When you're unpacking boxes filled with Christmas gifts, don't throw out the boxes. Instead, disassemble them and cut them into squares or rectangles to wrap your tree lights and outdoor lights. Cut slits on the ends, then slide the cords into them. Wrap the string of lights around the panel to prevent a tangled mess. If you don't have any extra boxes or cardboard, look in your kitchen for something that can be upcycled. Use an old box, like a coffee can or an oatmeal container, as a spool. This will keep the cords sorted and prevent tangling when you take them out again next year--and save you a lot of headaches.
Avoid piling ornaments in a box to put in the basement or attic until next year. In addition to making a jumbled mess, it could put your heirloom decorations in danger of damage. To prevent breakage, get special ornament storage containers with a separate compartment for each piece. You can also make containers yourself--egg cartons are made for transporting breakables, and the cells are the perfect size for many ornaments. Stack several egg cartons inside a bigger box for storage. For flat ornaments, generously wrap them in tissue paper or bubble wrap and place them in a shoebox to stack in a bigger box along with the egg cartons. Shoeboxes and tissue can also be used to store oddly shaped ornaments.
Garland and Wreaths
Just like your lights, you don't want your garland to be tangled when you get it out next year. Garland isn't quite as delicate as string lights, so you can get away with coiling it between your hand and elbow. Secure the circle with three or four twist ties. Use an old folding garment bag to store the garland. Put the garland on one half and use the other half for a wreath. Using the garment bag allows you to hang the items, which keeps them from getting crushed by other decorations. Garment bags can also be used to store other fabric decor like collegiate flags and stockings, or even wrapping paper.
For Next Year
When you're storing holiday decorations, always keep next year in mind. How well you store things now, will determine how frustrated you will be when you take your decor out of storage.