After another dazzling holiday season, it's almost time to ring in the new year. But before you do, spend a few minutes doing a different kind of wrap-up -- on that will save you a whole lot of trouble next year.
Try a Box with Dividers for Not-So-Precious Ornaments
A segmented cardboard box -- whether store-bought or a wine box -- is great for sturdier ornaments. Our editors recommend cardboard boxes, which don't trap moisture as plastic bins do. If possible, avoid storing decorations in the basement or attic, where humidity and temperature fluctuate throughout the year. Instead, opt for a closet or under a bed.
Help Your Bow Keep Its Shape
Untying a bow or ironing out creases can damage some ribbon (especially older pieces). Avoid both by storing bows intact: To make sure the loops don't crimp in storage, cut cardboard tubes and wrap them with paper towels so that they fit snugly inside. Store flat in a shallow box, either plastic or cardboard.
Safeguard Fragile Ornaments
Editor in chief Eric Pike uses tissue paper to individually wrap each vintage ornament in his collection. Here's his process:
1. Center the ornament on a short side of a rectangle of tissue paper (acid-free is best because it has no chemicals that can harm delicate pieces).
2. Roll the ornament in the tissue, creating a tube with a bump in the center. Fold one side over.
3. Flip the ornament over, and fold the remaining side over in the opposite direction (like a Z), creating thick padding on the sides.
Storing Christmas Lights
Next year, don't spend a minute sorting through tangled webs of holiday decorations. Keep lights organized by winding each strand around a piece of cardboard cut to fit inside a plastic bin.
Displaying Christmas Cards
Hanging like ornaments from an arrangement of graceful branches, Christmas cards look wonderful.
Christmas Card Tree
Galvanized florist's bucket or other container
1. Branches containing berries will need some water. Branches without berries will not. Weigh down a bucket with some stones before inserting branches into it.
2. Choose any ribbon color scheme you like. For top-folding cards, punch a hole through the top of the card. You can do this with side-folding cards as well. If you still want to be able to read a side-folding card, punch a hole through the top left corner instead. You can also punch two holes at the top and bottom of the fold and thread ribbon through from top to bottom. Knot or tape the bottom, and make a loop at the top.
3. String a length of ribbon through the hole, and thread the ends through a bead or two. If a bead has a narrow opening, take about a foot of 26-gauge wire, and fold it in half. Stick the loop through the bead, thread your ribbon through the loop, and pull the ribbon back through the bead (it's just like a needle threader). Tie the ribbon ends in a knot or a bow. We used unfinished-wood craft-store beads, which we tossed in a little bowl of wood stain, then removed and dried. You can alternate using beads on some cards and a simple bow or knot on others. Arrange on tree.
Save scraps of holiday gift wrap, and put them to work in a festive greeting-card display.
1. Using a glue stick, coat 1 side of a clothespin; press firmly onto gift wrap.
2. Cut around clothespin with a craft knife to trim excess paper. Repeat on other side.
3. To hang a series of clothespins, clip them to a length of ribbon, and hang along a banister or above a mantel or entryway. Pin cards along ribbon as they arrive.
Loose candles can get damaged easily when stored in drawers. Use paper-towel tubes -- the perfect size and shape -- to protect them. Wrap a pair of candles in tissue paper, then slip the package into a cardboard tube. Label each tube with the candles' color and length for quick identification.
More from Martha Stewart Living:
15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook
19 Tips for Perfect Laundry Every Time
47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen
20 Super-Efficient, Super-Effective Ways to Clean All the Things
A new year is a great excuse to get organized all over.