7 Mistakes You’re Probably Making When Storing Your Holiday Decorations

Christmas

istock/Willowpix

It’s all fun and spiked eggnog when it’s time to decorate for Christmas. But after the holiday is over you’ll probably hear crickets instead of clamors to help with the twinkle lights and wreaths.

Yes, the post-Christmas haze is exhausting. And the only thing you may feel like doing is tossing every ornament into a giant bag—and then stuffing it in the nearest closet. Unfortunately, doing this will guarantee you a load of frustration come next year

Take heart: Even home professionals can’t stand the thought of organizing their baubles.

“Honestly, it took a busted pipe in my basement for me to get my act together and store things in a reasonable manner,” admits Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP, a home staging and decorating company.

Don’t let your holiday finery become a hot mess! Here are seven mistakes to avoid when taking down and storing decorations.

1. Working solo

Like folding king-size sheets, storing holiday decorations with a partner makes things much easier, says Darla DeMorrow, author of “Organize Your Home With Sort and Succeed.”

“Having someone to help with carting the storage boxes up and down can shorten the process,” she says.

And who knows, she adds, you might uncover some things that will make you more efficient next year—like that one of you doesn’t mind schlepping boxes, while the other likes the tedium of packing things in bubble wrap.

2. Not properly protecting your decorations

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Pack up your decorations properly.skhoward/IStock

And speaking of bubble wrap, don’t gloss over this step.

“Not taking the time to protect delicate items is a big mistake when it comes to putting away holiday decor,” says Jamie Novak, author of “Keep This Toss That.”

It’s normal to want to rush through this tedious job so you can be done with it, but moving too quickly will just result in breakage.

3. Forgetting to cull (and donate) your decorations

If you didn’t put it up this year, what are the chances you’ll do it next year?

“Anything that’s in disrepair or out of favor I toss,” Gray-Plaisted says.

After all, it’s a good excuse to shop the after-Christmas sales—where you’re sure to find new items that you’ll actually want to display next year. And on that note, make sure to save room in storage for anything you might buy.

“You will get more, so don’t pack your bins all the way to the top,” Novak says.

Before you toss your purged decorations in the trash, though, consider donating them. Shelters, public libraries, health care centers, and other nonprofits might welcome the chance to give your used decorations a second life.

4. Tossing decorations in willy-nilly

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Don’t throw stuff into storage without a clear plan.Susan Vineyard/iStock

If you have garland in four different boxes, you’ll never keep track of it from year to year. Instead, store like with like.

“Put items to decorate the outside together, and place soft goods in their own bin, such as tablecloths, stockings, runners, and napkins,” Gray-Plaisted suggests.

And be sure to pack up the pieces, parts, and written directions for each item together.

“You think you’ll remember how to set up the tree, but you won’t,” Novak cautions.

5. Labeling your decorations vaguely

On a related note, once you’ve packed things together, get out that magic marker. Sure, you’ll write “lights” on the box of lights, but try to be more specific when it comes to labeling your containers. Are the lights for the mantel, mailbox, Christmas tree, or something in the yard?

Novak also recommends labeling boxes as “X out of X” (e.g., “5 out of 7”). If you do this, you won’t miss out on a box or search for one that doesn’t exist.

6. Cheaping out on organizational supplies

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Plastic storage bins filled with decorations for various holidaysChris_Soucy/iStock

Stop yourself before reaching for those brown paper bags!

“Make this the year to invest in sturdy containers for all your ornaments,” Gray-Plaisted urges.

“They may seem pricey, but good ones can last the rest of your life,” DeMorrow adds.

And as long as you’re splurging, opt for red and green containers that are easy to spot in a garage or storage space.

7. Not keeping notes

As you put things away, make notes on what needs replacing or items you need to add your collection (e.g., broken lights, stained cocktail napkins, or a bigger turkey platter for next year). With a detailed list, you can strategically hit those half-price sales in January and fill in the holes for next year.

Posted by Jennifer Geddes on realtor.com

 

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Top Tinsel Towns: 10 Surprising Cities Whose Holiday Charms Are Worth Unwrapping

Accept it, the winter holidays overshadow everything in December, whether you’re a Scrooge or a Tiny Tim. The majority of us fall somewhere in the middle. Along with the joy, there’s the stress: making the frenzied rounds of holiday parties, wandering the aisles of CVS for pre-packaged mistletoe or the last box of Hannukah candles, dutifully enduring the office potluck.

But there are some who truly adore this time of year. They festoon their homes with pine branches, pinecones, and pine-scented Febreze; they install outdoor holiday lighting that rivals the Vegas Strip. They revel in heading to the Christmas tree farm to cut down a fresh spruce, watching “Love Actually” on autorepeat, or going with that special someone to a menorah lighting.

So these folks need to find metros that share their ardor. As it turns out, some cities are more on this celebratory wavelength than others. We set out to find those festive places that go all out for tree lightings, parades, and holiday-themed everything.

“For a city to be really attractive for the holidays, it needs to offer something for everyone—from kids to the grandparents,” says Kirsten Maxwell, founder of kidsareatrip.com, a site about family activities. The events they offer, she says, need to bring every generation together.

The jolly realtor.com® data team dug into the numbers to find those magical metros that are catnip for holiday lovers. We looked at the 150 largest metros around the country and sifted them down to one per state. Our criteria were:*

  • Google searches for “Christmas Parade,” “Hanukkah,” and “Festivus”
  • Seasonal cashiers as a percentage of all employees
  • Percentage of realtor.com home listings with a fireplace or chimney (because, Santa)
  • Christmas tree and holiday decoration businesses per capita
  • Toy stores per capita
  • Alcohol consumption rates by state (holiday parties, oh my!)
  • Number of Christmas trees cut down per state
  • Percentage of all flight arrivals between Dec. 19 and Dec. 23 (to estimate how many folks are going home for the holidays)

Best cities for holiday loversClaire Widman

So hitch up those sleighs, and we’ll find you a holiday match. Ho ho ho.

1. Hickory, NC

Median home price: $232,000

Holiday highlight: Enjoy some of the nation’s finest Christmas tree farms … just don’t get run off the road like a Griswold.

Union Square in downtown Hickory, NCWikipedia CC

This place takes its Yuletide festivities seriously. Every year, an 18-foot tree in the mountains of North Carolina is cut down and erected in the city square, where it’s generously decorated. The lighting takes place the week before Thanksgiving—and thousands of community members come out to watch it, and the parade beforehand. It’s a big deal.

So how does it work, you ask? “The parade wraps up downtown, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus light the tree,” says Dana Kaminske, spokeswoman for the city of Hickory. “We have hot chocolate and cookies. And the downtown retailers stay open. All the money raised from the professional floats goes into a scholarship fund.” Got it.

Before December arrives, this town is already in full holiday swing. There’s the Western Piedmont Symphony’s holiday concert, and the holiday kick-off event at the Hickory Museum of Art. Or chill out to a frontier Christmas vibe while strolling through what’s purported to be the nation’s largest collection of “rescued and restored” log cabins, in Hart Square.

2. Eugene, OR

Median home price: $337,275
Holiday highlight: 
More Christmas trees! No. 1 in the nation for piney production

Oregon’s Ugliest Sweater RunOregon’s Ugliest Sweater Run via Facebook

Eugene residents love getting outdoors to run, bike, and hike, so naturally, that’s how they hail the holidays, too.

Case in point: Oregon’s Ugliest Sweater Run, which takes place here a couple of weeks before Christmas. It’s your typical 5K run, just requiring that contestants be outfitted in that hideous knitted garment an aunt bought them a few years back. If that doesn’t do it for you, try the Jingle Rush 5K, where you’re provided antlers and bells at the start of the run, and hot chocolate and cider upon completion. Heck, the city’s nickname is Track City U.S.A. Winners never quit!

To stave off dehydration, head over to the Holiday Cocktail Party at the Provisions Market Hall. You’ll guzzle holiday libations and beer from local breweries, all while digging Rat Pack-era tunes.

3. Buffalo, NY

Median home price: $166,525
Holiday strength: 
Great for kids, lousy for bank accounts—the highest concentration of toy stores per capita

Even the deer love Buffalo during the holidays.Joel Lim/Getty Images

In the 19th century, Buffalo was one of the first cities to install electric streetlights, earning it the nickname City of Light. They’re still gaga over their lights here, as evidenced by the ultracool display of more than a million LEDs that you’ll see as you drive through the Fairgrounds Festival of Lights. More than 15,000 cars wind their way through the spectacle during a two-week period every December.

“This past Saturday, we had 1,500 carloads,” says Marty Biniasz, marketing manager at Erie County Fairgrounds. “Drivers can listen to Ho-Ho Radio and our holiday soundtrack as they drive through.” After all, what would a festival of lights be without Ho-Ho Radio?

The Fairgrounds also has a 3,000-square-foot maze. Once you find your way out, you can grab your Santa suit and head over to SantaCon Buffalo for drinks with 5,000 other Santas.

Did we mention that Fisher-Price, one of the world’s largest toy companies, is based in the Buffalo region?

4. Pittsburgh, PA

Median home price: $171,500
Holiday highlight: 
Hi, Mom! An unusually high number of townies return home for the holidays.

PPG Place Ice RinkLori Kemp/Getty Images

During the mid-20th century, Pittsburgh was a steel and coal-producing behemoth, and transporting those products required a massive network of railroads and locomotives. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that model trains play a big role in the Steel City’s holiday celebrations.

“There were so many [trains] in Western Pennsylvania,” says Bill Humphrey, public relations director and vice president of the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum. “People think of us around Christmas time, which all goes back to the tradition of setting up a model train around your Christmas tree.”

During the holiday months, the museum opens up and guests pile in to share nostalgia for the city’s past. The museum’s best-known model train is a 1/87th scale model that replicates the network of trains and tracks that ran between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, MA, in the summer of 1952.

But it’s not all diesel and ironworks here. The Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is another December tradition. Luminous orbs, oversized ornaments, and festive lights add to the allure of orchids and poinsettias.

5. Sarasota, FL

Median home price: $350,000
Holiday strength: 
Drink up! Alcohol consumption spikes here in December, thanks to a plethora of parties.

Venice Christmas Boat ParadeEducation Images/UIG via Getty Images

When you think of the holidays, you probably picture snow and snowball fights—not temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s. That doesn’t stop folks here from celebrating hard. So if you want the festive atmosphere without the chill, then Sarasota might be your place. Just make sure to bring your boat!

The annual Venice Christmas Boat Parade floats along the waterways from South Nokomis Beach to North Venice Beach. Participating boats are transformed into decorated Christmas floats with lit-up reindeer and palm trees.There’s also the Downtown Sarasota Tree Lighting Celebration and the Jazz Christmas Concert at the Centennial Park.

Feeling wistful for the white stuff? Swing by Snow Fest Sarasota, where you and your children can play in manmade snow. The free event attracts around 15,000 guests and offers pony rides, snowman building, and jelly bean juggling—because why not?

6. Hartford, CT

Median home price: $259,950
Holiday strength:
 A fine place to celebrate eight crazy nights

Winter in HartfordDenisTangneyJr/iStock

Cue the Hanukkah celebrations: Connecticut has one of the highest concentrations of Jewish residents in the country.

To kick off the first day of Hanukkah, townies gather at the Blue Back Square in West Hartford for a menorah-lighting ceremony held by Chabad of Greater Hartford, a community group. Afterwards, they get to watch a live carving of an ice menorah and 3-D dreidel printing. Be honest: You’re curious about the dreidel printing.

“In West Hartford, around 25% of the population is Jewish,” says Susannah MacNeil, associate vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. “We have a very vibrant community and a wide variety of Hanukkah celebrations. And latke tastings.”

Other holiday entertainment in the region includes the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus, which regales the crowds with its annual fave, “Nutcracker: Men in Tights.”

7. Providence, RI

Median home price: $342,450
Holiday highlight: 
Need help with holiday decor? You’re in the right place.

Providence, RIdigidreamgrafix/Getty Images

One of the world’s largest toy makers calls the Providence region home: Hasbro, the maker of Monopoly and My Little Pony. And Providence sure loves its toys.

“The holidays are our time of the year,” says Emily Brownell, manager at Henry Bear’s Park, a mega toystore in Providence.

Providence has all the holiday attractions you’d expect, plus a few extra. You can watch “A Christmas Carol,” which will be performed for the 40th year at Trinity Rep in downtown Providence. Then you can throw on some holiday attire and run the holiday-themed F.I.T. ‘Mas 5K Trail Race-TrailFecta. Want to show the state love even on your Christmas tree? Swing by the visitor center at the Rhode Island State House, where Rhode Island ornaments are on sale. Deck the halls!

8. Salisbury, MD

Median home price: $299,950
Holiday highlights: 
Throw a rock in any direction in December, and you’ll hit either a holiday shop or a Christmas parade. So don’t throw rocks, OK?  

In Salisbury, holiday traditions seem to stick around. There’s the annual Salisbury Christmas Parade, from Mount Hermon Road to East Main Street, which has been going strong for 71 years. The parade includes fire trucks, marching bands, Santa Claus, and Saul the Salisbury Jaycees Bear.

The Emmanuel Wesleyan Church in Salisbury hosts a Christmas Eve candlelight service and a Christmas play called “How to Have the Best Christmas Ever!” Be prepared to take notes.

In nearby Ocean City, which is part of the Salisbury metro area, holiday lovers can enjoy the Winterfest of Lights. This is the 25th year of the event, which illuminates more than 1 million light bulbs. Imagine the electricity bill!

9. St. Louis, MO

Median home price: $189,950
Holiday highlight: 
An exceptionally high concentration of fireplaces. Cuddle up!

St. LouisJByard/iStock

Anheuser-Busch, the iconic St. Louis company, shows its appreciation for the city by hosting an annual Brewery Lights event that runs from mid-November to the end of December. It features s’mores, ice skating, and—duh—beer. Just save the Bud and Michelob Light for when your skates are off.

The classic holiday activities make the city great for the holidays, says Anthony Paraino, director of public relations of Explore St. Louis. “People come into town from all over, just to see the light displays,” he says. Endless showings of “Meet Me in St. Louis” on TCM don’t hurt the tourism trade, either.

10. Lafayette, LA

Median home price: $210,000
Holiday highlight: 
Shopping and shellfish 

Lafayette stands out for its unique take on holiday traditions. This shrimping town bills its season as Christmas on the Cajun Coast. So of course, festivities include a decorated boat parade down the bayou.

“Santa and some of his helpers and the mayor turn on the city’s [Christmas] lights, and then all the kids gather around the shrimp boat to take photos,” says Carrie Stansbury, executive director of the Cajun Coast and Convention Bureau. Delicious.

*Data sources: realtor.com; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Bureau of Transportation Statistics; Google Trends; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. National Institutes of Health; and Yelp.

 

Posted by Lance Lambert on realtor.com

5 Holiday Looks on the Nice List

Festive ideas for decking your halls this season, straight from the source.

If Santa’s decor has been on the top of your wishlist ever since he claimed his home on Zillow, now you can make it happen. We highlighted five ways you can easily incorporate his holiday style into your home.

 

 

Posted by Renee Meininger on Zillow

Bah Humbug: 5 Bizarre Holiday Light Fails

Deck the halls with lots of lights, fa-la-la-la, oh whatever. To celebrate the holiday season, we’re gifting you with a selection of five holiday light fails, so you can feel better about the light choices your neighbors make.

Hydrated Santa

A little too much milk there, Santa. Funny or crass? We will let you decide!

Meh!

For those feeling underwhelmed this holiday season, this light job is ideal.

Bah Humbug

Greetings from your friendly neighborhood Scrooge!

RIP Rudolph

Now this is just messed up. Way to make all the neighborhood children weep, buddy.

Ditto

We kind of like this example of “What they said.”

Have you seen any holiday light fails? Post them to our Facebook page! 

 

Posted by Zoe Eisenberg on RISMedia’s Housecall

How to Decorate Simply for the Holidays (With Big Impact)

Focus on these three areas to maximize your decor efforts.

You may have dreams of decorating your home like it’s a display window at a fancy department store, but then reality strikes: You’ve still got gift shopping and wrapping to do, holiday parties to attend and host … not to mention your everyday life to live.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Go for intentional minimalism. Some years, less is more.

Simple decor can still have a big impact — not the least of which is relieving you of some holiday hustle and bustle. All you need to do is hone in on sprucing up three key areas in your home.

Target your tree

The most obvious place to start is your Christmas tree. For an easy, fuss-free tree, go with a monochromatic color scheme.

Metallic ornaments give your tree extra glitz and seasonal sparkle.

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Metallic ornaments give your tree extra glitz and seasonal sparkle.

Another option is to use all neutral colors so you don’t have to worry about balancing a color palette or tree placement — it will coordinate with any room’s normal decor.

Make your mantel magical

If you have a fireplace in your home, the mantel is an ideal spot to bring a little holiday cheer, but don’t make it too complicated.

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Cotton branches intertwined with silver artificial garland.

Choose a statement-making garland to hang or drape across the top. Place some candles on the mantel to light at night, and you’re good to go.

Top off your table

The holidays are a prime time for entertaining, hosting, and gathering around the table. So bring seasonal flair to your table with a beautiful garland, which can go a long way as a table runner.

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A garland made of magnolia leaves and evergreen creates a dramatic table runner.

Make the decor as simple as placing a lush garland in the center of your table and mixing in candles for added ambiance.

Decorating for the holidays has never been so easy. Focus on these three spots, and your home will feel magical and holiday-ready in no time.

Photos courtesy of White Buffalo Styling Co

Posted by Lindsay Jackman on Zillow

How To Squeeze A Tree Into Your Living Room

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, thy placement is so vexing.

Picture this: You’ve recently moved to a new Washington, DC, apartment or snagged a new home for sale in Houston, TX, and your furniture is perfectly positioned: There’s just enough room for your swanky chesterfield sofa, club chair, and coffee table. But as the season changes and you swap out your pumpkin-spice candle with cranberry peppermint, a thought hits you like a sack of coal: There’s no room in your perfect living room for a Christmas tree.

Take a deep breath of that delightfully festive-smelling air. Just because there’s no space in your current configuration doesn’t mean you have to forgo a tree. And while there are tons of ideas out there for alternative Christmas trees — including twine trees and book pyramids — sometimes nothing beats the smell of a real Fraser fir. Although you may have to settle for something smaller than your dream 7-foot tree, you can still fit in a tree with a little creative thinking.

First things first: Safety. When considering your unconventional tree placement, make sure you’re not blocking a walkway or doorway. Ensure your tree (and those precariously placed glass ornaments) isn’t an obstruction to actually walking around your space. Next, remember that Santa does not appreciate tripping over an extension cord as he reaches for his milk and cookies. Finally, place that tree in an area that’s away from heating elements, including forced air, radiators, and fireplaces you use.

Safety concerns addressed? Good. Cue the holiday music, fire up that cranberry-peppermint candle, and consider one of these five ways to deck your halls and squeeze a tree into any space.

how-to-squeeze-a-tree-into-your-living-room-12-6-infographic

Posted by Liz Olech on Trulia

10 Holiday Gift Ideas for Every Person on Your List

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to focus on the few short weeks left to find holiday gifts for everyone on your list. Choosing the perfect present can be daunting, so the editors at HGTV put together multiple guides for nearly every interest. There’s even a guide for those who, no matter how hard they try, always give bad gifts.

As the editors carefully curated their items, a few stood out as particularly noteworthy and they’ve shared those below. So, make a list, check it twice and win the holidays by picking up these fantastic gifts.

Keri Sanders, Assistant Editor
25 Cute and Thoughtful Gifts Under $25

West Elm

I love these tea towels for an inexpensive stocking stuffer or addition to a gift basket. They are totally adorable as is, but you can actually go in and pick the dog that is most like that owned by the gift recipient and then write their real dog’s name in. And for only $9, I want one for everyone I know.

Katie Friedman, Editorial Intern
The Muggle’s Guide to Magical Shopping

Funko POP!

After seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I can safely say that I’d like a niffler for Christmas. However, since they’re currently banned by the Magical Congress of the United States, I’ll have to settle for the Funko POP! version ($9.95) instead. With a pouch full of gold, these mischievous creatures are the cutest way to spruce up your desk and show your love for the Harry Potter franchise.

Deanne Revel, Managing Editor
21 Gifts That Give Back

Unicef Market

If you’ve never checked out the Unicef Market, welcome to your one-stop holiday shopping site. Browse more than 8,000 beautiful, handmade items from around the world. Linens, knickknacks, jewelry. There’s something for everyone on your list.

Beth Rucker, Managing Editor
11 White Elephant Gifts Under $25

Paper Source

I personally love the quippy magnetic coffee mug (19.95). Before coffee, my mood can be a bit mercurial, so I could use the magnetic letters on this mug to give my co-workers a hint to what they can expect from me on a given morning. Maybe a message like, “It’s a good day for a good day” on the happier morning and a simple, “Go away” on the more, um, challenging ones.

Chelsea Faulkner, Assistant Editor
Bad Gift Giver Guide

I’m a terrible gift giver. Like, the worst of the worst. Last year, I gave my fiancé a really expensive name-brand watch because the one he wore regularly was looking a little worse for wear. When he unwrapped it, he was confused and disappointed because, in his mind, he already had a perfectly good watch. Turns out I’m an ‘all about me’ gift giver. Instead of choosing gifts my loved ones actually want, I buy items that I (key word here) think they need. Lesson learned.

Shannon Petrie, Managing Editor
14 Experiential Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything

Tinggly

For the person on your list who has everything, an experiential gift is a great alternative to a traditional gift. Tinggly is my favorite option for its flexibility: The company scours the globe for inspiring, high-quality experiences, from rock climbing in Ireland to a traditional tapas meal in Spain to hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley. You pay a flat fee (starting at $79), and your gift recipient has two years to choose their dream adventure. It’s the perfect present for the world traveler in your life.

Kayla Kitts, Managing Editor
18 Unique Gifts for Pop Culture Junkies

Etsy

After my BFF’s Harry Potter-themed bachelorette party this summer, my love for the wizarding world was reinvigorated. Now I want ALL THE HARRY POTTER THINGS. Luckily, my friends are the same. So, if I bought one of them this “Lumos” cuff (starting at $20), they would know immediately how and when to use this charm.

Jordan Lawson, Online Editor
10 Gifts for Every Milestone

My favorite gift? The gift for the new grad, a home bar set ($59.95). It’s got absolutely everything you need to make the perfect drink right in the comfort of your own home. Plus, the mixing glass has recipes in case you need some classic cocktails to kick-start your mixology career.

Ryan Reed, Editor
10 Purrrfect Gifts for Cats and Dogs

Courtesy of Harry Barker

I have three dogs so it should come as no surprise when I tell you that nearly every room of my house has a bone or some plush toy hidden in a seat cushion or laying on the floor. The dog toy bin from Harry Barker ($18) solves that problem. Not only is it a great place to store all of your dog’s toys, but it’s stylish and made from recycled plastics too.

Farima Alavi, Assistant Editor
Gifts for the Sports Fan in Your Life

farima.alavi

This gift ideas combines two of my favorite things of the season: ugly holiday sweaters and the NFL (starting at $49.99). They have a collection for men, women and children, so you can get one for every family member.

Posted by Ryan Reed on hgtv.com