life in a tiny apartment.

December 10, 2014

storing holiday decorations

Tip #115: Downsize holiday decor.

December in New York practically begs for more light. When it gets dark by 4:00 in the afternoon and when the sky’s still pitch black when you wake up in the morning, it doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Jewish, pagan, or utterly agnostic, adding a little bit of light to a dark apartment is a thing to try. And the good news is, a string of twinkle lights takes up hardly any room at all.

But if you want to add something even more festive to these dark days? If you want to jolly up the room with trimmings that verily shout the tidings of the season—or welcome in the woodland sprites? I think the best route is to add things that can be tossed guilt-free, come January: oranges, pomegranates, pine boughs, juniper branches, tiny trees, pinecones, and garlands of popcorn and cranberries.

All of the holiday decorations that I store fit into a single shoe box. Inside there are a few strings of lights, a set of antique German candle clips, and a few favorite ornaments tucked in for safe keeping. Everything else that I use to decorate are things that I’ll use up over the course of the season (bayberry tapers!) or things I can throw away at the end of the season without worrying that they’ll end up in a landfill.

Over the weekend, we bought our first Christmas tree since moving to Brooklyn and decked the windowsills with foraged greenery I’d collected the woods and beach paths near my mom and dad’s house at Thanksgiving. Everything’s merry and bright, just simply so.
storing holiday decorations PS. I’ve found I could fit more into my box by keeping everything loose and throwing away the original packaging. I wind my string of lights carefully around a piece of folded cardboard and attach a luggage tag to remind me where to start unravelling. And these smaller lights on copper string, fold up to be truly teeny, tiny. (You can get your own, here.)

PPS. We decided to go ornament-free on the tree this year. Instead we added one string of lights with tiny bulbs and one string with larger ones. I love how the two sizes make it look all twinkly.

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  • Reply Gramma December 10, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    As I frantically haul boxes of ornaments, etc up the basement steps to decorate the tree…a tree that my two fat kitties who think they're dogs stand waiting for me to finish…so during the night they can chew on the ribbon and the branches….I read your post and think 'what a fresh, lovely way to celebrate Christmas!'. Why in the world am I putting myself through all this torture?…your decorating is beautiful, simple and says more about the joy of Christmas than my commercial decorations ever will. Thank you for putting this season of decorating in perspective.

  • Reply Jill Sarah December 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Great approach! I have a few huge bins of decorations even though my apartment is super tiny. What I do every Christmas when I haul them out is fill those bins back up with my everyday non-holiday decor. Keeps things from looking way two cluttered (though that's kinda my aesthetic, mostly unintentionally).

  • Reply Kari December 10, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Because of the small size of our house, we always buy a tree, not much bigger than yours, that we put on a table. We started doing that to keep it away from the hands of the kids when they were little, but we kept it that way because we like the European look and because it fits the size of our living room better. It also means the presents can go under the table and not take up space spreading all over the floor. Your place looks so beautiful. I always want to leave the tree with just the lights on, but am always overruled by my husband and kids.

  • Reply Hannah S December 10, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    I have been really enjoying seeing more trees with minimal decoration. These trees are so beautiful on their own that just a few lights or ornaments can be more then sufficient.
    We cant fit a big tree in our apartment so we have also started just buying a little tree that can just sit on the windowsill, bring a little holiday spirit but not take up too much room.
    Happy holidays!

  • Reply Neurotic Workaholic December 11, 2014 at 1:59 am

    I miss having a Christmas tree; decorating the tree was one of my favorite things to do when I was a kid. I tried having one of those fake miniature trees in my apartment a few years ago, but I couldn't put a lot of decorations on it because it was too small. So your idea of fewer decorations is a really good one.

  • Reply Yelle December 11, 2014 at 2:00 am

    i love real trees – even if they are tiny for a tiny space they are so worth it!

  • Reply ieva December 11, 2014 at 7:23 am

    we bake gingerbread cookies for decorating the tree… and by the 1st of january there's only string of lights left on our christmas tree 🙂

  • Reply tornyiildiko December 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I love the idea to light the small lights before Xmas Eve, as a spiritual anticipation and as a practical source of light too! this year I won't wait with everything till the 24th, the lights will be put out this weekend! thx 🙂

    we have a tiny cypress tree in a pot, it's half a meter "tall", and each year when Xmas comes: we just just hang a few small stars cut out from dried orange peel on it and we put the small lights, candles and a few glittery angels around its snow white pot.(we had a small indoor pine tree for a decade before this little light green plant-soul). that way our beloved Xmas tree goes on living after Xmas (and with us: it's part of the family 🙂 ), + no waste of anykind whatsoever is produced.

  • Reply catie December 12, 2014 at 5:18 am

    oh, those gorgeous antique german candle clips ~ would love to see them in use.
    i am loving the idea above by tornyiildiko to cut stars out of orange peel ♥

    • Reply tornyiildiko December 12, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      thx <3
      in case you might be interested in how to best do it (in my opinion of course 🙂 ) :
      cut out the stars with a knife on cutting board from the peelings (they will look lovely even if not end up symmetrical), pierce +pull thru a string for the hanging purpose, put them with the strings in them scattered between 2 sheets of any kind of paper , and finally: press them under some heavy stuff such as a dictionary… for a week or so, till they dry out) it can be done quick 🙂

  • Reply Alli December 15, 2014 at 4:44 am

    The cardboard idea for storing lights is fantastic – so simple, yet I never thought of it! I will definitely be storing lights that way in the future, cheers x

  • Reply Sara January 27, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    This is such a great idea for a series; I'm actually a bit envious now! I have a million of these sorts of ideas and tips squirreled away in my brain, and never thought to share them. Looking forward to catching up, & reading more in future 🙂

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