How to Store Christmas Lights

If unraveling a tangled web of hastily stored Christmas lights is part of your annual celebration, here's how to break with tradition.


Up next in Christmas Trees & Decorations (38 videos)

Get all your questions about Christmas trees and Christmas decorations answered, and pick up a few new tricks, in this Howcast video series.


You Will Need

  • Strands of Christmas lights
  • Scissors
  • Pieces of cardboard
  • Spool organizer
  • Twist ties or zip ties
  • Permanent marker
  • Attic or basement
  • Plastic storage totes (optional)
  • Bubble wrap (optional)


  1. Step 1

    Check each strand

    Check each strand for broken lights before putting the strands into storage. Plug the string into an outlet and look for burnt-out bulbs. If the entire strand isn't working, throw it out.

  2. Place the light strings into plastic storage totes. Some specialized storage totes have slots for each pile of lights.

  3. Step 2

    Use scissors to cut slits

    Use scissors to cut 1-inch slits on each end of a piece of cardboard, repeating at regular intervals on each end. Place the end of a light string into the slit and wind the entire string up and down into the cardboard slots. Use one piece of cardboard per light string.

  4. Use bubble wrap to protect and secure stacks of lights placed into storage totes.

  5. Step 3

    Wind it up

    Buy a spool organizer at your local hardware or garden store. Place the plug of a light string into the top of the organizer and carefully reel the light string into the built-in storage basket.

  6. Step 4

    Rein in icicle lights

    Place a string of icicle lights onto a flat surface. Grasp the plug on one end and carefully pull the first icicle light into your hand. Continue gathering each individual icicle until they are all in hand. Tie a cable tie or twist tie around the wires at the top of the mound.

  7. Step 5

    Label containers

    Label each storage container with a permanent marker before putting it the basement or attic. Group together boxes with similar decorations -- it will help make finding them easier. Once Christmas rolls around again, you'll be in great shape!

  8. Electric lights were first used to decorate a Christmas tree in 1882.