5 Steps for Safely Storing Your Artificial Christmas Tree

Rudolph shows off a new, color-changing tree

Rudolph is showing you our new tree that can change from multicolored to all-white lights!

We know that most of you, like the elves here at Christmas Place, plan to keep your Christmas trees up all year round. ;)  For those of you out there who DO happen to take your trees down sometime after Christmas (we don’t judge!), here are 5 simple steps you can follow to keep your tree looking fresh and new every time you release it from confinement display and decorate it for the enjoyment of all who enter your home.

Artificial Christmas trees are durable by design, and depending on the model you choose, can be quite an investment.  Taking the time to properly store away your tree each year will help to retain its original shape, style, and luster, and achieve the long life you expect from your Christmas tree.

After you have removed all the decorations, but before you unplug the lights, follow these 5 easy steps to ensure the maximum lifetime value of your tree.

General Hints:

  • A pair of lightweight gloves will save wear and tear on your hands.
  • Use brightly-colored tape or string to mark non-working lights for repair or replacement.
  • A Light Keeper Pro gun will be a help with non-working bulbs.
  • Strong twine or cloth-covered bungee cords (non-rubber) will help save storage space.

1.  Replace Broken or Burned-Out Bulbs

How long?  About 15-20 minutes for a 7.5′ foot Christmas tree.

What?  The goal is to identify and replace any burned-out bulbs.  Turn on the tree lights.  Starting at the top, trace the light strand and make sure each bulb is functioning.  If you find a non-working bulb, replace it bulb.  If you run out of replacement bulbs, mark the non-working bulb with brightly color string or tape for replacement when you get more bulbs.

A handy tool to try before replacing bulbs or light strands is the Light Keeper Pro.  Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to see if you can re-boot or repair any non-working bulbs or strands before you start replacing them on the tree.  This could save you a lot of time and money.

Why?  It is important to the life of your light strands to quickly locate and repair/replace bulbs which are not working. The more bulbs not working on a light strand, the more electricity the working bulbs will consume and output.  For example, if you have a 50 light set, each bulb consumes 1/50th of the electricity in the string.  If 10 bulbs are not working, the 40 bulbs which are working are forced to take 20% more electricity.  If this continues for a long period of time, the light strand may be permanently damaged.  The lights will stop working, and the individual bulbs may take on a brown tinge from over-use.  This type of damage is not typically covered under a tree warranty.

2.  Un-Fluff Your Tree

How Long?  About 10-15 minutes for a 7.5′ Christmas tree.

What?  Some of today’s modern tree manufacturing styles do not require compression.  For those that do, the manufacturer’s information should include “fluffing” instructions, and if the tree must be fluffed for display, then it can be “un-fluffed.”  The goal is to compress the branches of the tree in an orderly fashion to preserve the lights, needles and branches.  Starting at the outer-most, top branch layer of the tree, carefully fold the smallest branches in and up towards each other and the central trunk.  Work your way around the top layer, moving down through each row of branches in similar fashion, one section at a time, until the entire tree is compressed.

Why?  Trying to put the tree back into its storage box or bag without un-fluffing or compressing the tree will be almost impossible.  Folding the individual branches and layers into the trunk compresses the tree much more efficiently, allowing a better fit into a smaller space; and the needles, branches, and lights are much less likely to be damaged while in transit and storage.

3.  Disassemble Your Tree

How Long?  About 10-15 minutes for a 7.5′ Christmas tree.

What?  Starting from the top, remove each section of the tree, one at a time.  As you work, gently continue to press the branches toward the center trunk.  Lay each section aside, waiting to box/bag the sections until all are separated.  Remove the tree stand from the last section, and carefully secure all its parts together for next use!

It’s a good idea to wrap the sections with twine or bungee cord as you go, both to further compress the tree and to preserve the branches from any extra stress during handling.  Take care not to bind the sections too tightly, however.

Caution:  Make sure that, as you fold up any hinged branches, light bulbs or wires do not get caught or pinched in the hinges.  If any branches do not easily fold up, go over them manually to safely move away any parts that may be interfering with the hinge mechanism.

4.  Place Your Tree in a Bag and/or Box

Place the tree in a box or Christmas tree storage bag for off-season storage.  Should you keep your tree in the original box or in a storage bag?  The best answer is…both!  Place your tree in a storage bag, then put the bag in the original tree box.  The tree box is generally easy to identify and transport to storage, while the tree bag inside will provide additional protection against humidity, dust, and temperature fluctuations.

How Long?  About 10-15 minutes for a 7.5′ Christmas tree.

What?  Place the bottom tree section into the bag first.  Position this section so the sharp end of the trunk, if it has one, is in the middle of the bag, and the non-pointed end is at one end of the bag.  Position the middle section so that the widest part of the section is at the other end of the bag.  Position all other sections and the tree stand in the middle of the bag, evenly distributing the volume and weight as much as possible.

5.  Storing Your Tree

Safe storage depends to varying degrees on the style of tree.  A typical green artificial tree will not be affected by average swings in temperature or humidity levels, though extremes should always be avoided.  Temperatures between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit are generally considered safe for most average trees.  Low humidity is always best, too.  If your tree has extra embellishments such as cones or berries, be sure to give attention to the manufacturer’s guidelines for temperature and humidity.

Frosted, flocked or white Christmas trees are particularly sensitive to extreme temperatures and humidity.  These types of trees quickly discolor in hot and humid storage conditions.  Give extra thought and care when handling such trees; they will survive best and give you the longest life when stored in a controlled environment.

Secure your tree from potential animal intrusions – birds and rodents love to make their homes in artificial Christmas trees.

We know you want to protect the investment you have made in the Christmas tree that is the focal point of your holiday decorating and celebrations.  Following these 5 steps for securing and storing your artificial tree between uses will give your tree the best chance for a long and beautiful life.  We hope you’ll be making cherished memories to share at Christmas and throughout the year – for many years to come!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Our decorators have already selected the tree themes we’ll be displaying for Christmas 2015, and we can’t wait to show them to you as the decorations start to come in next year!  Stay tuned for more pictures and information!

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