Taking down your holiday lights and storing them until next year doesn’t have to be messy or complicated. Although not as much fun as putting them up, taking down your Christmas tree lights is generally quicker than putting them up. The key to pain-free Christmas decorating next year is to store your lights properly this year so that you don’t end up with a tangled mess or broken bulbs.

Remove ornaments and unplug lights

After removing your ornaments you can start removing the holiday lights. Unplug your lights to give them time to cool down.

Cardboard tube method

If you have a long string, consider gluing 2 or 3 rolls of paper towel tubing together. Cut a slit in either end to tuck the strand in place. Using an empty cardboard tube (or fat roll of newspaper), take the female end of the light string and place about 5 inches of it inside the roll. Start gently removing the string from the branches and wind it around the roll (you can even glue 2 rolls together, side-by-side, to make a thicker roll). When you reach the end, place the male end inside the tube and secure it through the slit.


Newspaper roll method

You can easily wind stringed lights around a thick roll of newspaper as well. Newspaper is generally available and you can make a thicker roll for a longer string, or a thinner roll for a shorter string.


Hanger method

Instead of winding lights around a roll, you can wind them around a coat hanger. This works best with hangers that have a hanger bar. Once the light string is wound around the hanger, you can actually hang it up in the attic or spare closet until you need it next.


For large C7 or C9 bulb strings

Larger bulbs take up more space and can be more difficult to wrap around a simple cardboard tube. Some find it easier to use large cardboard squares and lay them flat inside a box.


If you have many, many strands of light, you may want to invest in large spools like this one. You can ask your local hardware store for empty spools or simply purchase them. Large spools can house long strings of light and may work better for your collection.