How many times has this scenario happened to you? It's the day after Halloween and you look around your yard and the inside of your house and think, "Now I've got to put this stuff all away". You're tired from the day's or even weeks of preparations, so you proceed to toss and cram all your Halloween decorations into boxes like a madman. Believe me, we've been there...
But think about it, you have a great deal of time and money invested in your Halloween decorations, so shouldn't they be protected for years to come? By taking the time to organize and pack them with care will save you time next year, giving you more time for Halloween decorating.
Packing Materials: Try to keep the original boxes when possible. Cardboard boxes work well for packing, but are susceptible to moisture and can deteriorate, particularly in humid climates. Plastic storage containers have the advantage that they come transparent so that you can also see what's inside. When stacking your boxes, try to make stacks of similar sized containers, starting with heavy boxes on bottom and working up to lighter boxes at the top.
Try to avoid using newspaper. The ink can rub off and cause damage. Tissue or butchers paper works well. Bubble wrap and foam chips are great for items that are breakable and need to be cushioned.
Labeling: Use large permanent markers to label Halloween storage boxes. Describe all of the pertinent information including the contents of the box, whether its for indoor or outdoor use, if its fragile, etc.
Halloween Lights: It's a lot easier to store them properly now, than opening the box to find a giant headache next year. Strings of Halloween lights should be wound around plastic holiday light spools or wrapped and tied with twist-ties and placed into separate plastic storage bags, otherwise you'll end up with one big, tangled ball of lights. Spare bulbs should be stored with the correct string of lights.
Tableware and Kitchenware: Everything you had on your serving table or tables such as Halloween tablecloths, napkins, utensils, plates, bowls, punch bowls, etc., should all be kept together in one or more well labeled boxes. Glass or fragile plastic items such as punch bowls should be wrapped in a protective material such as paper or bubble wrap for there protection. Cookie cutters, cake pans and the like should all be packaged together and labeled appropriately. Inexpensive paper napkins work well for separating dishes.
Crushable Decorations: Halloween wreaths should be stored in a box that will protect the wreath, but also to keep its shape. There are boxes made for storing wreaths, usually available during the Christmas season. Write "Do Not Crush" on the box. Foam tombstones, as with other flat decorations, should be packed together with bubble wrap between each one. Halloween collectables such as ceramic villages, toys and ornaments should be re-packed in there original boxes.
Halloween Costumes: Halloween costumes should definitely be stored in plastic storage containers to protect them from dust, moisture and pests. Wash or dry clean the costume, if needed, then carefully fold it just as you would when storing any other piece of clothing. We place ours individually in extra large plastic zip top storage bags for extra protection and label the bags with a black permanent marker.
You can also store Halloween costumes in plastic garment bags. Keep specific costumes and their accessories together by using smaller storage bags. Once you place them in the storage container, seal it by running packing tape all the way around the lip.
Halloween masks: Store them properly so that they can be used year after year. The worst thing you can do is just toss it in a box as the mask will not hold its natural shape. The best way we've found to store latex masks is on a Styrofoam wig stand. These are shaped like a human head and only cost a couple of dollars at beauty supply stores. Masks should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Exposure to sunlight or excessive temperatures for a prolonged period can cause the colors to fade and damage the latex, causing the mask to crack.
Halloween Candles: Didn't use all those creepy Halloween candles you bought this year? Well be careful how you store them for next year. First, store identical candles together in there own zip top plastic storage bags. Candles are temperature sensitive and if they get to warm will melt together into a blob. Store candles in a cool dry place.
Manuals and Instructions: Keep the original manuals and instruction sheets with the original items. If you can't do this, keep all manuals in a box marked "Halloween Manuals". Before we disassemble complex decorations we always take a few pictures of it from different angles with a digital camera. Next year we use the pictures as a visual guide for reassembly.
Taking the time to carefully wrap and store your spooky decorations will make putting them up next year easier and a lot more fun!