Christmas Ornament Storage: Protect Your Heirlooms

Mar 31, 2023 / Ann Griffith

Storing fragile glass Christmas ornaments isn’t complicated. But do it wrong and you could damage your favorite holiday heirlooms so that spots and peeling occur, like in the photos below.

Two vintage Christmas ornaments damaged by moisture

Often these days, our instinct is to put anything special in a plastic box before throwing it out of the house. We assume that will keep our stuff safe. But for fragile vintage ornaments and many other items, plastic is not a good idea because it can actually trap small amounts of existing moisture inside the box.

When temperatures change, as they do to an extreme degree in many basements, attics and garages, condensation settles on the ornaments, inside and out. When the moisture dries again it can cause the paint to flake off or to spot.

vintage Christmas ornament damaged by moisture

Instead, consider moving something else out of the house to make room for at least a few of your favorite, fragile ornaments in your home. Store the ornaments in cardboard or fabric boxes that are strong enough to protect them from pressure, if you are stacking the boxes. Note that modern plastic balls, wreaths, lights and other items require less care and can easily be stored where most convenient.

We talked to the folks at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, located in suburban Michigan, aka ” The World’s Largest Christmas Store”;, for advice and some information on the types of boxes out there that these experts felt would preserve ornaments. Like major container storage chains, Bronner’s offers cardboard boxes. You could even go with something made of acid-free cardboard or a fancier fabric box. Or you could store in the original box, perhaps inserted into a stronger box. Both images below are from Bronner’s.

Christmas ornament storage box cardboard green exterior white interior red fabric Christmas ornament storage box

Wrap the ornaments in tissue to pad and protect them. Or use divided boxes. Place ornaments with the opening and cap down. Some people recommend removing the metal hooks every year to prevent scratching, but it might be easier to just quickly separate the hooks and the ornaments when you wrap them. You can add packets of silica, but replace every few months or bake in the oven at a low temperature to dry them out, if the packs aren’t plastic.

Then store in a dry, dark spot in your house. Place the ornaments where the temperature in your home is most consistent. If you do have ornaments that are damaged already, don’t fret or get rid of them, unless you send them our way. Remember that signs of aging can be part of the charm of something that’s old, especially on a traditional tree. Enjoy. Happy holidays!

vintage Christmas ornaments laid out on a table

How do you store ornaments? What are your favorites? Please share!

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by Ann Griffith

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