Foolproof Ways to Store Christmas Lights

Tangled holiday lights make decorating a challenge.
Tangled holiday lights make decorating a challenge. (Image: alexeys/iStock/Getty Images)

Putting up holiday decorations is supposed to be a happy and joyous time. Then you dust off the box of lights and start the job of untangling the mess of wires. It can take the fun right out of decorating for the holidays. Take a little extra time this year to store light strands after removing them to ensure a tangle-free holiday season next year.

DIY Solutions

Cardboard Tubes

Use the cardboard tube from an empty wrapping paper roll or any similar sturdy cardboard tube. Paper towel tubes are another option, but you might want to tape or glue two or three together to make a sturdier construction.

  1. Cut a slit in either end of the tubes.
  2. Insert about 5 inches of the female end of the light string into the tube, then tuck the cord into one slit.
  3. Wrap the light string around the tube.
  4. Tuck the male end of the string into the slit at the opposite end of the tube.


  • Label each light strand with a piece of masking tape. Use a permanent marker to note the strand’s length and where it was used to make decorating even easier next year.

Cardboard Pieces

Another option that works well for bulkier or odd-shaped lights is to recycle sturdy cardboard into a light-strand holder.

  1. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside your storage boxes.
  2. Cut a slit on either side of the piece.
  3. Place the male side of the plug in one end and begin wrapping around the cardboard.
  4. At the end, tuck the female end into the opposite slot.
  5. Secure with tape if necessary.


  • This also works for garlands, beads or other easily-tangled decorations.

Newspaper Roll

Re-purpose old newspapers into convenient light strand holders. Use a thicker roll for longer strands, a thinner roll for shorter ones.

  1. Roll newspaper by hand, or use a newspaper-log making tool.
  2. Tuck the female plug end into one end of the roll.
  3. Wrap the strand around the roll.
  4. Tuck the male plug end into the opposite side of the roll.


  • Cover each strand with wrapping paper, bubble wrap or some other paper to help keep strands separate when storing stacked strands together.

The Hanger Method

You can use any kind of hanger for this trick. Once you've rolled up all your lights, you can store them in a box, or hang them in a closet or storage space.

  1. Secure the male end of the strand at one corner of the hanger.
  2. Wrap the strand around the hanger, using both the top and bottom hanger rails.
  3. Secure the female plug end at the opposite side with tape or a tie.

Commercial Options

If you prefer to avoid the DIY route, commercial solutions are available. If you use long strands, or lots of lights a light spool keeps them organized. They can be simple, handheld spools, or come with their own stand to make dispensing easier. You can also find commercial tubes, flat panels and other holiday light storage solutions at any home improvement store.

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