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Shortly after Christmas there comes a point when cleaning up the decorations becomes the monkey on your back. For me it’s a time represented by some cursing and trips to the attic with various boxes and bags to await next year’s rush of holiday spirit. Somewhere between taking down the tree and the last close of the attic door, I must inevitably deal with the lights. It does not go well.

I should get reels or some system of organization, I know this; everyone seems to have a system and most of them work to some degree. I roll them like a vacuum cord around my arm and then toss them in a box until next year. It provides some frustration in the untangling department the next year, but it is a quick solution.

Rolling them on a reel seems like the closest thing to what I’m doing now and should be the direction I take, but for some reason lights wind up in the same tired old box every year. There’s no shortage of options for this issue but the key factor for all of them seems to be my putting forth a modicum of effort.

How do you handle the Christmas light conundrum? Do you get off your duff and handle business, or make a giant light ball and toss it in the attic for 12 months? What do you recommend for the effort-impaired?

Holiday light Storage [Google Shopping]


16 Responses to The Dreaded Downside Of Holiday Lights

  1. Shellie says:

    We wrap them around extension cord holders. 🙂

  2. gary z says:

    I quit keeping lights once they are used. You can hit Target or Walmart after Christmas and get them cheap. I also think that if you spend more than 30 minutes putting up lights, you have too damned many. So all of that said, I pick up 5 strands of cheap ass lights right after Christmas and all is well. I also only do the back yard where I see them. Who the heck cares whether the yahoos driving by see ’em or not.

  3. Slow Joe Crow says:

    I have a really simple solution, I’m Jewish so I don’t have any holiday lights. The menorah just goes back into the cabinet after the eighth night.

  4. Sawdust says:

    Indoor mini-lights I coil up audio cable style – make a loop, twist, make a loop, twist, so they uncoil next year with no tangles. I put each coiled string in a gallon size ziplock bag. For the big outdoor strings, coil each string, and stack them in a box with a seperator between each coil – a piece of cardboard, a folded paper bag, or a trash bags makes a nice separator. I put a masking tape “flag” on the end of each string and write on it with Sharpie where it goes in the house so I don’t have to figure it out over again each year.

  5. case says:

    I wrap them just like you described, except I do each stand individually and use a zip tie or 2 to secure each one. Then they all go into the bin. When its time to get them out, the strands are easy to separate, then you just clip the zip ties and untangle the individual strands (which have very few tangles). I’ve tried other methods, but this has proven the simplest and most effective method. Another thing I do to make things go smoother is to use clips that I can leave in place, that way next year everything clips in and I’m done with it in 30 min or less.

  6. Noah says:

    I have worked as a Holiday light installer for the past two seasons. This past season we installed 30,000 strings of LED twink lights at one location. In the three and a half months it took, EVERY string was rolled like a ball of yarn before being put up. At take down, every string will again be rolled neatly like a ball of yarn and placed into tote bins that hold 72 balls each.

    There is not a more compact or faster way to store strings. Zig-zaging them in the hand takes far too long, wrapping in a loop causes instant tangles, and cord reels take up too much room. I know this probably seems counter intuitive, but if one starts with the female end of a string in their hand, and then proceeds to nearly roll up the string as one would a ball of yarn, they unroll perfectly. Again, 30,000 strings later, if there was a better method, we would have found it.

    • Aaron says:

      Noah, I can’t really picture how you get the ball started. Any advice on that?

      • Noah says:

        I hold the female end of the string in one hand with the thumb, pointer and middle finer and loop around my pointer and middle finger a few times. These creates something to start wrapping the string around. I then hold this base wrap in my left hand and wrap with my right (I am right handed) From there its just wrapping the string and rotating the ball with every wrap, just like any ball of yarn.

  7. Sven says:

    I use a heavy duty 4″ cardboard tube. Cut a notch in the end to hold the cord in place with the plug inside the tube and start spinning. I can get a good 8 strands of lights wrapped around with another notch at the other end to catch the tail end plug. A plastic bag over the whole operation or not and, voila, easy to unroll come next year.

  8. Ed Service says:

    Just get a plastic storage container (or plastic kitchen wastebasket) and feed the light strings into the container as you take them off the shrubs or your Christmas tree. Label the plug ends of the strings and just drop it into the container. Do this for each string of lights and next year just grab the plug of the last string in and start pulling it out as you decorate the shrub/tree. No winding on a reel, no fancy boxes for each light string. Just feed them into a container and there will be no tangles.

  9. craig says:

    my wife, who is obsessed with xmas lights, stores each coiled string in a labeled bag. each bag is is stored in a location-specefic bin. each bin is in a first-in last-out order in our shed.

    after thanksgiving each string is tested in its bag. if it tok’s, it is uncoiled and placed in its assigned location.

    if i still drank i’d go to the bar when this was all happening!

  10. tsander says:

    We’re Jewish, so it’s not really a problem for us. We just don’t put up Christmas lights. Now if you have some suggestions on how to pack a menorah, I’d love to hear from you.

  11. Drew says:

    Each strand in a separate plastic grocery bag has been working well for me. For long strands, I secure the coil with electrical tape first.

  12. Len says:

    We coil them around the hand and the elbow, tie them with in the center with the loose end. Put them in a plastic storage container. The next year, we get a bottle of wine, put on the Christmas music, and untangle them. Laughing about how we’re going to be more organized this year. 16 years later and we have a family tradition…

  13. russ says:

    I’ve been lucky the last few years, since my lovely wife is unemployed, she deals with it. We don’t put lights on the house since the neighbor’s house lights up part of the neighborhood but my wife deocrates the bushes. This year she made yard trees with my metal garden stakes and some other odd junk from the trash and strung lights. They looked pretty good at night. I guess that getting out of some of the work has been the only bright spot in the current economy, besides the neighbors house. All I have to do is take the containers out of the attic and back into the attic. …and it was her idea!!!

  14. Dutchguy says:

    Just roll em around you arm a little different… When winding between you hand and elbow cross the wires like the figure 8, wrap the last lenght around the bundle to tie the bunch together. This is the way you bundle parachute cord.

    In my case… I’ve got a fake tree which I store withe the lights attached

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