For years I have dealt with the anxiety of unpacking and re-packing my collection of Christmas tree ornaments. I don't know if it's simple laziness, or the fear that something might break, but it's been a constant source of stress. Maybe stress isn't the best word, it's more like DREAD! Probably the worst thing about Christmas.....the setting up is a bit exciting, but the post New Year's Day cleanup, well it's downright depressing. I could do an entire post on glitter removal, it's daunting to face a brand new year and then add in the post-celebratory cleanup of decor! HATE.
I have tried every method possible to store ornaments. For a long time I tried to keep them in the original packaging, stored in cardboard boxes or Rubbermaid bins. Sometimes that is the best option if the packaging is sturdy enough to protect the fragility of the ornaments. Realistically though, after a few moves or summers in a hot attic, those boxes with cello windows on the front, or round plastic containers start failing and one can end up with a hot mess.
For many years I used the above method. At the time, I was married to a rat that didn't believe in spending money on Christmas decorations, and I had very little decor to worry about....what he did 'let' me buy was crap anyway. Clearly, he had to go! The first thing I did when I got rid of that scrooge and started controlling my own cash flow was to invest in every expensive ornament my heart desired. My house and trees were BEAUTIFUL, it was the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER! Until, I had to pack that stuff up. I had paid full price for about 75 Pottery Barn glass ornaments that year.........it was a post divorce meltdown, I wouldn't spend that much now...........but I did get some good loot and one must never question the healing powers of old-fashioned retail therapy. But sadly, every year after I would find myself worrying that those pricey ornaments were in a million bits in the attic. Who wants to worry about their Christmas ornaments in May? But, that's what I was doing.
Two years ago I came up with a pretty decent solution that has worked well so far. I had custom cabinets installed in my garage to hold all of my crap, holiday and otherwise. They look beautiful and eliminated the hassle of begging whichever victim I was dating at the time to go up in the attic and root around for my holiday treasures. I mean, it's pretty bad if you want to break up with some loser, but can't do it until after all of the ornaments and icicle lights have been retrieved from the attic. The cabinets were worth the investment for several storage reasons, and even better, if on the Fourth of July I happen to panic about my ornaments potentially being a pile of broken glass, it's easy to 'check in' on them and make sure they are doing okay. I know, kind of psychotic.
At first I just used cardboard boxes and stored them in the cabinets, but they didn't look nice and were a bit hard to maneuver. The round packaging from some of the stores for ornaments wasn't fitting in the boxes neatly, I didn't like the wasted space. One day, I found these cool Rubbermaid Ornament Storage containers. They fold down into totally flat, stackable squares, which is nice if your storage space is limited during the holidays. I have simply stacked mine in one of my cabinets and they have held up perfectly for two years......not one break.
Having said that, one must put some effort into the packing. I'm sure there are people that would just throw the ornaments in the box and be done with it, but I can't be friends with people like that. In this scenario, said ornaments could easily break. I would suggest investing in white tissue paper or bubble pack to wrap each ornament individually. Tissue will protect the ornament from scratching, and it's easy to see through the white paper or bubble pack when unpacking which makes it easy to recognize which oranments, without unwrapping the entire thing. The collapsible cardboard grids enable each ornament to have a separate storage space which eliminates the potential for breakage.
These Rubbermaid boxes are NOT heavy duty. I would suggest they be kept indoors, or someplace well protected from bugs, dirt, water, etc. Remember they are made from fabric and cardboard. I think it's bad luck to store things under beds, but if that is not an issue, or there is a storage space limitation, these flat boxes would work well.
After the holidays, as I pack each ornament, I keep a little note card of what ornaments are in each box. I know, it's sounds kind of crazy, but it's been a great solution. The next season, I can easily refer to the card regarding which ornaments are within each storage box. As I unwrap each individual ornament, I neatly fold the tissue paper into a square and put it in the empty square. After writing all of this down, I realize how nutty that sounds, but it makes it easy to find each ornament's 'cubicle' after the holidays. And besides, who really wants to keep buying new tissue paper year after year? I remember my grandma folding up wrapping paper to reuse, there is no shame in that, we are in that recession 'they' say is over now right?
So far so good, nothing broken as of 2010! Ornaments are not only an investment, but family keepsakes, I'm all about keeping them in mint condition if possible.