Decorating your Christmas tree is a lot of fun, but when it comes to removing everything, it's the pits. Ornaments get caught in branches and Christmas lights refuse to leave their evergreen perch. How can you remove your Christmas lights from your tree without waging battle against them? Follow this step-by-step guide on how to take lights off of a Christmas tree properly.
Make sure that all the ornaments are off first. Before you can even start to remove the lights from your tree, you need to make sure that all the ornaments are off first. Do a quick once-over of the tree, and then have someone else look too. There's nothing worse than getting a strand of Christmas tree lights tangled up with an ornament. If you don't have any breakable ornaments, you may want to give the tree a little shake to see if anything hidden comes tumbling off of the tree.
Unplug the lights. As a safety precaution, unplug the lights of your Christmas tree. You're done with them now anyways, so there's no need to have them plugged in anymore. Each strand of lights should be separately unplugged to make for ease of winding later. (And if you're up to it, consider changing out any burnt out Christmas tree lights before you store them so that they'll be ready to go next year.)
Get a ladder if you need one. Depending on the height of your tree, you may need a ladder to reach the strands of lights at the top of your Christmas tree. Position a stool or a ladder as close to your tree as possible (without toppling it). Give yourself the best angle for reaching both the top of the tree and around to the back of the tree.
Start from the top. To remove Christmas tree lights without tangling them, it's a good idea to start from the top of the tree. Find the end of the light strand that you left at the top of the tree and start to remove it. Don't tug on the strand or it will likely just become entangled in the branches of your Christmas tree (making for a very painful extraction). Instead, wind the strand of lights around the tree in the opposite direction that you placed them on there. If you can't reach to unwind the lights on the far side of the tree, enlist the help of a willing family member to grab the lights as you wind them around the far side of the tree and pass them around to you on the other side. This is the best method for unwinding a string of lights without tangling them up.
Be methodical. The most important thing that you must remember when you take lights off of a Christmas tree is that you must be methodical in your approach. Take off one strand at a time, working from the top of the tree to the bottom. Unplug each strand as you come to it, and don't move on to another strand until the previous one is safely wound up or stored. You definitely don't want to leave yourself a jumbled mess of Christmas tree lights after you worked so hard to keep them untangled when coming off the tree.
Use a storage aid like a winder to keep your lights neat and tidy. As you take each strand of lights off of the tree, wrap it around something. Don't just leave it in a pile or you'll dread decorating the tree next year because of the giant knot of lights you'll have. Consider getting a strand "winder" - these are plastic spools meant just for Christmas tree lights that keep each strand separate and free from tangles, and likely your local dollar store will carry quite a selection around the holidays.