Holiday Decorating Tips

Holiday Decorating. While we love the results, the process can be exhausting. Here are my tips to keep the process smooth.

Every year it is the same. The turkey is barely digested when “BOOM”… it is time to shift into Christmas season. For many, this means putting up holiday decorations. While we love the results, the process can be exhausting. Here are my tips to keep the process smooth.

Make each year work for you.

Just because you have a huge collection of Charles Dickens houses doesn’t mean you have to put all of them out every year. Don’t have time to put up the full display of lights? That’s ok! Each year brings its own activities and challenges. Traditions are wonderful, but feel free to leave a few items in storage if that frees up much-needed time.

Remove year-round décor to make space for holiday items.

Simply adding to what is already on display will make your space feel cluttered. If you have room in nearby drawers or cabinets, stash the daily décor inside. If not, you can always empty your decorations bins and put the everyday items of these. When it comes time to pack holidays pieces away, it will be easy to reset with your typical pieces.

Label supplies by location.

Label anything you use in multiple locations (extension cords, strings of lights, etc.) These often get packed into one big box, and if they aren’t labeled, you have to reinvent the wheel each year. Simply use a Sharpie to write on the bottom or side where each piece is used in your display.

Store tree decorations in their own boxes.

We often decorate the tree on a different day than the rest of the house. To keep the clutter at bay, these boxes can be left in a corner or garage until it is time to trim the tree.

Leverage the camera.

If you tend to forget how you set up decorations up from one year to the next, do yourself a favor and take a photograph of each vignette as it is completed. You can either store digital photos in a folder marked “Holidays” on your computer, and/or print the photos and store them in the box with the room’s décor.

Designate holiday storage zones.

The holidays mean we have new items in our space, such as stuffed reindeer, holiday videos and books, cards, “festive wear,” candy, etc. Set out containers to hold specific items and let the family know what goes where. For example, a canvas bag on a hook for the antlers and light-up necklaces, and a basket on the floor for holiday stuffed animals. Also, decide how you will hold/display holiday cards (for more ideas on cards, click here.)

Re-pack decorations by room.

To make life easier next year, pack decorations back into boxes that are labeled by room. Label each box to indicate what is inside and where it is displayed, such as “Santas for Family Room.” To make labeling boxes easier, consider these adhesive pouches. They stick to anything and you can change the label over and over:


Identa-Label Adhesive Pouches

In addition, make a list of anything you need to buy for next year, such as “new candles for the advent wreath” or “batteries for the talking snowman.” Stores often have sales on holiday supplies in January, so stock up and pack these in with the decorations.

Consider investing in quality storage.

Decorations can be stored in cardboard boxes, but there are some wonderful storage products available today that really do make life easier. Here are a few ideas to whet your appetite and perhaps give you some Christmas gift ideas.


IRIS Holiday Wing Lid Organizer


Classic Accessories Lights Storage Duffel


Homz Wreath Storage Container


Artificial Tree Storage Bag

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Remember, decorating is meant to enrich your holiday, not drain you or leave you feeling inadequate. It is your house, so do what brings you joy.

What ideas do you have for simplifying holiday decorating?

51 thoughts on “Holiday Decorating Tips”

    1. We got a bag for the tree last year and it makes me happy every time I look at it! I found the photos helpful especially after we move into our new house.. I found myself wandering trying to remember what went where:)

  1. Seana,
    You have so many great and useful tips here! I will be using many of them this year! Thank you for sharing these. I would love it if you would stop by and link up with us on Tuesday and share these or any of your posts and tips with us at the Brag About It Link Party!
    Laurie recently posted…Snickerdoodle Sunday #108My Profile

    1. I’m sure I would totally approve. Sounds like Cassidy and I think alike. How lucky is your family to have your camera at the ready, documenting everything. And YOUR photos are beautiful, not dark and shady phone photos like mine:)

  2. We don’t decorate the whole house. so we have all our decorations in a large hinged lid Rubbermaid. I love the idea of the pouches and putting the everyday items in the bins the decorations come out of.

    1. Yes, it’s good to clear some space so the decorations can really be enjoyed. Most of us have too much out on surfaces even before the holidays:) Love the hinged lids!

  3. I think putting it all away is so much harder than taking it all out. Though, keeping an excited 6 yr old to wait to open EVERYTHING is the tough part. Though each year I get excited to see it al through his eyes too!

    We have two big totes and put the small tree in a black bag. Though will getting more ornaments each year we will need a bigger box for them.
    karen recently posted…Book Review Blog Hop #27My Profile

    1. I agree it is so hard to keep the children waiting. I love that about kids — they do keep you young and excited. I think we are up to 3 boxes of ornaments now!

  4. I love the room by room decorating tip. It’s much easier to focus and get one room complete at a time.

    This year I am really trimming down! For years I have felt that less is more and this year I am empowered to do much less.

    1. I think we are moving into a similar place of “less is more.” When I finally started storing items by room I felt like I had a lightbulb moment — why it took me so long, who knows?

  5. Great ideas … especially the fact that we should be enjoying the decorations in our home and not letting the whole process cause us stress. Also, removing the year round decorations is important to put those Holiday ones out. Otherwise you have a cluttered mess.

    1. I know we can both relate the cluttered mess… seems obvious, but sometimes you just forget to take stuff away before adding something new, right Regina?

  6. Tip #1 is so helpful for me! I love to and continue to buy stuff each year, but don’t want to get rid of stuff, because I like to change Christmas up each year. It is a great reminder that not everything has to go out. When I hit the wall, put it away and just enjoy. This will be my mantra for this next week!
    carolyn recently posted…November Visiting Teaching… What Lack I Yet?My Profile

    1. I’m going to share out your wonderful quote… “put it away and just enjoy!” That’s terrific! Everything looks so appealing in the stores, but I need to stop myself sometimes. It’s so hard, though, at this wonderful time of the year!

    1. Thanks for inviting me, Laurie! I will try and stop by often. Enjoyed looking around and commenting on some of the great posts by your contributors:) Have a great Thanksgiving!

    1. It goes so fast, Jessica! I feel like I blink and it is suddenly Valentine’s Day! Sometimes I try and pause and breathe and enjoy the moment before it slips away.

  7. Quality storage! So important to store everything properly. In my younger days my husband and I just wrapped our ornaments in plastic bags and kept them in Rubbermaid containers. Luckily we lost or broke a few over the years!
    April R. recently posted…A very personal giftMy Profile

    1. Yes, the right tool always makes the task easier. Always. Sometimes we have a tough time justifying the expense of a quality tool, but I believe they are well worth the investment in the long run… which I why think they might make a nice gift idea!

    1. The first time I thought to re-pack by room I couldn’t believe how much time it saved me… sort of a, “Duh!” moment for me. Sometimes, I learn that way….

  8. Timely advice. We have two trees worth of ornaments and I alternate from year to year. Last year was the silver, white and pale blue tree, so this year it will be the candy cane tree. I do love my Christmas decorations so I try to store them very carefully so they don’t get damaged or dusty.
    adrian recently posted…Fun and Funky Holiday Nail DesignsMy Profile

    1. I love the idea of rotating you trees… we have too many ornaments for one tree as well (my girls keep getting ornaments each year, but neither has a tree yet, so I get to hold onto all the ornaments.) You’ve got me thinking!

  9. This is great, Seana! I love that you mentioned to remove year around items. I take my year around items and place them in the holiday decoration bins so I remember where I place them. I also take pictures of the home so I remember what I did the previous year. I usually like to change things a bit but this helps remind me what I did.
    Sabrina Q. recently posted…Thanksgiving Time Saving TipsMy Profile

    1. Yes Sabrina, you never want to be “locked into” any decorating scheme. Sometimes mixing it up is fun! I tend to put the majority of items in the same places, and then rotate a few.

    1. Lucky you, Rea! We have most of our indoor decorations up, but still need to do the tree, the wreath, and the outside lights. Fun to look forward to!

  10. What great suggestions you’ve shared for organizing holiday decor and processes. While our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, I work with many clients that do. I’ve had the privilege and fun of helping them to organize and decorate. There’s no question that it helps to have a system AND good storage. The packing and unpacking become part of the annual tradition.
    Linda Samuels recently posted…The Surprising Power of Gratitude On Your StressMy Profile

    1. That’s so true, Linda. The unpacking is definitely part of the tradition… especially with the tree, where many people relive the memory of what was happening in life when each ornament was acquired. Other faiths also have meaningful traditions wrapped up in candle lighting, prayers, and special foods.. all of which are better with good storage, right? Such a wonderful time of year!

    1. That tip is particularly helpful the first couple of years in a new space. Also comes in handy if you are lucky enough to have someone else helping you decorate!

  11. Great tips, Seana! Especially like the ones about removing every day decorations, and about taking photos. One thing I would add: Not only do you not have to use all your decorations every year, you also don’t have to keep them forever. The time to donate no-longer-wanted decorations is at the beginning of the season, as you unpack them, or if you notice a box or bag you never open anymore. Don’t re-pack and keep storing those things. Give someone else the chance to use them!
    Hazel Thornton recently posted…Have you seen Hazel Thornton’s Photo Clutter Flow Chart?My Profile

    1. Oh Amen to that extra tip, Hazel! It’s so important to “cull” the decoration collection. If we no longer love it and enjoy seeing it as part of the display, let it go for sure:)

  12. Seana,

    I absolutely love your concluding statement, the advise to do what brings joy! I do take photos of my holiday vignettes each year, and create a reference file on my computer ( a holiday decorating cheat sheet if you will). It really helps when you’ve designated time to decorate, but the creative juices are not flowing.
    Natalie Gallagher recently posted…Your Holiday Season…Simplified. Part 1My Profile

  13. Seana,

    I absolutely love your concluding statement, the advise to do what brings joy! I do take photos of my holiday vignettes each year, and create a reference file on my computer ( a holiday decorating cheat sheet if you will). It really helps when you’ve designated time to decorate, but the creative juices are not flowing.
    Natalie Gallagher recently posted…Your Holiday Season…Simplified. Part 1My Profile

    1. Totally agree, Natalie. The holidays can be stressful, and anything we can do to make the time require less thinking is helpful. Plus, you never know… you might end up with the flu one year and having this handy file will enable someone else to come in and do the task for you!

    1. Some years you just don’t have the bandwidth to do it all… and we shouldn’t feel that pressure. Labeling by room was sort of a lightbulb for me a few years back – should have done that long ago!

    1. Oh, I hope you find them, Jessica! I know decorations can have a lot of sentimental value… in addition to just making the holiday feel festive! I hope you have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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