How to Store Christmas Lights

by Steffi Cook | Updated: Jan 6, 2021

Christmas lights help provide us with some much-needed shine and sparkle during the darker months of the year. Whether we’re hanging lights on the tree or creating a drive-by Christmas celebration, we just love Christmas lights. The only thing more universal than our love of lights is the hatred of detangling them. Fortunately, there are a few great ways to prevent the yearly tradition of "light untangling" and it all revolves around how you store your lights. Here are four tips on how to store Christmas lights.

What is the best way to store Christmas lights?

There isn’t a one size fits all answer here. The best method on how to store Christmas lights will vary based on the type of light string that you have. In general, most of these tips are easy to adapt for any length or configuration.

Cardboard light winder

Perhaps the simplest and most affordable way to store Christmas lights is with leftover cardboard using the holiday Amazon boxes you've recently collected. Cut a flat rectangle shape from the box and size it according to the length and bulb size of your lights. WikiHow suggests you should then cut a "bulb-sized" notch in the cardboard which will help hold your string in place. Attach a bulb at the end of the string and then wind until the cord is completely wrapped around the cardboard. Grab some leftover tissue paper and wrap it around the outside of the bulbs for extra protection.

Tube winder

If you have smaller string lights, like mini lights or battery-operated LEDs, the cardboard method may be too large. Instead, try grabbing an old Pringle's can or a sturdy paper towel tube. Instead of cutting a notch from the cardboard, make a small slit to hold the end of your light string. Wrap the lights until they are completely tied and finish with the end going back to the same slit. If using a chip container, cap it with a lid to keep the string from unraveling. If using a tube, try a piece of electrical tape. Cover the outside with tissue or wrap in brown paper to protect the bulbs.

Twist and tie

If you've already recycled all your boxes and tubes, Bob Vila has a technique that doesn't require added materials. Simply flip a chair or stool upside down and use two of the legs to create a winder spool. Weave your light string around the legs in a figure-eight pattern until the cord has only about 12 inches remaining. Use the last of the cord to wrap in a circular manner around the center of the bundle and weave the plug through to tie a knot. Remove from the stool legs and easily stash your bundle away.

Cord reel

If you're really serious about how to store Christmas lights, you might want to make light storage an investment. CNET suggests purchasing a number of cord reels at your local home improvement store or online to make light winding simpler. If you have a hose reel in your backyard, these light reels will work in a similar manner. You can purchase reels in a variety of different sizes and at different price points. For most reels, you'll want to connect your lights into one large string. Attach the end of the light string at the starting notch on your reel and keep winding. Higher-end reels will even come with an easy hand winder and often a storage case to match.

Choose the method best for you

Storing Christmas lights doesn't have to be difficult. The techniques above can help you use materials around your home to prevent seasonal detangling sessions. If you don't have the exact items available, you can improvise using items like coat hangers and even plastic sheets using the same techniques. Purchasing light reels may simplify the process even further and last longer than DIY methods. Whatever you choose, make the process about enjoying the season and not dreading the chores. 

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