Storing Christmas Lights

I’m so sad I didn’t learn about this easy way to store Christmas lights years ago. For a long time I just threw out our Christmas lights at the end of December. I never liked trying to untangle the massive ball of knots every Thanksgiving weekend, and figured buying them on clearance after Christmas to use the next year saved my sanity.

Last year my sister showed me a very simple way to store Christmas lights. I waited an entire year to post it because I wanted to know if it actually worked! I am happy to report that this Christmas I was able to reuse the three strands of Christmas lights we used last year. There were no knots to untangle, no broken lights, and it was easy to string them around the tree.

Cut a piece of sturdy cardboard into the shape of an anvil.

Then wrap the lights around the cardboard.


It works better if you have a thick piece of cardboard. Mine was thinner and it started to bend a little because my light strand was long.

This storage method works with outside Christmas lights as well as inside lights, but probably won’t work with those icicle Christmas lights.

Store with your other Christmas decorations until next Christmas and then enjoy a peaceful unraveling of lights to put up next year!

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  1. YES! I was checking out the After Christmas sales at Walmart yesterday and noticed several of those fancy boxes that have a sturdy-plastic-thing to wrap the lights around. For a moment I thought it would be really nice to have. But, we’ve been storing our lights like you do above for several years now, so, I didn’t need it and I passed on by. Thanks for making me feel better about that decision. After all – who is really going to care that the lights are in a pretty plastic box or a cardboard box? They’re stored on a shelf in my basement 11 months of the year. Who would notice?

    One suggestion – don’t store lights in the attic. The summer heat does nasty things to the electrical wiring for inside lights.

  2. It does work for icicle lights, if you have a thicker/wider piece and just wrap them up slowly to get the hanging strands in there, I have been doing this for yrs!

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      Awesome! Thanks for letting me know. I don’t think I will ever have any icicle lots, but it seems like lots of people do!

  3. Another method I saw on Martha Stewart was to store them on a electrical wire roll (like a giant spool) then put a broom handle through the hole and prop each end on something high enough to let the spool roll…just roll them off onto the tree. I’ve never found an electrical wore spool to try it myself though.

  4. Great tip! Growing up, we always used paper towel rolls with a notch in the top to roll them up. Right now, ours are in the original boxes, folded just like when we bought them–but my husband likes it that way. 🙂

  5. We’ve also used old wrapping paper tubes and clothes hangers (the no-slip type 😉 effectively.

  6. dgsandbjsmom says:

    My parents have been doing this for over 30 years. They would never thrown anything out, ever. I think the Christmas lights on our tree are a good 25 years old at least.

  7. stephsalive says:

    I use this for my longer strands.
    You are right, thicker cardboard is better, I also. Cut notches in a zigzzag pattern in the sides andrun the lights using these grooves to keep it neater andmore tangle free. Th notches need to be deep enough to hold a few turns of wire.

    For shorter strings I love to use ziplockbags. I loop the lights loosely around my hand. Continuing until the lights are completely spooled. I then put them in qrt size generic brand bag which I can reuse for yrs. This method also works well for the longer ones, spooling them from elbow to palm loosely first.

    The key to tangle free is loose spooling and bags to keep them seperate. And when. Ready to hang gently shake free any areas that may be entwined. Gentle and loose key words

  8. Somehow I was always the unlucky one to untangle the Christmas tree light ball growing up. My husband and I have been doing the cardboard method since we got married. It is so much easier. Usually he will put them on the tree while I follow behind him and slowly unwind the cardboard. We learned that you should put them on the cardboard backwards from how you will string them so that you don’t have to take them all off the cardboard while stringing and risk tangling them. For us that means starting with the “male” plug end and winding to the “female” plug end. Hope that makes sense.

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