How to store Christmas lights according to experts

Find out how to store Christmas lights in a way that best preserves them, while preventing tangled wires

A string of Christmas lights in a box of Christmas decorations
(Image credit: Robin Gentry/ Getty)

Want to know how to store Christmas lights, beyond simply stuffing them in a box? We hear you.

While it's perfectly acceptable to simply put your lights away in a box together with Christmas decorations, you'll likely find a tangled mess that will take ages to unravel next year. Moreover, lights that are repeatedly tangled may eventually break, especially if yours are made with a delicate-type wire.

So, consider folding and storing lights correctly one of the best Christmas ornament storage ideas that will save you time, and save your lights excessive wear and tear. 

And if you can't wait for Christmas this year, find out the right answer to when to put up Christmas decorations, according to the experts.

How to store Christmas lights, according to experts

A storage bag for Christmas lights

(Image credit: Wayfair)

We asked Nadia McCowan Hill, Wayfair’s Resident Style Advisor, to give her expert advice on storing your Christmas fairy lights. Nadia emphatically recommends getting dedicated, 'helpful accessories to keep your lights neatly stored', rather than just trying to shove your lights back in their original box. 

Nadia advises that 'a heavy-duty storage bag like this one from Wayfair will protect lights when stored in a loft, garage, or cellar - keeping them well covered from dust or accidental spills. This handy design features a transparent window, so you can see what lights are inside, making it even easier to start decorating when the time returns.'

Alternatively, a lights storage reel like this one, also from Wayfair, is a super simple way to keep string lights tangle-free. Future you will be thanking your past self for this nifty little investment!'

What is the best way to store Christmas lights? 

You don't have to buy anything special if you don't want to. Gina Daniel, an interior design and home décor blogger, recommends simply getting 'a plastic tub or box.' Storage boxes 'keep your lights away from moisture if you store your decorations away in the basement/loft.'

Gian Moore, an interior designer, DIYer and Marketing Director at Mellowpine, has another useful hack for storing your lights, whether you use them for your Elf on the Shelf ideas or your general decor. 'Grab a hanger from your closet and wrap those strands. It will keep you from spending hours of your holiday time unraveling a tangled mess.' Turns out hangers are not just one of the best clothing storage ideas, but great for Christmas decs, too. 

The type of hangers you use matters. Gian recommends you use 'heavy-duty plastic hangers because they’re thicker, more durable, and will prevent the strands from coming unfastened. Start at the end of the light strand and carefully wrap it around both ends of the hanger, until you reach the last few inches of the strand. Then loop or tie the end of the strand around the hook of the hanger. The coat hanger method shall help your Christmas lights stay untangled.'

Man Holding Tangled String of Christmas Lights

(Image credit: Randy Faris/ Getty)

How do you keep Christmas lights untangled? 

Gina says that 'one way you can keep your Christmas lights untangled is to wrap them around a piece of cardboard. Kitchen towel rolls are ideal for this, as you can simply wrap them around the shape quickly.' Actually, wrapping your lights around just about any solid object will help them stay untangled – you can even try wrapping your lights around one of your other Christmas decoration boxes. Whatever you do, avoid just throwing them in together with the baubles. 

Kirstie Batty, Head of Merchandising at DIY experts GTSE, advises using cable ties to stop them from intertwining. Simply wrap the length of your lights around your hand to create a loop, and then secure it together with a cable tie or two and pack them away for next year! For an extra level of organization, you could even try using labeled cable ties to remember which lights usually go where in your home.' Cables ties are widely available from Amazon and other retailers and are an easy way to organize all your cables, not just Christmas lights.  

A close-up of multi-coloured Christmas lights

(Image credit: kyletperry/ Getty)

Is it safe to keep your Christmas lights in a garage?

According to Gina, it very much depends on the type of lights you've got: 'If your lights are outdoor lights, then they're specifically built to withstand cold and wet weather, making the garage a great home for them throughout the year. However, if your lights are indoor lights only, you may want to make sure that no moisture can get to them before storing them in your garage.'

Gian is generally unconvinced: 'Keep Christmas decoration storage as far away as possible from your vehicle. Starting up your engine will cause a quick rise in temperature, exposing your décor to heat. Also, never store an artificial Christmas tree, wreath, or garland uncovered in a garage. This exposes them directly to dust, dirt, moisture, and small animals.'

Anna is a professional writer with many years of experience. She has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. She covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.