Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Fast & Easy (& Free!) Way to Store All Those Christmas Ornaments

Putting away Christmas decorations is not my favorite thing to do. Individually wrapping each ornament in its own tissue paper or bubble wrap, carefully fitting it into a box or tote and situating it all just right to avoid any damage, attempting to keep the original packaging only to have it crush or otherwise fall apart... These are just some of the reasons why it is a task that I just do not enjoy. But this year, I have found a better (aka faster!) way, and it involves repurposing, which I love.

My new way involves reusing those plastic cases that apples come in from Costco. These cases work PERFECTLY for storing and protecting ornaments. No wrapping is involved at all. One bulb goes into each empty apple slot and VIOLA! Ornaments are put away! Fast, easy, and free. Three of my favorite things! :)


Most of the apple cases (if not all), have a spot where 2 spaces have no divider between them, and these work great for taller ornaments, as you can see in the photo at left where I put the bear ornament in the center.


I also repurposed one of Costco's plastic egg cases, which worked great for the smaller balls and ornaments. 

After filling my apple/egg cases, I had 3 ornaments left over that didn't quite work with the plastic case. The top one was just too large, the Santa one too oval, and the photo ornament would have fit, but it's my favorite and has a great original styrofoam case. 

(Isn't that photo ornament adorable? I got it for free. Well, I may have paid shipping--I can't remember. But otherwise free. I will post more about that someday, eventually, in a post titled, "How to Get Stuff for Free.")

The photo ornament went into its original case, while I just wrapped the other 2 the old fashioned way in tissue paper/bubble wrap.

In addition to the normal breakable ornaments, we also have quite a few handmade, crafty ornaments my kids have made out of cardstock. I put these into a padded, manila envelope so they wouldn't get torn or damaged in the off season. (The manila envelope is also repurposed. I receive and reuse lots of manila envelopes when I get free books from PaperBackSwap.com. More on that in a future post called "How to Get Books for Cheap or Even for Free.)

Next, I put all the now-filled plastic cases into a storage tote (4 apple cases high, and 1 egg case on its side). I also slipped in the manila envelope beside the egg case. On the empty end, I put all the ornaments that are not fragile (wooden, stuffed, etc.).

(Don't have a storage tote? Scroll down to see a "Use What You Have" section.)

On top of the non-breakable ornaments, I put the 3 ornaments I had wrapped/put in original packaging, followed by some air-filled pockets (reused from Christmas packages, of course. :)

After I finished packing away all our ornaments, I had to take care of the "kids' ornaments." (We have a small tree the kids put up in their room that they get to decorate with their own ornaments.) For the most part, these are not breakable. I took the few small breakable ones and put them in a bubble wrap envelope and put that, along with all their other ornaments, into a small box.

 The "Kids' Ornaments" box went sideways into the tote. Everything fit perfectly. I love perfect. :)

The last thing to do was label it with my label maker. I like to label my totes on one long and one short side so I can see it no matter how I had to stack it. Ahhh, sweet organization!

Don't Have Something I Suggested? Use What You Have

Don't have a tote? Use a box instead. No boxes? No problem. I'm guessing what you do have is a shoe store in your area. Believe it or not, shoe stores have GREAT boxes. (These also make great FREE moving boxes. When we were moving, I called the one in my area and they saved boxes for me. They also let me take boxes out of their cardboard recycle bin at the back of the store.) BONUS: While you are there getting a box for your ornaments, pick up a few of their tall, skinny boxes. These make excellent recycle bins. Just line a few up on the wall of your garage and WAMMO!  Free organization. (More on this in my someday/eventual post titled "Use What You Have Organizing.")

No air-filled pockets or cushioning? Empty water bottles can give you some of that airy protection you're looking for.

Need a bubble wrap mailer/manila envelope? Make one using a manila file folder. Open the folder and staple bubble wrap/tissue paper/padding to the inside (even leftover fabric or a cut up old blanket/shirt would work). Then close the folder and staple on three sides. Instant padded manila envelope.

Don't have a Costco membership or don't buy apples at Coscto? Maybe you have a friend who does! Ask said friend if (s)he would be willing to save some apple/egg cases for you.

No label maker? Use masking tape instead. Or write it on a sheet of paper and tape it to the tote.

If you used something unusual for your ornament storage or have a different "Use What You Have," I would love to hear about it!

{Disclaimer: The apple case to ornament storage idea is not originally mine. However, I cannot for the life of me remember where I first saw it! It was before pinterest, and I don't think it came from a blog. I'm pretty sure I maybe saw it from a magazine a long while ago? I wish I could give credit where credit is due, but in this case I just can't! Sorry! I did expand the idea to include the egg cases, but otherwise the idea is not mine.}

This post has been featured on The Better Mom Monday's Link Up:

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