could also use numbers if you'd rather (I use numbers instead of letters for the boxes of income tax records and other financial records that I have to keep stored.)  In the top right-hand corner of the index card, I would write "C-A", and then on two pieces of paper, I would write "C-A".  The two pieces of paper then would be taped to two sides of the totes--on one end and on one side, so that no matter which way the tote sat on the shelf, I would be able to see the label.  Here's what the finished product looks like:

Tote with labels on side and end, and index card labeled in same manner with contents noted on it.

Close-up of index card

Finished produce on shelves in garage (you can also see the brown u-haul storage box with the "1" on it--that is box #1 containing financial files...which also has an index card in my file that notes exactly what's in there!)  You will notice that the boxes are not placed on the shelves in alphabetical order.  My sweet husband is the lucky one who gets to haul everything to the garage and get it put on the shelves.  I don't stand there demanding that they go in alphabetical order--but you can if you want!  :o)

Once you are finished with the process, you will need a place to keep all of the index cards.  I keep mine in a plain file box along with the index cards for the boxes of financial records I have stored and for the other totes of "stuff" that I have stored.  That way they are all in one place and easy to find.

The process is a bit time-consuming to set up, but it's oh-so-worth-it in the end.  When I was decorating right after Thanksgiving, it was so easy to get out one tote at a time and know exactly what was in it and where I wanted it to go.  For instance, I wanted to start out with the mantel and living room area.  So I pulled out my index cards and flipped through them until I found which totes had those particular decorations.  And since I packed things up last year in order by where those particular decorations go, I was able to bring in one tote that held everything for the mantel.  That was so much better than having to bring in 12 different totes all at once and having to search through them to find what I needed.  It simplified the decorating process by making it less stressful, less messy, and much more efficient.

The putting away process has been much easier this year as well.  I haven't had to guess at what goes in which tote.  I've just pulled out my cards, started with one tote, found everything that belonged in it, packed it up, and then moved on to the next tote.

If you are needing some organization help for your Christmas decorations, I hope you find this beneficial!  And if it's clear as mud and you need some clarification, just leave me a comment and I'll do my best to make it more clear!!


MANDIE said...

Oh my! You are so inspiring. How about you come organize me and I will explain the dossier to you??? Ha Ha. I can only dream to be that organized. I will work on it though. Enjoyed talking to you today, sweet friend. Love ya.

Jolee Burger said...

Karen, you inspire me. I can see how that would be a great system, especially if you have a good amount of decorations. Do you think it would be easy to purchase things through the years and add them into the system? I bet it is doable depending on the size. I always go bonkers after Christmas, and I get a lot of tins, craft projects and other items that differ from year to year - maybe their own separate bin??
Thanks for posting!