How to Untangle Christmas Lights (And Keep Them From Tangling Again)

Multi-color string lights tangled up

The holiday season is a time filled with joy and fun and decorating is a huge part of the festivities. However, there is one aspect of holiday decorating that most people dread every year, unraveling the knot of Christmas lights before you can decorate. No matter how carefully you put them away, every year they wind up in a tangled mess. What if I told you there were ways to store them so they never tangled up again? First things first though, this blog will help you learn how to untangle your Christmas lights and find the ideal way to store them.

Step 1. Start with the Plug

A good place to start when it comes to untangling your string lights is to first locate the plug. Spread out your lights in a large room so you can see everything clearly. Then, try to find the plug at the end of the cord. Gently work the plug through the knots. Don’t pull too hard as that can damage your lights.

Step 2. Use a Pen or Pencil

If you encounter a particularly tight, stubborn knot, insert the end of a pen or pencil into the knot. Use the pencil to loosen the knot enough so you can pull it apart with your fingers.

Step 3. Keep Your Lights Organized as You Untangle

The worst feeling in the world is to spend hours untangling your lights only to realize that you’ve accidentally let them bunch up again while you were working on a different section of the strand. To avoid this, organize your untangled lights in neat, straight lines, or wrap them around your arm like a garden hose to keep them organized as you go.

Step 4. Check Your Lights

Once you’ve successfully untangled your lights, there is one final step you must take before you hang them on your tree or house. Check the lights to ensure that they are glowing brightly. If you do spot a dud here or there, you can find replacement bulbs at your local hardware store.

 two people decorating a Christmas tree in the living room

Step 5. Enlist a Helper

To further prevent any accidental re-tangling, find a friend to help you decorate. While one person works on hanging the lights, the other person is responsible for keeping the rest of the strand organized and feeding the lights to the other person.

5 Ways to Store Your Christmas Lights So They Won’t Tangle

Once the holiday season is over, there are a variety of methods that you can use to successfully store your string lights so you don’t have to go through the hassle of untangling them next year.

Method 1. Use a Piece of Cardboard

First, find an old cardboard box (a leftover from one of your Christmas presents perhaps). Using a pair of scissors, cut out a large cardboard “card” from the box. Next, cut a notch into each side of the box. Wrap the lights around the card, using the notches to keep them securely in neat rows.

Method 2. Use a Hanger

A clothes hanger is another way to securely wrap Christmas lights. Start at one end of the hanger, and wrap the strand vertically around the hanger until you reach the other end of the hanger. Wrap the end of the lights around the hook of the hanger so you can easily find the plug next year. Not only will this keep your lights organized, it also makes them easy to store simply by hanging them in a closet.

Method 3. Figure 8 Wrap

For this method, you must first find a dining chair and turn it upside down. Using two of the chair legs, wrap the string lights around them in a figure eight formation until about a foot of the lights remains. Wrap the remaining strand around the middle of the figure eight and tuck the plug into the wrapped portion to keep the light bundle secure.

Christmas tree decorated in a corner of a living room with lights on

Method 4. Keep Them On the Tree

Why bother taking your lights off your artificial Christmas tree? If you have space in a basement or closet, you can leave the lights on your tree and store it upright. You can even leave the Christmas tree ornaments on. Simply cover the tree with a canvas bag or zip-up Christmas storage tree bag. Next year, you won’t need to assemble your tree, untangle your lights, or even decorate. All you need to do is plug in the lights.

Method 5. Use a Hose Reel

Like garden hoses, string lights are long and skinny and can be easily wrapped up in a hose reel. Use a hose reel to store outdoor Christmas lights, the same way you would use them to store a garden hose in your garden shed or garage.
Never Deal with Tangled Lights Again!

Now that you know how to deal with tangled up Christmas lights and know a variety of storage techniques to help tame them for next year, make this season the last time you deal with the frustration of string lights. Instead, next year you will enjoy a holiday season that is a whole lot less “knotty” and much more nice!

For additional holiday tips, check out our other Bright Ideas holidays and seasonal blog articles.

Holiday & seasonal

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