For vintage decorations, damage is more easily avoided than reversed, so proper storage is critical. Choose a dry, dark spot, as humidity can harm the materials and light will cause the colours to fade. A compartmentalized container (DIY or store-bought) will help prevent breakage. Wrap each individual piece in acid-free tissue paper before putting it away. Make sure it fits snugly in its place: not too tight, not too loose. To make future holiday seasons a breeze, label each box.
If possible, avoid cleaning ornaments. Spending only a few weeks a year out in the open means they can go many Christmases between cleanings. Due to their delicate – and often glittery – nature, a light touch is essential (never apply water or soap!). Remove dust with a soft cloth; use a small round-tipped brush to get dirt out of nooks and crannies.
Embrace imperfections. Don’t try to touch up any chips with paint. Matching the colour exactly is nearly impossible.
Acid-free cardboard blocks out damaging ultraviolet light.
Archival 28-piece ornament storage box, The Container Store, $32.
The zipper on this polka-dotted vinyl box ensures all manner of dust stays out. Real Simple Holiday 64-piece ornament storage box, Bed Bath & Beyond, $18.
Keep track of contents with a set of three clear bins that stack and lock together. Stack & Carry 36-piece ornament storage box, Walmart, $15.
Love the vintage appeal of passed-down decorations but not the maintenance they require? Opt for reproductions. Christopher Radko has a line inspired by popular Shiny-Brite pieces from the 1940s and ’50s, Hudson Bay, $30 per 9-piece set.