More the norm than the exception is a disorganized mess as a result of a shoddy, hasty repacking job from the year prior.

Scented candles waft spruce or cinnamon aromas through the home. A Christmas playlist sets the mood. And family members joyfully choose ornaments, nutcrackers and other decorations from perfectly packed boxes.

Reality, however, is far from Norman Rockwellian. More the norm than the exception is a disorganized mess as a result of a shoddy, hasty repacking job from the year prior.

Ruthann Betz-Essinger, president of Just Organized in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, asserts how packing properly results in less holiday stress and chaos. While the general warm and fuzzy holiday feelings may have dissipated when it is time to repack décor, Betz-Essinger offers four initial organization tips to instill a feel-good spirit:

 We hope you love the items below as much as we did! GateHouse Media may collect a share of sales from links on this page.

1. Group holiday items into categories, such as “outdoor,” “indoor” and “tree.” 

2. Obtain appropriate containers, ones specially made for ornaments, wreaths, gift wrap and artificial trees. Clear, heavy-duty plastic storage containers work as well; Betz-Essinger points out the importance of being able to see what is inside.
3. Label containers, and make a master list of all the containers and their general contents.
4. Number containers in order of intended use. One of the first to bring out the following year, for example, might be the lights and tree stand and other accessories, suggests Betz-Essinger.

Make notes regarding what might be needed for the following year: additional lights, a better tree stand, more red ornaments or a different tree topper, for example.

A big part of packing properly is to purge, said Birmingham, Alabama, space designer and organizer Kim McBrayer. Two straightforward tips are:
- “Empty the bins - while your home is decorated … donate or discard whatever you have not used. Place sentimental items in a special place for keepsakes.”
- “Analyze the traditions - start new ones and toss out the ones nobody enjoyed.”

Plan to donate anything not broken, said Betz-Essinger. Shelters, charity thrift stores, nursing homes and other groups may welcome decorative Christmas cheer for the following year.