Design Holidays & Celebrations

3 Fixes for Tangled Christmas Lights

Removing and storing string lights can be a messy business. Now that it's time to box up all that twinkling holiday decor, try one of these three string light organizing solutions that will protect your sanity and make sure next season shines just as brightly.
how to organize Christmas lights


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The most wonderful time of the year has drawn to a close, which means it’s time to take down the tree and pack up the stockings. While some decorations are simple to put away, others can be a downright pain to remove and organize. The number one culprit in tricky holiday cleanup? Christmas lights. No matter how careful you are, it seems they always end up in a jumbled mess—which can be frustrating not only for end-of-season work, but for next year’s festivities as well. Make this pesky process a breeze with one of these three solutions for keeping your string lights untangled and under control.

how to organize Christmas lights - cardboard

Cardboard Cutouts

This clever solution requires nothing more than a rectangular piece of sturdy cardboard left over from one of the Christmas packages you found nestled beneath the tree. Start by cutting the cardboard into an anvil shape—this will help prevent the loops from sliding off—then wind the cords around the thinner, middle section. When you’re finished, tuck the plug loosely beneath one of the strands to keep the lights in place. The best part of this easy (and free!) trick is that next year’s installation will be so much easier: You can quickly confirm that no bulbs are broken and then simply unravel the lights straight from the cardboard onto the tree.

How to Store Christmas Lights - Bundle Using Chair Legs

Twist and Tie

Unmanageable lights don’t stand a chance against this simple storage idea. The unlikely helper in your living or dining room? A spare seat! Start by flipping a stool or chair upside down. Then, wrap the lights in a figure-eight pattern around two of the legs until you have about 12 inches of cord remaining. Circle the remaining cord around the center of the figure eight, and tie a loose knot to prevent the lights from unraveling. Store the bundles in your closet or in a bin of holiday decorations until it’s time to deck the halls next year.

How to Store Christmas Lights - Wrap Around a Hanger

Hanger Help

For this nifty trick, look no further than your number one closet essential: a clothes hanger. (One with a bit of extra bulk is best, although skimpier plastic ones can do in a pinch.) Loop the lights around the hanger, working from one end to the other, until you reach the last few inches of the strand. Loosely tie the leftover cord around the hook of the hanger.

For extra-streamlined storage, color-coordinate your set’s bulbs with hangers of the same shade—white lights with white hangers, red or multicolored lights on red hangers, and so on—then hang in the closet using your repurposed organizer’s hook. If closet space is tight, consider attaching an S-hook to the middle of the hanger’s base and suspending another light-wrapped bundle from it. Tuck the hangers alongside your favorite Christmas sweater so lights remain organized and easy to access next year.