5 Ways to Properly Store Christmas Lights

Tree with lights

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There's nothing more magical than the soft glow of twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. What's not quite so magical is trying to take them off the tree and store them without the strands of lights turning into a giant tangled mess. To avoid any possible damage and frustration when unpacking the lights again next year, we're sharing five ways to properly store Christmas lights. Follow these methods to make next year's decorating easier and more efficient so you can truly enjoy the holiday season.


There's an important step to take before you actually start putting your Christmas lights away and that's to throw out any strands that may not work anymore! There's nothing worse than decorating your tree with lights, plugging them in, and finding out that the bulbs have burned out. Prevent that from happening by immediately discarding any lights that no longer work and your future self will thank you.

Wrap Lights Around a Spool

A large plastic or wooden spoon is a great tool for neatly storing supplies such as rope or string, but it works equally as well for storing Christmas lights. Take a strand of lights and make sure all the bulbs work, then lay it down on a flat surface such as a table or the floor. Starting with one end of the lights, begin to wrap it around the spool in a single layer—once you reach the end of the spool, start a second layer. When you reach the end of the strand, gently tuck it under one part of the wrapped lights to secure it and prevent it from unraveling.

Use a Piece of Cardboard

For an easy and inexpensive DIY way to store Christmas lights, grab a piece of sturdy cardboard. Depending on how long your strand of lights is, cut a rectangle out of the cardboard that's about the size of an A4 piece of paper. Using a pair of scissors, cut a small slit an inch from the top left corner. Take one end of the Christmas lights and gently thread it through the slit you just cut in the cardboard to secure it—then begin to wrap the strand of lights around the cardboard in a single layer. Once you reach the end, tuck it under the wrapped lights. Place the light-wrapped cardboard inside a plastic or paper bag to keep them safe.

Hang Them Up

If you have an empty spot on the wall in your garage or storage closet, use it to hang up Christmas lights. Attach a hook to the wall, then hold one end of the lights in your hand and wrap them around your elbow until you reach the other end. Grab a piece of string and tie it around the lights at the top end that you were holding with your hand, then simply hang them from the hook on the wall.

Use a Clothes Hanger

Chances are, you have an extra plastic hanger laying around the house somewhere—if that's the case, it's another great tool to use for properly storing your Christmas lights. The best type of hanger to use is one that has small hooks on either side, as you can use one as the starting place for wrapping one end of the lights. From there, wrap the strand all around the hanger in a single layer, then tuck the end into the second hanger hook to secure it in place. Either place the hanger in a storage box with the rest of your Christmas decor or hang it up on a wall hook or rail to store the lights safely until next year.

Purchase a Christmas Lights Storage Bag

Another option is to purchase a storage bag specifically designed to house Christmas lights. These bags are available at various home goods stores and online retailers in a variety of sizes and at different price points. The heavy-duty zippered bag typically includes several plastic or cardboard spools or reels to tie lights around so that they don't get tangled or damaged as they're placed inside the bag.

  • Can you take outdoor Christmas lights down and store them immediately?

    Before you put away your outdoor lights, make sure that they are fully dry. Lay them out on the floor in a single layer and let them dry completely, clean off any dirt and check bulbs for damage.

  • Does the temperature of the space they're stored in matter?

    Christmas lights that are designed for the outdoors are meant to withstand cold temperatures and can therefore be stored safely in a place like a garage. For indoor lights or those that are more fragile or unique in their construction, place them in an airtight container for extra protection.