Save the Box

I’m a bit of a straggler when it comes to taking down the Christmas decorations. I’m exactly the kind of person home owners associations have in mind when they pass rules about when holiday lights need to be turned off. It’s partially because those Shiny Brites are so beautiful I want them out forever—but it’s mostly because taking them down and packing them away is a huge pain. But the one thing I do look forward to when I pack up my vintage ornaments is seeing their wonderful original boxes. They’re bright. They’re fun. They’re…

Well, sometimes they’re super beat up. Lets face it, these boxes are 50 years old or more. Glues dry out, corners break and after decades of opening and closing the fragile paperboard boxes, they have often seen better days. As with anything old, minor damage can become major damage if left unattended or repaired improperly. Before you toss that old box here’s an easy way to safely repair damaged boxes.

Shiny Brite boxes often have torn or missing corner tape

The most commonly damaged areas of the box are the corners and creases, especially on lids. Early Shiny Brite boxes in particular used paper tape that tears easily if box lids are forced on. It might be tempting to grab the Scotch tape, but it won’t look right and as the tape ages its glues will seep into the paper and permanently darken it. I prefer to repair seams with an acid free glue stick, such as UHU, and brown paper.

For boxes with torn corner tape, simply cut a piece of paper the size of the old paper tape, apply glue and press it on. Easy as pie. It takes a couple seconds more than tape, but it looks 100% better and it won’t harm the paper in the long term. For boxes that didn’t originally have paper tape or for those that have torn on seams, you can use the same technique, but apply the new paper to the inside of the box rather than the outside. It will stabilize the tear and won’t be visible when the box is closed.

Repaired Box

It’s always a good idea to inspect your boxes every year when you put your ornaments away and repair as needed. If your boxes have cellophane windows that have torn, this can also be replaced with a sheet of acetate, available at art stores or online. Finally, as you pack away the ornaments, don’t forget to replace the old, yellowed tissue paper nests with new, acid-free tissue paper. This will protect the ornaments’ paint for years to come.

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2 Comments

  1. Susie
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Great post! I just got through boxing up my shiny brites with scotch tape, ahhh!! Oh no, I had a feeling I shouldn’t be using it, but didn’t know what else to use. Thanks for another great tip. So happy I came upon your site via my “saga hutch”.

  2. Austin
    Posted January 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    We’re glad you found us too! The important thing is that you know how to do it right next time. Now go write on a blackboard “I will not use Scotch tape on vintage things” 100 times 😉

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