Posts Tagged ‘boxes’

Setting Up Christmas Without Mess Or Stress [Organizing]

Face it, as Christmas grew larger in your life, or as your family did, Christmas became more and more of a Project to execute. Getting a tree, setting it up, decorating it and throwing a few decorations around the house – that was yesterday. Today your life is much more complicated and if you don’t watch it, Christmas becomes a messy stress.

Putting decorations away-2

But preparing for Christmas, from getting out the decorations to setting up the Christmas tree, doesn’t need to be a series of stressful, cluttered, jumbled days. If you have put away all or even just some of your Christmas decorations organized in boxes, setting up Christmas will be an easy thing to do this year.

If your Christmas decorations are not organized at all – no problem; you can still follow along the lines of our Christmas decorations organization. Watch out for the notes!

Count The Weeks

Take basic inventory. How many Christmas boxes do you have? 4? 8? 10? If you’re a family and you’ve been doing for a couple of years, you’ll likely have between 8 and 12 boxes. At least.

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Or; how many zones do you have that need to be Christmas-ized? Entrance, kitchen, room, bedroom. Bathroom?

Or; roughly how many types of Christmas stuff do you have? Christmas items to hang, to stand. Christmas decorations for the tree. Maybe Christmas dishes for the kitchen, right?

Don’t forget the tree, setting it up and decorating it. If you have a permanent, artificial Christmas tree you’re set for that. If you need to buy a tree, add one number to your list.

You’re now going to have a number.

This is the number of weeks before Christmas that you have to start putting your Christmas decorations out.

Add 2: one for unforeseen circumstances, one because you don’t want to finish the week of Christmas itself.

Why so many weeks? No matter what you do in your daily life, the chance that you have every day, all day to decorate your house for Christmas is very, very remote. Highly unlikely. So you work, have a job, paid or not. Family things to do and look after. You’re not going to want to decorate from 6 PM to 10 PM. And once it’s Christmas and you may have some free days – you don’t want to use your free days to “work” again, do you?

That means that in (relaxed) reality, you’ll be using either a day in the weekend or a few odd moments during the week to put that week’s Christmas items out. Goes smooth and almost automatically. You’ll see :)

Christmas One Week At A Time

Take one box out. Not more. Never more than one at a time.

Bring the box to where it is handy for you to work. This can be a table in a dining room, the kitchen counter, even the floor.

If you followed our Christmas Organization you know what’s in the box and are putting out precisely what you intended to put out.

Put out the items that you like. Maybe you have so many Christmas decorations that it’s a good idea to rotate them yearly – but putting them all out is good too; Christmas comes only once a year and not nearly enough in a lifetime!

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Often you’ll find that it’s easier to decorate your home by removing the other, common decorations and items that take their place all year round.

Simply take those other items and put them in the current Christmas box you’re working on.

If you’re not organized yet, or this box isn’t organized yet, decide what you want to put in this box and label the box already as such (see: Putting Christmas Decorations Away). Once it’s time to put the Christmas things away you’ll know what’s going to go where.

Wrap It Up

  • Count how many boxes or bags of Christmas items you have to go through in order for Christmas to be ready for you
  • That’s how many weeks before Christmas you have to start. Add at least 2 more; one week for unforeseen circumstances, one week because you don’t want to work during Christmas
  • Take out one box or bag of Christmas decorations at a time. No more
  • Put things you want gone for the Christmas days in the same box as the Christmas decorations that replace them came from
  • Once you’re done with a box, move on to the next
  • Work a little every day, every week; or work in the weekend every week

Putting Your Christmas Things Away [Organizing]

Christmas is one of the biggest if not the biggest holiday of the year. For many of us that means we have tons of Christmas decorations, some of them quite bulky.

Had you received all this stuff at once, you’d surely looked at it, bought an appropriate set of boxes and would have organized and stored your Christmas decorations.

pilexmas But, as it goes, our collection of Christmas things has come to us over the years. The original angel on top of the tree that we bought at the dollar shop when we had just moved on our own, remember? That set of classic (not old….) scratched Christmas baubles you found at that second hand store ("still made of real glass!!"). The inflatable Santa that seemed like such a good idea. And let’s not forget everything we’ve dug up by smartly buying after the Christmas season.

So, this year when putting your stuff away we’re going to organize it for probably the first time. Don’t worry – we don’t need to do it all at once. This is something you can do piecemeal this year, and a bit next year, and then…. And each year it will become smoother, faster, as your items increasingly have Their Own Place to be found and to go back to.

What we’re going to do is store our Christmas decorations in sturdy, plastic boxes. Not carton: we want to do this once and be done with it for the rest of our life. That rules out bags too whether they’re regular black trash bags or those nice new big Ziploc ones.

Picking Christmas Storage Boxes

What we need are plastic boxes that can be piled on top of each other.

Think Rubbermaid. Any brand will do but Rubbermaid has one important thing going for it: they’ve been around for ages and will likely still be around when you want to buy another box.


Plastic boxes are meant to pile on top of each other the way those Duplo children building blocks do: they sort of interlock, sort of "fit" bottom to top. Mix two or three different brands and 99% of the time you end up with mixed shapes. The result is that you no longer can pile the boxes on top of each other.

This can happen within a brand as well. Sterling also makes great boxes and at a slightly better price than Rubbermaid – but the shape of their models can change every three years or so.

Get transparent boxes. Optional, especially if you need to buy a lot of boxes. But using transparent boxes to store and organize our Christmas items has its advantages. I have to admit that for the neat freaks among us, that can be hard; looking at a "wall" of transparent boxes can give a messy impression.

Although we will label our boxes with a general category of items or naming two or three item types, using a transparent box just adds another layer of convenience.

I use a mix of transparent and non-transparent boxes with the transparent ones dedicated to the Christmas tree decorations.

In general a family that has been celebrating Christmas for a while and loves dressing up the home for Christmas will need 5-15 boxes: a total investment of about $50-$150.

Get a Labeler

We’ll be writing on our boxes what’s in them. Not a detailed list but a general idea; "things to hang", "music boxes", etc.


Surely you can write beautiful but nothing beats the neat and organized look of a printed label. You can pick up a labeler for around 30 bucks or so; they’re really not expensive. And they’re versatile; you can label anything, not just your Chrstmas items. We’re using the Brother PT-80, the follow-up of the classic and highly coveted PT-65.

Note: when sticking a label to a plastic box with Christmas stuff, I like to put some boxing tape or Scotch tape over it just to ensure it will stay in place over the coming years.

Organizing Your Christmas Items

Your goal is to store your Christmas decorations in such a way that you’ll be able to take them out in phases and put them away in phases.

That means that storing items based on size or color is out of the question.

What you’re looking to do is to store Christmas decorations by how you put them (hanging, standing) and/or where you put them (in the tree, outside, a specific room).

To get you started, here are some of our Christmas boxes:

  • Things to Hang
  • Music Boxes & Snow Globes
  • Christmas Dishes
  • Things to Put Out (small)
  • Things to Put Out (large)
  • Figurines
  • Christmas Tree

As a result we’re able to use a spare moment, grab a box and start decorating for Christmas. When we have put the items from the box in place that we want to, we put the box away. Christmas unfolds itself, almost!

And remember, as long as you can afford it, get another box when one is full. Resist the tempation to fill up a box with other knick knacks that don’t belong in that box. Rest assured that over the coming years the empty space in that one box will most likely fill up all by itself anyway!

The "Oh, I Forgot!" Box

This is a tip that took us a couple of years of experience to "get" so use it for free and use it well :)

I don’t know about your household but here no matter how diligent I am, every year I once all the Christmas decorations have been neatly put away … I find a couple more Christmas items.

Used to be that I would go to the basement and "dig out" the right box, put the item away. Then I got lazy and would just put the item on or sort of near the pile of Christmas boxes.

No more!

Next to organizing the Christmas decorations in boxes itself, the single best thing we’ve done is to label one box "Forgotten Items".

We leave it easily reachable (in our case, on top of the smallest pile of boxes) and it gets a good filling most every year.

On top of that, once you find a cute Christmas decoration to buy on sale out of season, you’ll have a place to store it right away!

The Christmas Gifts Box(es)

Something we always advocate to do is to buy your Christmas gifts year round as you find them – especially as you find them on sale, for instance right after the Christmas season has ended.

To keep those gifts new and shiny and to prevent them from getting mixed up with other belongings or gifts you buy in advance for birthdays and what not, I suggest you dedicate at least one box for your Christmas gifts.

Again, just as with the "Oh, I Forgot!" box, this will give you a dedicated place to put those items away and find them back later. And no matter how good your memory, of course you track Christmas gifts on a list.

Wrap It Up

  • Buy plastic boxes from a brand you know will be around for a good time to come:
    • Buy non-transparent boxes for best price and to store items you don’t need to "see"
    • Buyy transparent boxes for better visual organization, especially for items that aren’t clearly defined or need to be "seen"
  • Buy a labeler to keep your organization neat
  • Put items together in one box based on how you use them or where you use them
  • Don’t try to fill boxes; they’ll fill themselves
  • Do it piecemeal; you didn’t get all these Christmas decorations in one year, you don’t need to organize it in one year either