As if the long cold winter ahead isn't punishment enough, you've got a major bummer of a job putting away all those decorations. To the rescue: our Mom Squad organizing expert Kathy Peel, author of The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home, with tips on how to un-deck your halls and store your stuff so you can find it when you want it next year.
Choose clear plastic bins You don't have to pony up for all the specialty storage containers available -- just invest in some good-size, all-purpose containers that give you a peek into the contents.
Put things in order Store the decorations you'll need right after Thanksgiving in one bin, and label it "Open Me First." Include outdoor lights and seasonal storybooks and music.
Use what you have Leftover wine boxes are perfectly sectioned with cardboard dividers to protect larger ornaments -- layer tissue paper, newspaper, or bubble wrap in between -- and egg cartons are ideal for the tiny ones. Coil your lights, extension cords, and garlands around the cardboard cylinders that come with wrapping paper.
Group like items together Pack items you display together in the same bins. Store all your holiday linens in one spot, too. n label as much as you can manage Okay, it sounds a tad obsessive, but you'll be delighted next year when you can find items tagged "stair garland" and "inflatable snowman" without having to dig through every last box.