How to Store Christmas Lights: Avoid the Holiday Tangle

I used to store my Christmas lights in a couple of large totes. It also held our garland, ornaments, tablecloths, and one freaky nutcracker (I hate those things).

Typically, my wife handles holiday setup and tear-down. She loves making the house look homey and festive.

This year…she was out of town when the lights needed to come down. So, it was the first time it fell on my shoulders.

After an hour of trying to shove lights back into their boxes, I decided there must be a better way.

Let’s discuss how to store Christmas lights so they’ll be organized and safe for next year.

How To Choose Christmas Light Storage

Like your ornaments, Christmas lights must be stored in a dry, safe place. Your urge might be to shove as much as possible into a single tote.


It’s easy to pile too much on top of them, breaking some of the bulbs.

To prepare to put away your decorations, obtain a box or several boxes and storage containers. Get as many boxes and storage containers as possible to safely store your Christmas lights.

This Christmas light storage method will keep your Christmas lights safe and dry and prevent your lights from breaking or getting damaged.

When taking down the lights, untangle them by laying them flat and stretching them out while removing any twists or kinks.

Please do not skip this step, no matter what type they are or how you plan to store them. It could damage your Christmas lights if you do.

You can even use a hanger to safely store Christmas lights! You can also use a cord reel.

If you saved the box that your lights came in, you can use that, then place the box inside a storage container or bag for safekeeping.

I’ve stored them neatly wound together in an extra storage cabinet in a pinch. The possibilities are endless, and you don’t need a lot of money or fancy equipment to store them.

Let’s talk about storing Christmas lights in some of the most popular aftermarket storage containers. It may cost a little more, but hanging your Christmas lights will be easier next year!

Christmas lights stored on hangers

How to Store Christmas Lights [Boxes, Hangers, & Reels]

Here are three easy ways to store Christmas lights – some using items you may already have around your home.

Storing Christmas Lights in Boxes

If you have spare boxes around the house, you can use them to store Christmas lights. You don’t need to purchase any new boxes. If you saved the box your Christmas lights came in, you’re in luck! You don’t need to force the lights back into the box, but you can use the outside of the box to neatly wrap the Christmas lights around it.

Cut two slits on the outside of the box and insert the string lights into the slit. Then, wind the cords around the box as you would with a cord reel. Think of a garden hose and how you wrap it up.

You can store Christmas lights in a traditional cardboard box with modifications if you prefer.

Using a razor blade, cut the cardboard into several small rectangles. Alternatively, you can use the sides of the box and cut them off.

Use those rectangles that you cut from the box as your base. Cut two slits on the outside of the rectangles. Then, wrap the cords around the rectangle like a garden hose and wind them around it slowly and neatly. It helps if you move from left to right or right to left.

Some people wrap tissue paper around the lights after they wind them and before they store them and place the lights inside a storage bin to prevent water damage or crushing.

After wrapping your lights inside a container, you are sealing out the elements. Wrapping them around cardboard keeps your Christmas lights tangle-free. This is the easiest and least demanding option available to store Christmas lights.

ZOBER Christmas Light Storage Box
  • Material: 600 denier Oxford fabric
  • Color: Red
  • Capacity: 240 feet of light strand (Each reel fits 60" in strands)
  • Dimensions: 17” x 12” x 10”
Check Latest Price
This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.

Storing Christmas Lights With Hangers

Standard clothes hangers are a great way to wrap your string lights if you have extra closet space you want to utilize for Christmas light storage. Most homes have extra hangers, so you shouldn’t need to buy anything.

Take one end of the Christmas lights and tuck them into one of the hooks. Next, wrap the lights around the outside of the hanger from right to left.

Imagine you’re wrapping a garden hose around a cord reel. You’ll want to wrap the string lights similarly.

Tuck the other end into the hook on the opposite end from where you started. They should look like thread neatly wound on a reel.

You can place this hanger in a storage container to keep your string lights safe from damage and the elements. Sometimes, rodents can eat your lights, so storing them in airtight containers is necessary. You can also hang the lights that are wound on your clothes hangers.

Christmas Lights Storage Holder [Set of 4]
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Storing Christmas Lights With a Cord Reel

Storing Christmas lights with a cord reel will cost you money, but it’s money well spent.

You can find cord reels or power cord holders at any hardware store, but ideally, you’ll want to use one designed for electrical cords. 

First, insert your string lights into the end of the cord reel and carefully wind them up, taking great care not to break or crack any of the lights.

I help save space by plugging light strings into each other and winding them up as one long, continuous string.  

ZOBER Christmas light storage bag

Personally, I use the ZOBER Christmas light storage bag. It has three wire cord reels that fit snugly inside a heavy fabric bag, and each reel fits up to 80′ worth of lights.

That’s more than enough to store an entire house’s worth of lights in a single Christmas light storage bag.

ZOBER Premium Christmas Light Storage Box
  • Material: 600 denier Oxford fabric
  • Color: Green
  • Capacity: 240 feet of light strand (Each reel fits 80" in strands)
  • Dimensions: 12.5” x 15"
Check Latest Price
This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.