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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

65 IHeart: Our Holiday Storage

Is everyone still alive after the holiday craze?  The New Year has officially begun and it's time to regain control of our schedules and normal lifestyles again.  Although, I still have a holiday hangover, I couldn't wait to get back into the organizing swing of things!

We had a total of FOUR Christmas's this year, all away from home so if you count our own family one with the kids at home, it was really five!  I think that is a Jones family record, I am tired just typing about it {you can catch up on some of our Christmas highlights here}.

Yesterday, I packed up all of the holiday decor.  It was bittersweet, it always adds so much color and life and happiness, yet at the same time, it's nice to get back to some sort of normal around here.


I had shared a couple of years back how we handle storing all of our holiday decorations:


Fairly organized, yes.  However, all those bins take up a ton of space.  And this year I was so frustrated with myself because even though I had labeled the bins, I still had to pull one off of the other to open the lid and dig inside to see if what I wanted was there {sometimes yes, sometimes no}.  That's the problem with bins that are not see through.  Plus, our Christmas lights were a giant tangled mess which made the entire processing of decorating the tree take about triple the time.

I was determined to do better this year, so that next Christmas things go a little smoother.  Plus, I have a goal to better utilize our utility storage room {which I will show you once our lower level remodel is done and all of our excess supplies are out}, which meant condensing our holiday storage the best that I could.

So I started from scratch this year.  I took everything off of the tree and our shelving display and created giant piles in our living room.  Then, I gave myself a pat on the back for my ability to get everything stored into two bins instead of three!  It's OK to do some super smiling when you have organizing success!


After some donating and tossing, I was able to keep only what we use and love, yet I still have about as much or more decor than the last time I posted about it.  I must just be getting smarter with age... lol.

So how did I do it?  Well, I used Ziploc bags for just about EVERYTHING.  They take up far less room than the bulky plastic boxes that most of the decorations originally came in.


I find that the bags from IKEA are my favorite for storage.  They last longer and are larger than the Ziploc brand bags:


This bin has so many items in it such as shatterproof ornaments, beads, cones, ribbon, a cookie plate, holiday countdown, printables, etc... The storage bags really made things fit perfectly and maximized the space inside the bin.

I use a disposable food storage container for all of the little things, like ornament hooks and extra Christmas light bulbs:


And a manila folder to hold all of my printables and banners:


The lower bin is full of linens at the bottom, and all of our twinkling lights at the top:


Thanks to the www, I found that you can save space and tangles by wrapping individual strands of lights around objects, like coffee cans or cardboard pieces!  So we cut up a spare box leftover from Christmas and had fantastic space saving, untangled light storage!


It worked like a charm!

We keep all of our fragile ornaments and special ornaments made by the kids inside the stacking ornament bins.  We have been doing that for years and nothing has broken so we are not changing a good thing!


Now because I have two bins that look the same with tons of different items inside, I decided to get creative with the labeling process.

I started out by folding a piece of decorative cardstock in half, and laminating it into a pouch {like I did with my coupon envelopes}:


After attaching the pouches to the sides of the bins with a piece of Velcro, I am able to write a list of the bin contents and tuck it right into the pouch!


Now, since I can't see all of the contents through the bin, I can just pull out the list and know everything that is inside!


And if things ever change, I just cross stuff off, add new things to the bottom, and we are good to go!


In fact, I love this idea SO much, that I have more storage bins for other items that I will be doing this to in the future as I continue on my organizing quest!  The thought of no more unstacking, peeking inside, and re-stacking, makes me H A P P Y!


Feels good to have my first of many 2012 organizing projects checked off of the list!

Anyone else find new holiday storage ways this year, that left you with a big ol' grin?  How many Christmas's did you attend?  Anyone have me beat?

65 comments:

  1. I love your site! My hubby & I are on the same page now with organizing our home. Your site is helping alot. We took our Christmas deco down Sunday afternoon & went through everything. One thing a have a question about what do you do with your Christmas cards that you recieved this year?

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    1. Here is an idea I wrote about on what to do with Christmas cards ...
      http://morethana-mom.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-to-do-with-christmas-cards-after.html

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  2. Way to go, Jen! I love the idea of listing stuff on the outside; this year I did most of the work taking down the tree (I did the lights and garland around cardboard too!) but some re-organizing is definitely in order before next year...thanks for some new ideas!

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  3. I love the tub labels. I need to get on that so that I'm not rummaging through each "Christmas" labeled bin for the pine scented candles. :)

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  4. Last year I finally got smart and stored my decorations in bins by room. It made it so easy to decorate this year! I still have lots of bins and some of them are huge! I just can't put my Willow Tree Nativity in anything but the boxes. I do like the idea of putting stuff in plastic baggies instead of boxes if possible to make more space. I will be making a list of everything in my bins this year to as I put things away for inventory purposes.

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  5. I love the envelope idea(s). This year I attached an "order of events" list to my containers. I wanted to be able to decorate in "order" next year rather than getting everything out with 3 pairs of tiny hands help out. Hopefully, this Christmas will save me time from rearranging and having half decorated spots.

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  6. I've found that sock organizers plus a sweater-sized gift box work perfectly together to inexpensively organize delicate ornaments. So far it's survived 3 moves without a single broken ornament. All the compartments are filled with shredded paper. I've got a box for delicate, not so delicate, and not delicate ornaments so I know which boxes my daughter can help with. All my ornaments fit in a plastic tote. I bought new ones this year that are clear with red tops so I immediately know what they contain without having to label. I have 3 other totes that contain lights and other decorations. I hope to pare down a bit but for now I'm happy with how it's organized. We alternate between real and fake trees so we need a bit more than usual. I also picked up a hard-sided wreath box that I'll use to store all my wreaths. You'd think with the popularity of seasonal wreaths someone would sell non-Christmas wreath boxes but I haven't found one yet.

    We only had 2 Christmases this year but next year we'll have our usual 3.

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  7. Love it! I used the empty tubes from my wrapping paper this year to store the lights. I cut them into 3rds (about the size of a paper towel roll) and stuck the plug into one end of the roll, rolled the lights around the tube and tucked the other end of the plug into the opposite end of the roll. Works BEAUTIFULLY. No untangling lights next year!

    Love the bin ideas... I may have to tackle that this weekend. I like that they are uniform in color - I would love to have a single color for Christmas, one for fall/halloween, one for summer decor, etc...

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  8. Love these ideas, especially putting the ornaments in baggies and wrapping the lights around cardboard. So simple, but I never thought of it. Thanks, as always, for your wonderful ideas and inspirations. Happy New Year!!

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  9. So glad to have come across this today! I have yet to tackle packing up Christmas (waiting until the weekend), and this year I'm determined to not just shove everything in a bin all willy nilly.

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  10. How funny. We have the same, what I like to call, Tiffany blue, bins for putting away our Christmas decor. I do plastic bags as well but had no idea Ikea had great ones. Great to know. I love the way you did the labels. Super creative how they pull out. Doesn't it feel good to put it all away!

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  11. I used to wrap my lights on cardboard but found it didn't work well for me, especially with strands that are longer than 100. I now take the time to bundle them with rubber bands similar to how they come in the packages. My biggest problem is that I have 10 bins of Christmas decor, with two trees, and lots of garlands I put up it takes up a lot of room. Add to that the fact that we have been trying to move and sell our home for the past two Christmases everything gets packed up for a move not just storage. I am hoping this is the last year I have to do that and we will finally sell this place in 2012! I won't take down our decorations until after Epiphany, but am all ready thinking about how to pack them better and what to get rid of that I haven't used. I love the idea of your pocket labels, I just hate digging through all of the bins looking for the things that need to go up first and I have clear bins. This would solve that problem, great idea!

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  12. I love your blog and just wanted to let you know that I am going to be using some of your ideas to start my year out right. The first one is going to be creating my family binder. I will send you pictures once I am done. Thank You

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  13. That's it. You're officially a genius.

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  14. You did an amazing job organizing! I love the idea of including the content inside of each bin.

    ~Mrs. Delightful
    Ourdelightfulhome.blogspot.com

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  15. That is wonderful!! When we put our decorations out, I had a plan to reorganize and purge when we take them down. Alas, that will have to wait, as I went back to work today, and the hubby is home undecorating :). I guess there's always next year!

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  16. Wrapping lights around cardboard is my favorite trick for storing lights. It makes life so much easier when it's time to out them up again.

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  17. Thanks for the tip on the ikea bags. I live a few hours from the nearest ikea but I love storing things in ziploc baggy's so it is on the ikea shopping list....
    We use the cardboard idea for our glittery garland that gets tangled up every year. I secure each end to the boards with paperclips. This was the first year I got to pull them out and they were all nice and neat which made decorating the tree so much more enjoyable. I have to try with the lights this year since they are all new. Ours always die by the end of the season, anyone have a recommendation for some good long lasting white lights?

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  18. What a great job! I haven't put mine away yet, and this gives me some good ideas, thanks!

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  19. I love your suggestions of Ziploc bags. You are a Genius! I'm going to give this a try tonight and see how it goes.

    -Tiara
    tiarasglitz.blogspot.com

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  20. Wow, I still can't believe you fit all that stuff in just 2 bins though!

    We have recently pared down our Christmas stuff and organized our bins by "type" (ie. Christmas tree, Christmas lights, Christmas snowmen, Christmas decor, etc.) I had put temporary labels on everything, but am excited that when we put away our Christmas stuff, I'll be able to put on permanent ones with my NEW LABEL MAKER I got for Christmas! Woot!

    We too, wrapped our outdoor Christmas lights around pieces of cardboard this year. I hope it will work okay with the icicle lights we have.

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  21. I used to use the canvas bins for storing ornaments however, I found I was chasing them around more than anything. So I ditch that last year and bought a plastic ornament organizer. This year I changed my tree theme so now I'm stuck with two sets of tree decorations. I kept the boxes front he new ornaments to store them in. Seemed to work great. My OCD takes over and I have to have all my seasonal decorations color coded. So instead of writing each season on them I just know that black is Halloween, blue is Easter(Spring), orange is thanksgiving/fall, red/green is Christmas, etc.

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  22. Awesome idea with the laminating! I am going to do this for some of my excess paper filing that doesn't go into my binders.

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  23. For our Christmas lights, we cut holders out of plywood. About 4-6 inches across and about 9 inches long. Cut "V" notches in each end and you're set! With the notch the lights won't slide off and it is handy to hold when you put the lights up.

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  24. I wrap my lights on the flattened box that they come in! Isn't just super simple!? =)

    I went to six places in total for "Christmas" - most of them were very low key though.

    Love the start to the new year!

    Sending you Sunshine,

    Rachael @ You Me and Natalie

    www.youmeandnatalie.blogspot.com

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  25. This post just made me want to take a leave of absence at work and get with the program. My lamintaor is on its way and I feel like I am going to lose sleep once it arrives, I can't wait. THANK YOU!!!

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  26. We have been married 39 years,,,and I'm sure at some point we, too, only had 2 bins! We have 18 Christmas bins. I have them in a spreadsheet and they are numbered. On the spreadsheet each number has a description: "Snowmen for LR bay window and end tables"/"Santas for mantle and DR windowsills"
    I also take a picture of how I decorated the specific areas of what is in the bin. I am now retired, and even though I am not in any rust to decorate or de-decorate, it really does help!

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  27. This may seem like a silly question but how do you laminate the pouch and still have an opening

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  28. We normally have 4 Christmas's (and every other holiday), our family, my husband's family, my Mom's side and my Dad's side. That gets so tiring though so the past few years we've calmed down and skipped one or two get togethers each holiday. As for decorations I got rid of as much I could bare to part with while decorating 9which turned out to be a whole bins worth. After Christmas I was so tired of pin needles I was in a rush to undecorate and I just put most stuff however it fit into the 2 remaining bins. The things I did organized were the small pieces which went into a jar, special ornaments went into 2 plastic shoe boxes inside the larger bins and I wrapped the lights up because I never want to untangle lights ever again!

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  29. I love the little pouch holding the content list! That is great! I also have ornament storage totes like you do and I love them!

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  30. Ahhh ... brilliant side envelope with the content list!! You never cease to amaze me! Happy New Year!

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  31. Well, for heaven's sake. I think I LOVE every idea here and we haven't put it all away yet! Heading to Ikea...

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  32. Wow - that's great you got that all taken care of (and inspiring!).

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  33. I love that you are organizing things in ziploc bags. I use the bags for a lot of things.

    Sue
    Fruity Lemonade

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  34. Hey Girl! Gave you a little shout-out over at my place~~love love love your blog and your many creative and beautiful ideas! And if you ever want a Texas-sized challenge, come get my crazy household of eight kids and two dogs and one awesome husband and distractable me organized! ;o)

    Blessings!

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  35. Jen, I have to say, you are my "go to" gal when it comes to organization! I am organizationally challenged, so I check your blog daily:). In fact, I just wrote a post called "The Clutter Counter Confession" exposing my organizational issues.Stop by to check it out. I think my after shot will make your heart sing:)! And if you do start going to people's houses to help, is MI too far? :)
    Thanks for the inspiration,
    Kim www.plumberrypie.blogspot.com

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  36. Love the idea. Must do this next year. I totally hate digging for random decorations and wasting my time.

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  37. Loved this post. My goal this year is to try to get organized. It seems the more I try the worse I get. I have taken some of my decorations down. I did it different this year. I packed up by rooms. All of the living room decor. is together. All of the dining room decor. is together, etc. I have clear totes but I still put a general discription on the outside to let me know what was in there. One of my main problems right now is I have NO energy. I am going to the dr. tomorrow to have blood work done to see if anything is wrong. I hope not but I want to know why I am tried all the time. I take a multi-vit, a calcuim plus D vit., a complex B vit, and a vit. D. I should have just a little bit of energy. I am going to do better this year about getting organized. This is my year. I am going to do it!!!!!!!!

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  38. Loving this organizational post! I spotted those blue IKEA zip lock bags...their so big and SO handy...I went thru a box in no time.

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  39. I'm still wondering how you have only 2 bins of Christmas decorations. I have 16!!!!! Takes me 4 days to decorate. I LOVE Christmas, so I really don't mind having so much extra!!!

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  40. How did you attach the laminated pockets to the bins? Thanks so much for the post. Without a good organization plan, I have been overwhelmed thinking about putting it all away. I took it all down and hid it away in a guest room on Jan 1. But I have had no motivation to organize and put it away because I didnt even know where to begin. Now I can start! :)

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  41. Loooove the idea of putting the ornaments in ziploc bags! I was getting frustrated with how many boxes I needed too. Perfect solution, thanks!

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  42. Yes yes YES to the ziplock bags! For Canadian readers, it is worth noting that the Presidents Choice large freezer bags are GREAT for this as well. Very thick plastic and large enough for things like this (although the dimensions are closer to square than rectangle).

    Our biggest organizational achievement this post-Christmas was bagging up anything that didn't work in our new home – like if it required shelf space that we no longer have, or we just owned because it was given to us by someone else years ago trying to unload Christmas gear – and took it to the Goodwill. The next few Christmas' are mainly going to be decorated by crafts made every year, as we have small children.

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  43. In order to NOT stack the plastic tubs, my handy husband installed metal shelving (in our walk-in attic) with the shelves the correct distance apart to hold my tubs. I love it. Makes it so much easier to get into the tubs.

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  44. Holy Cow!!! I wish all my Christmas stuff fit into 2 bins, plus the ornament bins. I have waaayyy to much stuff I think. I have to rethink my decor and organize my bins better. Thanks as always for some really great ideas. I think I might try the ziplock or Ikea bag idea. I love Ikea for soooo many reasons. ;)

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  45. great organization! do you do the same for other holiday decorations?

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  46. @Anonymous - I will be now! :)

    xoxo,
    Jen

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  47. Hi Jen! Great ideas! We have lots of bins in our basement (unfortunately). We use them for many seasonal decorations and out of season clothing as well as many things we probably need to go through and donate! I love your list idea but I don't think I have the patience to implement that on our many bins. I also find that even labels stuck to the side get damaged and fall off. I started using a sharpie to neatly draw a number on all 4 sides of each bin. Then I keep an excel spreadsheet of contents for each bin. It has a column for occasion, bin description (large purple bin, etc.), and can contain a very detailed list of contents and other relevant notes. I will use this to note bins that need to be organized better or purged too. It is great because the number is on all sides and will never come off and never needs to be changed. I can sort the list by holiday or number (for easy lookup) and I can always have a copy down in the basement. I can search on the computer for a very specific item with ease! I love it! Thanks for all of your amazing ideas! I love you blog!

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  48. love it - mentioned it on my blog - www.thatsmykindofparty.com

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  49. Love the idea of the list on the outside of the bins. But I must be showing my age.. I have about 10 of those bins. Plus a few random cardboard boxes and a fake tree (or three) and then there is the outdoor decorations.... I guess the older you get the more decorations you have?

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  50. I seriously love this idea and I am so dragging Hubby into helping me with this! One question {random} : What font are you using on your labels? It's so pretty!!

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    1. Oh, I don't remember exactly which one it was, I think it was one of the ones I found here:

      http://kevinandamanda.com/fonts/fontsforpeas/

      xoxo!
      Jen

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  51. I love love love your blog! It's so helpful, and so modern!

    As well as Trish, I'd love to know what font you are using, and I'd love to know what scrapbook paper you're using! I recognize one from Becky Higgins, but I don't recognize the others. Thank you!

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    1. Oh, I don't remember exactly which one it was, I think it was one of the ones I found here:

      http://kevinandamanda.com/fonts/fontsforpeas/

      xoxo!
      Jen

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  52. Well, this is my second post on this. I have finally packed up all my Christmas decorations. I finally had some energy this weekend and got it all up. I am proud to say that it all looks neat in my attic with all the little labels on each end of all my totes. It looks very organized. I hope it will make next year easy to decorate. Now I can just do one room at a time.
    Thanks for the inspiration!!!!!!
    This is my year to get organized!!!!!

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  53. Thank you so much for the inspiration. I also packed mine into two storage boxes thanks to you. http://www.nzecochick.com/2012/01/christmas-organisation.html

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  54. This is fantastic! I wish we could get our holiday storage down to only a couple of bins. Ours it out of control right now.

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  55. Had no idea IKEA HAD bags! Like the cardboard to wrap the lights--kind of a duh! but I never thought of it....

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  56. I stumbled across this idea just looking at all of your beautiful rooms and storage ideas. I'm a bit of an organization freak as well. I won't go so far as to say "neat" freak, but I'm working on it... To add to your idea of the content's card on the outside of the storage bins. I did this for organizing my storage shed and not only did I make a list of the contents of each bin I labeled the bin as well such as "Kitchen" and had bowls, sifters, etc., in there. I made a list and placed the list in the box, but I took it one step further and printed a second sheet and placed it in a binder so that if I'm cooking and needed my sifter, I could go to the binder and find out what bin actually had the sifter in it. This eliminated the need for looking through 3-4 Kitchen bins to find the item I needed. I hope this helps anyone else looking to adopt this idea from your blog.

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  57. Great tips for organizing the holiday ornaments! Thanks for sharing

    Dan Jones
    bizorganizing.com

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  58. Great idea to put a card on the outside of the bins detailing the contents and attaching it with Velcro. I've tried to attach an inventory with packing tape, but it starts to roll up and come off of the plastic.

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