Often we don’t think about next year. Christmas is over, the New Year approaches – take the decorations down, toss in a box and deal with it next year. Save the aggravation!

Here are twelve easy and inexpensive ways to make decorating next season easier and more stress free:

# 1 – Get small price tags – the little paper ones with string that ties to an item. As you take lights down, label the tag and tie to the string – “family room”, “tree,” “front porch” or whatever – allows you to easily pull out and direct decorations to the right place. Cost – under $2.

# 2 – Take it a step further – have a plastic tub designated for small outdoor decorations (lights and such), another one for indoor and another for the tree itself. This allows putting them away in an organized fashion, saving time and money in replacing broken things that shouldn’t have been broken. Cost – under $20, depending on how many decorations you have.

christmas-lights-tangled# 3 – Keep lights from getting tangled by folding up and slipping through a plastic sleeve. This can easily be made and labeled from a plastic soda bottle – cut the ends off and slide the lights through. Cost – recycled!

# 4 – Get a CD case and collect all the Christmas CDs in one place – they can easily be pulled out if you feel like listening to them in July but are in one container.

# 5 – Box up Christmas and holiday DVD or video tapes. This keeps them protected and if not damaged they don’t need replaced, saving money.

# 6 – Have a container for Christmas kitchen items – from holiday cookie cutters to bowls and other items used just at Christmas – they’re kept protected and out of the way for the rest of the year you don’t use them. This goes for holiday mugs and anything you use just a couple months of the year.

# 7 – Have holiday clothing? Special Christmas motive shirts or other items just used in November and December? Yep – wash them up and box up to be put with the other Christmas storage items.

# 8 – Develop holiday pictures, take advantage of photo finishing specials and get those photos stored or displayed! Life is precious – celebrate it!

# 9 – As you are packing up decorations take note of broken lights and other small details – fix them before putting things away, helping to insure when pulled out the next year everything works “straight from the box.”

# 10 – Recycle holiday ‘trash’ – do you have nut tins, cans or other items that can be used for something else? Use popcorn and other gift tins to store Christmas items in – or cover with contact paper to use for other purposes. These are also good to put with holiday storage for those who take advantage of sales year round to buy for Christmas.

# 11 – Shop for wrapping paper, gift tags and other items now, insuring if you buy something in August you have the ability to easily wrap it.

# 12 – Make notes what worked well this year and what to change. A great recipe? Store it with your kitchen things! Some decorations that didn’t look quite as you liked? Give them to someone who would enjoy them.

Little things done now can make the next Christmas season cheaper and more enjoyable. Easy and less expensive is good!

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