Christmas Light Storage
The one aspect of Christmas decorating that my family used to dread the most was getting out, and putting away,
the Christmas lights! Every year the strings got tangled, the light bulbs didn't work and we couldn't find the
spares; one year we even had a problem working out which were outside lights and which belonged inside!
Finally I spent a little time thinking about what I wanted to achieve and how to achieve it without
any expense and too much effort, and this is what I came up with. We now know that Christmas light storage doesn't
have to be a nightmare, and I think you will agree that getting the lights out again next year won't be such a
chore if you follow our simple tips.
1. Wrap them
Put your Christmas packaging to good use by cutting up some of your strong cardboard boxes - the kind made
of corrugated cardboard - into rectangles. Make a slot in one corner and feed the non-plug end of your string
of lights into it, taping the wire down with a piece of sticky tape to make sure it stays secure. Then wind the
lights around the cardboard rectangle, taping here and there if you think it necessary. When you get to the end of
the lights, cut another slot in the cardboard and feed the plug end through. You might have to experiment a little
to get the right size of cardboard, but it will last for years so it is worth the effort first time round.
2. Attach the spares
Find a small ziploc bag for the appropriate replacement bulbs and staple or sticky tape it to one edge of the
cardboard alongside the lights.
3. Record them
Using a permanent marker pen, write details of the lights on one edge of the cardboard rectangle (eg "White star
string, indoor, Christmas tree, non-flashing" or "multi-colored outdoor lights; used in tree Christmas 2006"). If
you have the time and inclination, a photograph taken at this point with your digital camera will be a very useful
reminder to keep in your Christmas Planner file.
4. Protect them
Wrap a "collar" of bubble wrap around your bundle and sticky tape it together. Do this so that your writing
can still be seen, or repeat the writing on the bubble wrap (the permanent marker should work fine).
5. Store them
Each "package" of lights can now be packed carefully into a storage box or trunk. If you need more than one box,
try to keep all outdoor lights in one and indoor lights in another, just to make your task a little easier when it
comes to unpacking! It helps to label the boxes "1 of 3", "2 of 3" and so on.
6. File it
However much you convince yourself that you will remember how and where you stored your lights, the chances are
that you won't! Print out those photos, along with another taken of the packed and labelled boxes, and put them in
your Christmas Planner file along with details of where you have put
Next year, when you come to unpack your lights, you may even get away with handing your teenager or husband the
page of photos and asking him/her to locate the boxes, unpack the bundles and put them out ready for you to hang!
You can then unwrap the first few feet of each string, plug the lights in to check that they are working and
to make sure that they are the right distance from the power source, and then gradually unwrap the rest as you
place them in position. Put the bubble wrap and cardboard into the storage boxes until the end of the holidays,
when it is time to pack the lights away again.
One final tip. If you don't like a particular set of lights, or if they are not working properly, be ruthless
and throw them away! Then make a note in your Planner that you need to replace them next year, and do so early
before the stocks in the stores become limited.