The best way to pack Christmas away for next year

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Christmas is a wonderful time of the year but who hasn't regretted, just a little bit, putting up all those sparkling strings of lights, the swags of greenery, delicate baubles and glass and that huge, luxurious tree? When it comes to packing it all away again, and faced with a tangle of lights and a tree that refuses to fit back in its box, it's perhaps time to rethink the whole process.

Preparation

The key to make the whole laborious task easier is preparation. Make sure you have plenty of packing materials for the delicate items, boxes (preferably stacking) to pack them in and tape to seal boxes.

Stuffing everything into a carrier bag and throwing in the back of the cupboard gets the job done in half the time but you could end up with broken ornaments, tangled tinsel and a trussed tree, an absolute nightmare to sort out the following year.

Sort the ornaments into groups of colour or style. Wrap the fragile ones individually in bubble wrap or tissue and place in a box, use a cardboard divider to separate groups.

Writing the contents on the outside also makes it easier to identify what's what next year. Finally, tape the box shut.

The lights need to be untangled and it doesn't matter how careful you are trying to fold them by hand, they are going to be a knotty mess by next year. Invest in a Christmas lights storage reel (a version of the sort of thing used for fishing line or hosepipe) which you can find online. This will keep them tangle-free and easier to put up again the next year.

The tree is usually the focal point for Christmas and although real fir trees look fantastic and smell gorgeous, unless you can get a rooted one to plant in the garden afterwards, it is a bit of a waste.

Artificial trees can look just like the real thing and, with care, will last year after year. However they are notoriously difficult to get back in the box they were purchased in. The solution is to buy a tree storage bag online; with a zip and handles, it couldn't be easier!