Halloween, the second most popular holiday of the year, is fast approaching.  Lots of decorations are already up, party invitations have gone out, candy has been bought (and some already sampled!).   It won’t be long until the ghosts, pirates, ballerinas and vampires make their appearance at your front door.   And the adult costumes this year promise to be interesting as well, with retailers reporting political figures and pop celebrities sure to be prominently in the mix.

Basic Tips for Planning

Now is a good time to lay out a plan to maximize the value of everything you’ll be using for this fun holiday.  The idea is to keep as many of your decorations and costumes as possible to be used again next year.

Consider what type and amount of storage containers or bags you will need, and where they will go.  If you have taken things out of storage this year, remember that you’ll likely need to provide some extra storage for things you’ve added to your collection.

Plastic tubs are highly popular for their durability and stackable qualities.  Likewise, very clean boxes can be used.  Be sure that the weight and size of your boxes and bins don’t make them difficult to handle.  Decide if you prefer opaque bins for their advantage of blocking light, or clear bins that allow you to see contents.

If you choose cardboard boxes, be certain to carefully protect them from any potential water danger. And if you are storing your items in an area where boxes need to be moved frequently for access, you will need to be sure that fragile items are packaged with extra care.

Careful Handling is Key

Be certain to clean all decorations well before you wrap them for packing.  If you have saved original boxes that your delicate or breakable items came in, reuse them unless they have been damaged.   If any of your items (platters, plastic forks and spoons, plastic pumpkin totes) have been used for food or candy, they need to be impeccably clean before storing, to avoid becoming a target of hungry critters looking for a quick snack!

Your fabric items, especially costumes, store best if they are rolled up.  This prevents deep wrinkles and folds that can be hard to get out later.  Air out anything that may be damp (ideally in the sun), including costumes and masks, table linens, and outdoor decorations.

Take care to remove all traces of make-up from masks and costumes. This can damage fabric over time if left in place.  A damp cloth or sponge can be used if these items are not washable.  In any event, be certain everything is dry before it gets packed away for next year.

Where to Safely Store Your Halloween “Stuff”

Depending upon your location, remember that basements may be prone to dampness, leading to mold or mildew.  If this is the case, try to keep your storage containers off the floor.  Garages, another common option for storage, may be dusty, or become ant infested. Consider renting a self-storage unit for keeping seasonal items from cluttering your home or garage when not in use. Make sure all of your containers are tightly sealed.

Remember, too, that some items won’t lend themselves to being stored until next year. These may include” spider webs” or paper garlands, or anything exposed to rain or heavy dew.

Safety Tips

Be aware that some items, especially things like Indian corn, are a food source for rodents.  If you want to keep your Indian corn, seal it in a metal or heavy plastic container.  (A plastic bag alone is not a barrier to hungry rodents!)  Another approach is to seal it in multiple layers of aluminum foil, making sure to tightly seal each seam.

When keeping candles or lightweight plastic decorations, don’t forget that storing them in an attic or garage can expose them to enough heat for them to melt.  Candles can become a fire hazard.  These items should be placed in an area that is protected from extreme heat.

If your items run on battery power, be sure to remove the batteries before storage to prevent breakdown and leakage of battery material.

Handy Reminders for Fun Next Year

Before you take down your decorations, take photos of this year’s display.  This can make your decorating a lot easier next year.

If you store your Halloween items in the same area where other holiday or camping items are stored, why not buy a roll of orange duct tape to mark all of your Halloween containers?   Number each box, tub, or bag, and as you pack your items keep a list of everything in each numbered container.   Next year, your numbered list will ensure that you don’t overlook anything and will also help remind you what you have.  Your photos will remind you where it all goes!

One last really fun tip:  If you are a devotee of Halloween and enjoy adding new decorations to your existing collection, here’s your chance!  Most Halloween specialty stores and other retailers will have big markdown sales after October 31.  Plan to shop for bargains for next year, and remember to save some storage space for your new things, too.