The Archive Lady: Preserving and Archiving Christmas
Kay in Nevada asks: “I have followed your column since Day One and your advice, as always, been great, so I knew I needed to ask The Archive Lady this particular question. Christmas 2018 is over. As I get ready to pack up all my Christmas stuff, should I be doing something different to preserve my Christmas family heirlooms like handmade ornaments and wreaths?”
I love this question and I am so glad it showed up in my e-mail the day after Christmas.
Like most of us, Kay has family heirlooms among her Christmas decorations. We bring them out once a year to enjoy and remember those that made them or gave them to us. When it’s time to pack them back up, are we treating these items like we do our precious family photographs and documents? We should be!
Kay mentioned that there are handmade ornaments in her collection of Christmas stuff. I have many of these that were made by my daughter as she grew up and now I have a new grandson who will add to the collection. I also have ornaments that were given to me from family members that have special meaning and that I want to preserve for years to come.
To preserve Christmas tree ornaments all you need is archival tissue paper and a wonderful special box made by Gaylord Archival to properly store your heirloom ornaments. The archival tissue paper comes as buffered or unbuffered; for this project Kay should use the buffered archival tissue paper. See my previous column about what the difference between these two types of tissue paper HERE.
Gaylord Archival has a great archival box especially for ornaments that you can find HERE. This box allows you to put each individual ornament in its own compartment so that it does not knock around in the storage box and hit other ornaments and break.
Wrap each ornament in a piece of archival tissue paper and place it in the archival box in its own compartment. It should fit fairly snug so that it doesn’t move around and get damaged. Then you can put the entire box of wrapped ornaments in a larger plastic container for your normal storage.
If you have handmade Christmas wreaths that you would like to preserve from year to year like Kay has, there is an archival box for those too. Again, you will need archival tissue paper and an archival box. Loosely wrap the wreath in the tissue paper and lay in the specially made archival box for Christmas wreaths by Gaylord Archival found HERE. Once the wreath is in the archival box it’s then safe to put into a storage container with the other Christmas items.
One Christmas item that we all receive, and about which I get many questions, are Christmas cards. I confess that I have kept every Christmas and greeting card that I have received for the past 30 years. I even have a few cards from my ancestors that I inherited in boxes of documents and photographs. They are a true treasure and should also be preserved. I actually wrote a column about Preserving Old Christmas Cards on Abundant Genealogy and you can read it HERE.
So, as you are taking down the Christmas tree and packing up all the Christmas stuff, be sure to take special care with those items that are handmade by family and friends or that have special meaning to you. Use archival materials to protect these items and remember to store them in a cool, dark and dry place. You will be glad you took the time to preserve those things that help us to remember our family and friends at Christmas.
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Melissa Barker lives in Tennessee Ridge, Tennessee. She is the Houston County (TN) Archivist and a Professional Genealogist. She writes the blog, A Genealogist in the Archives, and has been researching her own family for over 26 years. She lectures, teaches and writes about researching in archives and records preservation.
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