You have a beautiful artificial Christmas tree-well done you! But now what? What do you do with it for the 10-11 months a year it is not in use? (What I like to call the ‘Christmas Off-Season.’) You need to make sure it is properly stored. This is the best thing you can do for your tree. Why? To protect it from damage and keep it looking like new for years to come.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to take care of your tree and give it a little pampering in the Christmas Off-Season.
- Consider all of the storage locations in your home-the attic, garage, basement, an interior closet etc. You can store your tree almost anywhere as long as it is cool, dark and dry. The enemies to artificial trees are excessive heat and moisture of any kind. Keep this and the climate in your area in mind when selecting a storage location.
- Pro-tip to avoid a musty order consider adding a box of baking soda to your chosen container.
- Choose an out of the way location. You don’t want to be consistently moving the tree to access other items throughout the year. Keeping the tree out of the way will also prevent damage from getting knocked over or smashed by other items during constant shuffling etc. The best location is up off the ground and along the wall.
Now that you have an idea for where you might keep the tree, you need to decide which type of container will fit best in the space. Consider the following options:
- There are more options of this kind than in years past. This type of storage would allow you to keep your ornaments semi or permanently attached during the off season.
- See the Pros and Cons for Storing Your Tree with Decorations Attached below.
- This type of solution requires a specific storage space. It needs to be easily accessible. Who wants to lug a fully assembled tree up to the attic? That would be a difficult task.
- Keep space in mind. The location where this goes would need to be large enough to keep the branches fully extended.
- This is the easiest storage solution for most sizes of artificial trees and storage areas. Remove all the decorations, disassemble sections, and fold in branches. Gently add to bag(s) and zip.
- This is the most affordable storage solution. There is a great variety of bag types across all price points. There are even options with wheels!
- Bonus-if there is room in the bag you could add additional garlands etc.
- Pro-tip consider 2 or more smaller bags if you plan to move the bags to a high shelf or if weight is a concern. Store the largest section in its own bag and the two smaller sections together. This will make carrying the pieces much easier.
Storage Box Container
- Containers with hard plastic sides and lid.
- These tend to be a little higher in cost than storage bags. However, they provide additional protection from damage with harder sides.
Original Tree Box
- Not my recommended option as cardboard does not protect from moisture, damage, dust or curious insects.
- If needed, use the original box for one year and then invest in a different storage solution.
Move it to Storage Location
- Gently pack your tree in the chosen storage container. Carefully move it to your storage location.
- Sit back and relax knowing your tree will be in good shape next year.
Pros and Cons to Storing Your Tree with Decorations Attached
This is a relatively new trend that has been gaining in popularity the last few years. Although some of you may have been doing this for years. My mother has been covering small tabletop trees with kitchen trash bags for years. Bonus-they come out smelling lavender or citrus fresh from the scented trash bags!)
Tabletop trees are a whole different ball game from full size trees. If you are considering storing your full size tree with decorations all year, consider the following pros and cons.
- Saving time- set-up and storage would go very quickly each year.
- Convenience- spend time decorating once and enjoy it for years and years
- Less frustration-during the holiday season you will now have one less thing to do.
- Your tree will always look the same. (Some will like this idea-while others will feel this item should be listed on the cons list only)
- Lots of new varieties in storage options–bye bye trash bags!
- You don’t get to decorate the tree each year (This would be hard for me. Hanging the ornaments and decorations on the tree brings me so much joy.)
- Ornaments cannot be moved easily, depending on how they are attached. This could make it difficult to incorporate new ornaments.
- Less versatility for decorations- you keep the same decorations, in the same spots, of the tree year to year.
- If you choose to use glue or a similar binding agent to affix decorations to the tree you could cause permanent damage to the decoration or tree. Be cautious with heirlooms or memorable ornaments.
- Making permanent attachments to the tree will void most artificial tree warranties.
- Moving a full assembled tree to and from its storage location would be difficult, especially for larger varieties.
- Cleaning a fully decorated tree will pose a unique challenge, which is why storage is so important.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is storage so important?
Keeps your tree looking like new
Less discoloration- yellowing of white trees and flocking or loss of color for green varieties
Less damage-keeps your tree protected from falling boxes, getting knocked over or getting smashed. Storage bags and containers also protect from moisture and water.
Saves money because you won’t need to a buy a new tree due to damage or neglect
Saves time everything is together and ready to set-up at Christmas time
Where can I buy tree storage bags or containers?
Online via a quick Google search or your local big box retailer, home improvement store, or craft store. Almost anywhere that sells holiday decor will have options. Consider Hobby Lobby, WalMart, Lowes, Home Depot, At Home, Amazon etc.
Which storage containers or bags are best?
Check out our top recommendations at Best Artificial Christmas Tree Storage Containers 2021.
Where should I store my artificial tree?
Consider the attic, garage, basement, an interior closet etc. You can store your tree almost anywhere as long as it is cool, dark and dry. The enemies to artificial trees are excessive heat and moisture of any kind. Keep this and the climate in your area in mind when selecting a storage location.
If I have an unlit tree do I need to remove the lights before packing away my tree?
Yes, it is recommended to remove anything not permanently attached. If not, these items could shift and become tangled or damaged or damage other items. However if you have wrapped the branches tightly and have a natural break in strands between sections this could be possible. If you go this route I highly recommend a storage container or bag that is waterproof to protect the electrical components.
Can you add more lights to a pre-lit tree?
Yes! This is a great way to mix-up your look from year to year. Consider adding a fun shape or different color bulb.
How many lights do I need for an unlit tree?
This depends on the look or mood you are trying to achieve. A good general rule of thumb is 100 lights per vertical foot (a 5 foot tree would need 500 lights). For complete details, check out my article on how to Find the Perfect Number of Lights for Any Christmas Tree.
Are pre-lit trees safe?
Yes, pre-lit trees are safe. Artificial tree production has come a long way in recent years making prelit trees safer with cooler bulbs and better materials. Pro tip: Be sure your tree is UL approved/listed. This should be clearly listed on the packaging. This indicates the tree has been rated for safety. I do not recommend purchasing a pre-lit tree without this distinction.
How do I clean an artificial tree?
Cleaning an artificial tree isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Also keep in mind, it is unlikely that you will need to clean your artificial tree each year. (This is largely dependent on storage-it all comes back to storage). For step-by-step instructions see How to Clean Every Type of Artificial Christmas Tree.
How long do artificial trees last?
Artificial trees are generally designed to last about 10 years. However, each brand and variety will be different. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s website. Most artificial trees come with a warranty as well. Many are for 2-3 years and others can be as high as 10 years. Again your tree will last longer if you take care of it and treat it well-which is mainly storage!