Whenever I think of pulling the holiday lights out of the box to sort through and hang, I always picture that scene from Christmas Vacation with the humongous knot of lights that Rusty has to sort through. In the movie, it is a welcome respite from spending time indoors with the extended family, but in real life, it's just a headache.
Now, every holiday is getting a string of lights. I have orange lights for Halloween and so many Christmas lights, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time until Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day and the Fourth of July get in on the action too. I need a way to store them all without making myself crazy.
I got this idea from the way my dad has stored his Christmas lights for years. He would wrap the strands around the box the lights came in. I decided it'd be a good idea to do the same, but I ran into a few problems. First of all, for the most part, lights don't come in long, thin boxes any longer, and if they do, the boxes are really flimsy. And secondly, I move a lot, and the lights get all jumbled and end up falling off their boxes and into a big mess in the holiday tub. So, I tried to fix those problems by using some spare corrugated cardboard and some scissors.
First, you start at one end by making a slit with a notch at the end. This is where you will start your cord. (I got the idea to do the post after I already got started - hence the lights wrapped around the board.)
Then, make triangular notches the length of the board at whatever interval you like. I did a notch about every inch. I think making the whole edge notched is a good idea, but I didn't think of it til I was done. Now you just wrap your lights down the length of your board. Be careful that you don't overlap too much because you'll end up with a tangle when you take them off later.
The handy thing about his method is that you can pull your lights out of storage, plug them in and see if you have any bad bulbs or strands.
You can easily see in the picture there is one orange bulb that needs to be replaced.
If you have your lights all jumbled together, it's almost impossible to see dead lights or to figure out which strand has gone bad. I find it's easier (it will never be easy) to check each bulb on a bad strand without everything getting tangled up. I also store the extra bulbs taped to the board. That way you know which strand they belong to, and you can make easy repairs.
Now your lights are ready for storage until next year.