Friday, August 17, 2012

Before Disaster Strikes: Protect Your Decorations

Ornaments bought for a white tree
I bought my first boxes of ornaments in 1984. As one who relishes the Christmas season, naturally I’ve collected ornaments, garland, knick-knacks and other shiny and colorful decorations every year since then, in additional to six artificial trees of various sizes and colors, so you can just imagine the amount of Christmas stuff I have to store! I have a holiday storage room in the basement, partially set under the stairs but larger than just that space. Some items are stored in plastic boxes with lids, but other items were stashed in cardboard boxes with their contents written on the sides along with some creative doodles to illustrate the category of contents. A set of shelves and some nails in the wall afforded me some extra storage space, but most things are stacked on the floor. And they were safe...until this summer.

In June I had the first flood ever in my basement. It’s not a leaky place. I love it so much down there that when I moved in, I put my bedroom suite down there and have been quite happy. The problem came not from rains but from my combo furnace/central air unit located on the other side of the wall, in the unfinished side. The drain pipe got clogged, and water ran over the drip pan and seeped everywhere—including into that storage closet. 

The decorations in the plastic boxes were safe, but my cardboard boxes got wet. A friend came over and helped me empty out those boxes to save the contents. Fortunately, our quick response prevented anything from being ruined. 

I learned my lesson. I bought some large plastic containers with lids to replace the cardboard boxes and packed up the now-dry decorations in those. No more cardboard storage for me!

Today I discovered more water. I don’t know what the HVAC man did the last time he was here, but apparently it wasn’t enough! While I’m unhappy to have a stream across the concrete floor and into the storage room, I’m relieved that 1) I discovered it before it could really get into the carpet on the finished side of the wall, and 2) I don’t have to worry about my decorations, some of which are family heirlooms. 

Are your Christmas things stored in a safe place, away from possible rodent or water damage? If not, take my advice and make plans to upgrade your storage, the sooner the better. You DON’T want to arrive at the holiday season and discover that your cherished decorations have been damaged or ruined. Some things, like your children's handmade ornaments and your mother’s wood and plaster nativity set, can’t be replaced.


  1. Such a good reminder! I got out my tree one year (stored in its original box) only to find tons of mouse droppings. GROSS! Plastic tubs with the lids on are the only way to go!

  2. Ours are stored in the attic, which gets very HOT in Florida, even with the ventilation fan up there. Our decorations are all in plastic tubs, and have been for years. Plastic tubs don't protect from heat damage,though, so I have lost some things to heat. We don't have another option, unfortunately. Our house has no other storage space. Glad you precious ornaments are safe from the water now!

  3. I keep most of my decorations under the bed - what a mess I'd have if the bed were to collapse!!

  4. All of my decorations are stored in cardboard boxes:-( We have them in the attic area of our garage and so far so good but I would hate to see our luck run out! The plastic storage containers are usually pretty affordable (Target runs sales on them a few times a year) and just the peace of mind they give you that your decorations are stored safely is worth the money!


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