Storing Christmas Lights

Christmas lights add so much glowing cheer to the season, whether they’re draped across your yard, decking your mantel and banister or lighting up your sparkling tree. Decorating with them is a great way to indulge your holiday spirit, but these delicate lights almost seem to knot themselves up on their own while they’re tucked away in storage. These ideas from us at west elm will help you tame your tangled light strands and store them safely until next season.

The Coat Hanger Hack

Head to your bedroom or entryway closet to grab your main supplies for this light-storage idea. Take inventory of the number of light strands you need to store, and get at least that many hangers. Make sure you choose sturdy wooden suit hangers or designs with a pants bar across the bottom. Duct tape one end of the light strand to the middle of the hanger by the hook, and begin tightly winding the strand around the hanger. Secure the loose end with duct tape, and place the hangers in storage bins. You can even hang them on a closet rod!

The Clever Tie-off

If you don’t have any extra hangers around or want to save more space on Christmas light storage, pick up a bag of zip ties. You’ll need three or four for each strand of lights. Roll up your lights using the traditional around-the-hand-and-elbow method. Remove each rolled strand, keeping a firm grasp on the two plug ends. Then, attach the zip ties. Space them evenly around each roll, being sure to pull them tight.

You can make each roll as small or as large as you like to fit the type of storage you have. Stack larger rings of lights between sheets of bubble wrap in bins and slide them under a guest bed. Or, place smaller rings into old coffee canisters to store them in boxes alongside other holiday decorations. Toss the baggies of extra bulbs inside the canisters, too. Compressing the rolls and sliding them into partitioned wine shipping boxes is another helpful idea – add one strand to each compartment.

Outdoor Light Storage

Do you have multiple strands of larger outdoor lights that you’re taking down? Get a large, hand-crank hose reel to make storage a breeze. Attach all of your outdoor Christmas lights by plugging them together in a long line. Then, tape one end to the center spindle and begin winding the strands around it. Be sure the individual bulbs are pointing outward, not lying flat against the spindle where the wires can get wrapped over them. Your reel might have an attached clip where you can stick the loose plug end when you’re done winding. If it doesn’t, zip tie the end to the side or handle of the reel. A design with wheels easily rolls into the garage or another storage area.

The Folding Technique

Would you prefer to get your holiday lights into even more compact bundles to maximize storage space in a bin? Here’s an easy way to fold them back up into neat parcels. Start at one end of one cord – it doesn’t matter which – and grab the second bulb from the end between your thumb and forefinger. Then, bring the fourth bulb up to meet the second, and hold them together. Continue zig-zagging and matching every other light together to create a bundle with lights on two sides and wire in the middle. The wires naturally bend a bit where each bulb is, and that makes it easier to see which light to grab next. When you reach the end, wrap the two plug ends around the wire center of the bundle. Plug them into each other to secure everything, and voila! Your lights can stay untangled for another year in storage.

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