If unraveling a tangled web of hastily stored Christmas lights is part of your annual celebration, here's how to break with tradition.
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.
TIP: Place the light strings into plastic storage totes. Some specialized storage totes have slots for each pile of lights.
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.
TIP: Use bubble wrap to protect and secure stacks of lights placed into storage totes.
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.
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.
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!
FACT: Electric lights were first used to decorate a Christmas tree in 1882.