7 Best Ways To Store Christmas Lights

Updated: Dec. 01, 2023

While strings of twinkle lights bring joy to the holidays, putting them away can be quite a chore. To help: Our top Christmas light storage tips.

If you love to deck the halls, tree and house with lights, chances are you equally dread packing them up after the holidays. The strings get tangled, bulbs break and they rarely ever fit back into their original package. Surely there’s a better way to store Christmas lights!

These seven methods for storing Christmas lights can make the task easier, allowing you to keep your Christmas cheer during takedown and ensure your twinkle lights are ready when the holiday season rolls around again.

DIY Cardboard Christmas Light Storage

After trying different methods, Michele Vig, founder and chief organizer at Neat Little Nest, says she prefers one thing over all others: a DIY cardboard wrap. “The tried and true method I’ve been using for years is simply wrapping the lights around a piece of cardboard big enough that there isn’t any overlap,” she says. “Then, I store those pieces of cardboard in a plastic tote.”

While ready-made versions of the holiday light spools are available, this DIY approach lets you use longer pieces of cardboard, wrap the lights horizontally and choose a bin size suited to your needs. If you wrap them to fit the ready-made example, Vig says you’ll probably need to wrap lights on top of lights, which can tangle and damage them.

To create: Cut the cardboard into a simple rectangle and wrap the lights around the long way. Or try an hourglass or anvil shape similar to a capital letter “I.” Whatever shape you choose, snip a slit near each end of the cardboard so you can tuck in the ends of the light string to keep them from slipping.

To secure the strand further, cut several slits down the opposing sides of the cardboard before you wrap the lights around. Then slide the strand into each as you wrap.

DIY Wood Christmas Light Storage

DIYers can carve out custom light spools in a similar hourglass or anvil shape as the cardboard method above. Or you could build a light stand by screwing two dowels into a slab of wood. Wind the light strands in a figure-eight pattern around the dowels.

Be sure the height of the dowels suits your storage bin and the slab of wood fits the bottom of the bin so you can easily place the wooden storage stands in the bin. Then neatly cover before packing them away after the holidays.

Wind-Up Method to Store Christmas Lights

Wind Up Lightsvia amazon.com

If you like the cardboard method but prefer something sturdier to store your Christmas lights, try a cord wind up. Just grip the handle and wrap the lights around, using the built-in hooks to secure them. You should still plan to place these in bins, preferably with a layer of padding, such as newspaper, fabric or recycled wrapping paper, to protect the cords and bulbs.

Christmas Light Storage Reel

Another option Vig likes: A purchasable light reel. “The heavy plastic ones are great because you can wrap your lights around nicely and tuck them away until next year,” she says. Simply turn the wheel by hand to carefully wind the lights on, and pull slowly to remove them.

“You need patience putting them on and taking them off the reel,” Vig says. “If you’re intentional, it’s really a breeze!”

Hanging Christmas Light Storage

You probably already have something in your closet you can use in a pinch: a clothes hangar. Be sure to choose a hangar with wide notches — those dips meant for the straps of a shirt — to help secure the light strings.

Start at one of the hangar notches and wrap the lights vertically as you move from one side of the hangar to the other. When you’re nearing the end of the string, wrap the end around the notch on the other side or around the neck of the hangar, then loosely tie or loop it through to secure.

Hang in a closet if you have space. or place them in labeled bins separated by cardboard, newspaper or bubble wrap. This method works well for shorter strings of lights, as longer ones may overlap and more easily tangle.

DIY Paper Tube Christmas Light Storage

Paper towel and wrapping paper tubes provide another DIY solution that puts holiday waste to work for you.

Drop one end of the light string into the inside of the tube, letting it fall about halfway down. Add a piece of tape inside to secure. Then wrap the light string firmly around the outside, working your way to the other end of the tube, where you’ll place the other end of the light string and tape it, too.

If you’ve got leftover holiday ribbons, tie them around the outside for added security. Wrap each in bubble wrap or leftover wrapping paper before laying gently together in a storage tote.

Easy Bagged Christmas Light Storage

Christmas Light Bagvia amazon.com

This method is the easiest of all. Coil the lights by holding one end in your hand, bending your arm, then wrapping the string from elbow to hand until you reach the end. Secure with a reusable twist tie before placing in a recycled gift bag.

Label it with the location you used the lights in, such as “tree,” “window” or “hall,” so you can quickly locate the right lights next year. Keep them better protected by nesting each bag inside a bin. Use some padding to prevent damage.