GIMME SHELTER- Lights out: Store holiday lights for less stress in 2009

Jim Harshaw
Albemarle Window Cleaning, Holiday Lighting Specialists


Q: Every year its such a hassle breaking out our Christmas decorations and lights– they're either tangled, broken, don't function correctly, or damaged from having been stored for a year. Any tips on minimize next year's stress with some preparation this year?

A: Most people I talk to ask about storage. I would say that just as important as storage is labeling and documenting.

Be sure to label all boxes clearly with what is in them. Further, if you have outdoor lighting, be sure to draw a sketch of where displays are plugged in and what goes where. If you have lighting on your roofline make a note of where they start and end. Store this sketch with the lights and decorations.

Wreaths should be stored in a container that will allow it to retain it's shape. If it came in a box, the box could be saved for storage. A plastic sealable bin is ideal. Storing an artificial tree is similar. However, a commercially available Christmas tree bag is best. As for ornaments, the original box is a good way to store them though many pack them in larger boxes with newspaper. This is less than ideal in case the box deteriorates or gets wet. This can also attract mice nests or insects. The best way is to purchase ornament chests or containers specifically designed to store your ornaments.

Light strands can be easily stored if they are wrapped loosely into a ball. Take the female plug end in your hand and begin wrapping the strand around it. When you get to the end simply tuck the male plug end under a piece of the wire, and you're done. No tangles, no mess; and they store neatly. Again, a plastic storage bin is best. Next year simply plug the exposed male end into the socket and unravel the ball as you go. This is especially helpful, maybe even a necessity, when wrapping tree branches.

 For large displays with a hundred or more strands of mini lights, you may end up with a dozen or more non-functioning strands. Buy replacements this year while they are on sale after the holidays. As for the bad strands, instead of throwing these in the trash, you can do the green thing and recycle them at a scrap metal yard like Coiner's in Charlottesville. You'll even get a few dollars to take home with you!

It's simply, really. Just try to remember what problems and guesswork you had upon installation back in late November or early December, and plan to eliminate these problems next year so you can enjoy your holidays even more.