Christmas tree light hacks to avoid arguments this festive season

Easy tips to avoid tangles and make your lights look as dazzling as possible

Decorated Christmas tree in a country style brown living room, white sofa, cushions, fireplace, lit fire, decorated mantelpiece, large mirror, coffee table
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Decorating the Christmas tree is one of the most joyous parts of the year, especially when the whole family gets involved, but the one thing that can easily ruin it is tangled lights.  Christmas tree light hacks will ensure that muddled up lights, and arguments, are a thing of the past this year. 

Christmas lights can easily become wound up and tangled while sitting in the box for most of the year, making decorating take twice as long. You also want your Christmas decor to look as dazzling and bright as possible, so handy tips on ensuring your lights are in good working order will upgrade your tree. 

And before you know it it'll be time to take the tree down. It's a dreaded task as it is, without making things worse by getting into a frustrated, tangled mess with fairy lights. So, here are some savvy Christmas tree light hacks that will keep your Christmas lights untangled for good.

Christmas tree light hacks that make life simpler

A Christmas tree is the centrepiece of your home - the spot where presents sit before the big day and the shining star of your living room over the festive season. And while it will look superb once decorated, we aim to make that process as simple as possible with these Christmas tree light hacks. 

Christmas lights available from The White Company

(Image credit: The White Company)

1. Use cardboard

A simple yet effective trick that will prevent future tangle nightmares is to use cardboard as a makeshift light holder. All you need to do is chop a large rectangle of card and create a notch in each end. You can then wrap your lights around them so they stay nice and neat. 

You can do the same thing with an old kitchen roll tube, too. The notches keep the lights in place and the sturdy cardboard keeps them contained in your Christmas decorations box. All you'll have to do next year is unwind and enjoy. 

2. Invest in a smart plug

A Christmas-decorated living room with a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Smart plugs can save energy and therefore money on electricity bills. That’s because appliances and devices which are set to standby rather than being switched off or unplugged at the wall can sap energy around the clock. Instead, smart plugs, turn sockets off, slaying these so-called ‘vampire’ appliances once and for all. We recommend opting for an Amazon-compatible smart plug if you have the set-up already, as it will fit right into your smart home system. 

Katie Georgeson, of 4lite, commented: 'A smart plug is small but mighty in its ability to save time and a whole load of scrambling about whether it’s under a Christmas tree or those hard-to-reach sockets. With a smart plug, you can have fuss-free control over your Christmas decorations so they look great and can be enjoyed instantly.'

3. Don't forget to test them

Whitewashed Rattan Braided Christmas Tree Skirt

(Image credit: The White Company)

Little is more frustrating than adding your lights to the tree, meticulously placing all of your baubles on and then realising the lights don't work. So make sure you test them beforehand to check that each bulb is in good working order. 

'If you don’t have a pre-lit tree and are using string Christmas tree lights, test them first – there’s nothing more frustrating than painstakingly placing them - only to find that they don’t work!' advises Danielle Le Vaillant, head of photography & film at Cox & Cox

'Make sure you have enough to reach the top of your tree – you may need a couple of sets. Depending on the position of your tree, cover just the front two-thirds of the tree with your lights. Wind the lights around the tree from left to right, starting from the bottom. If your tree is displayed in, for instance, a bay window and viewed from all sides, you will need to surround the whole tree and perhaps add an extra set of lights.'

4. Try twist ties or cable ties

detail image of Christmas tree with gold and sage green ribbons, gold decorations, fireplace in background

(Image credit: Neptune)

Twist ties and cable ties are dirt cheap, and are more commonly used to tie garden plants to canes or tidying and securing cables. You only need three of either of them for this festive trick.

First, wrap the lights around your fist so they form loose loops about 30cm long. Then tie one twist or secure one cable tie at each end and another in the middle. Store them in a bin bag until next year and give yourself a mince pie to say well done.

5. Wrap the whole tree

Why worry about taking the lights off and storing them, when you could just wrap them up - tree and all - in cling film? Then just put your tree away and get it out next year, all ready to sparkle.

6. Use the box

Living room with traditional christmas tree and frieplace

(Image credit: Future/Mary Wadsworth)

Still got the original box your lights came in? Wrap the lights around it with a bit of tape at each end to keep them in place. A simple storage solution that recycles something instead of throwing it away.

7. Repurpose clothes hangers

Upcycle for a simple and smart solution. 'Wrap your lights around an old clothes hanger, tying the ends over the hook to keep everything in place. Then you can hang them up in a cupboard to keep them out of the way and secure.' Just don't think use the same hanger for clothes.

8. Use a cord reel

A range of CHristmas lights available at Marks & Spencer

(Image credit: Marks & Spencer)

Typically used for really long extension cables, a cord reel is also a handy way to keep your Christmas lights tidy. Just attach one end of your lights to the reel and wind them up. It’s as simple as that.

They can cost as little as a couple of pounds, making them an inexpensive way of solving stress.

Thanks to these savvy tips the frustration of untangling the tree lights each year is a thing of Christmas' past.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street. 

With contributions from