Holiday Gear and Goodies: Organizing Tips from a Pro

Christmas tree, holiday decorating

Originally published on REALSIMPLE

How and where to store your seasonal items when ‘tisn’t the season. We spoke to an expert to find out the best strategies for putting away all your holiday décor.

The holidays have passed, the stockings are empty, and now all that’s left is… a mess. Everyone wants holiday celebrations with all the trimmings, but what are the best ways to manage your holiday kit and caboodle the rest of the year? From easy-to-mangle ornaments to easy-to-tangle lights, food to flatware, we interviewed professional organizer Sandra Schustack of Clear Your Space East—and think you’ll find her storage tips to be a total blessing. Spoiler alert: Plastics make it possible.


Schustack says she’s a big fan of stackable, clear plastic tubs. You can easily identify what’s inside, and piling them up one on top of the other uses often-underutilized areas, a space-saving solution. For breakable ornaments, store look-alikes together in plastic baggies, she says—but pad them first: “Wrap oddly shaped or delicate ornaments in bubble wrap, tissue paper, or paper towels.”

With those awkward, wiry lights: play ball. “Start by holding the plug end and wrap the strand around your hand a few times to get a ball going,” she explains. “Remove your hand and continue wrapping the lights around into a ball.” Once each set is balled up, drop them into another clear plastic tub. “Lights will be ready to unwrap next holiday season.” Piece of pie.

If you want to take it one step farther, find clear plastic boxes that are tinted in holiday colors, and organize your decorations that way: red for Christmas, orange for Halloween, and so on. And, Schustack adds, “Always label the contents on the front and the side of each bin.” It’s best if you can spot what you’re looking for at a glance, from any angle. These durable plastic tubs and boxes can last from season to season. And if they’re damaged, they can be recycled in most curbside programs.