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Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president and CEO of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®.

Q: Now that the holidays are over, we all face the daunting task of undoing all of our fabulous decorations. Any tips for homeowners?

A: Here are a few tips for taking down and safely storing your holiday decor.

Make it a family project. Everyone has a task that’s age-appropriate. One person is in charge of taking down ornaments, one the lights, etc. Start from the base of the tree and work your way up to prevent knocking ornaments off.

Try to work at or below shoulder height.

Practice safety with ladders. If you need to use a ladder, make sure its base is on a balanced surface and someone is holding it.

Broken ornaments are dangerous. If possible, remove broken ornaments while wearing cotton gloves, as the splintering can be very fine. Throw them into a box, not a garbage bag, as the broken shards can cut through a bag. Don’t let small children take these ornaments off the tree.

Use several medium-sized boxes so they aren’t too heavy to move. If possible, use a segmented cardboard box to store ornaments. If you don’t have these inserts, try wrapping each ornament in newspaper or bubble wrap.

If you have a real tree, place a large sheet at the base of the tree. Use a turkey baster to remove excess water in the stand, lay the tree on its side and remove the stand. Then carry or drag the tree to the curb and roll it off the sheet.

Needles need to be cleaned up thoroughly. Dangerous for children and pets, sweep floors, dump debris into the sheet the tree is wrapped in—or sweep everything into a dustpan and empty it into a garbage receptacle. You can also use a vacuum cleaner, carefully checking that there are no ornament hooks or other items lying around that could break the vacuum.

Lights should be tested per bulb, and dead bulbs discarded.

Store lights separately, with each strand in its own bag or small box along with extra bulbs and fuses.

If you have wreaths that need to be stored, invest in special wreath boxes, which can be found at the store or online for a reasonable price. Mark each box to keep them organized, or take a picture of the item stored inside and tape it to the box.

Although the box your artificial tree came in may seem like the perfect one to repack it in for storage, this isn’t the best idea for preservation. Over time, cardboard boxes begin to deteriorate, making them more prone to insect infestation. Try a tree bag or box to protect your tree.

Decorations such as candles can be stored in old socks. Don’t use plastic wrap, as it can stick to them. Store candles away from heat sources so that they don’t melt.

Label everything to make life easier next year. You can either number each box and keep a list of that inventory somewhere handy, or write on the box a list of each item inside.

Most of us don’t have an extra room or closet to turn into a makeshift wrapping paper and ribbon storage center. If you have minimal space, purchase a container that you can slide under the bed, and use it to store wrapping paper on the original roll if you can. If not, bits and pieces folded neatly are fine.

For more information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.

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