Christmas Lights

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  • In our attempt to be frugal, my husband and I save our mini XMAS light strands from year to year and attempt to reuse them. We put them in the storage box and they work, we take them out and most of them don't! It is so frustrating. DH just spend two hours trying to make the darn things work with extra bulbs and finally just gave up and went to the hardware store to buy more mini lights.

    The first strand out of the box lit up and then seconds (maybe 5) later they stopped. He is sooooo frustrated. So, I've got two questions:

    1. Do any of you reuse lights year to year and do they work?

    2. Any idea what I could do with the little bulbs and the strands for that matter of the lights that don't work?

  • We have been using the same lights for 7 years now. This is the first year I had to replace a few.

    I am assuming that we are talking about regluar xmas lights (the little clear ones and not the bulb-y type).

    I always keep one strand of half working lights so if a light bulb does blow out, I can use that strand and take out a light to replace it. This strand only has bulbs that DO work in it and is NEVER plugged in.
  • Shawn,

    I relayed this to my husband and he said "I must be cursed". Anyway he wonders how you store them and if, by chance, you remember what brand you are using. These are not the screw in bulby type. Thanks.
  • We also have a trash set that has only working lights on it. When a bulb goes out on our strands that we use, we just exchange it with one of the working ones.

    We bought our bulbs at Wal-Mart about 9 years ago. We also bought a box that came with cardboard dividers that we wrap the bulbs around each year. This was strictly a seasonal item and I haven't seen the boxes since that time, but you could probably set up your own system similar to that one.

    Our problem is those darn blinker bulbs. It seems like we are constantly buying those each year.
  • Christmas lights
    It has never even occurred to me to throw away Christmas lights and buy new ones every year. Each year, before I start putting up the Christmas decorations, I gather all the lights and test them by plugging them in.

    I make a pile of the ones that work fine, and one of the ones that are having problems. I sit and figure out what the problem is, i check the fuses first if the strand has them, they are the little tube things that are in the plug on most lights. Then, I take a bulb that i know works, and go down the strand replacing it to see if there is a bulb that is burnt out.

    Most lights now, if there is one bulb burned out, it doesnt cause the whole strand to be out. Only if a bulb is actually missing will the whole strand be out. I can usually get all the strands working. Occasionally, on the strands that are outside, a rabbit or something will chew through, those have to be thrown away. I hardly ever have to pitch a strand of lights though. Of course before I throw away a strand of lights, I take out the working bulbs and the fuses to put in my ziploc back of "spare parts" It takes a little time and patience, but its worth the effort. I still buy a couple of strands every year, but i buy more than i pitch. I have lots and lots of lights! The lights are one of my favorite things about Christmastime.

    Then, when I take the lights down, I wind them up into neat bundles, so I dont have a tangled mess next year and put them in the box of Christmas decorations for next year. Hope this helps some.

  • Christmas Lights
    I am pretty much repeating what most have already posted. I have never thrown out Christmas lights either. We reuse the same ones year after year. Sometimes we buy new ones if we like the style but we have so many lights we are actually giving some away to friends this year. When we are done with the lights we wrap them up neatly and store them away in our attic. We we put up lights we take out each set and plug them in to see if they work. Then if they dont my husband will find the bad bulb and replace it with another one. We have alot of lights, my husband has a thing about liking to decorate in a big way....that's another story. I would just say to make sure you wrap them up good and store them safely where they are not getting crushed. I cant imagine why they never work, somebodys husband on this board said bad luck and i have to And someone else said to save a strand that doesnt work and use the bulbs for extra which is an excellent idea. We have a container that has extra bulbs of all kinds in it from all different strands. Good Luck!
  • Of course, we save the lights...I even inherited three sets from my grandmother 7 years ago when she passed away. (only 1 set didn't work). I have lights that I bought over 14 years ago that still work (by replacing a few burnt out ones). After Christmas, I always make sure to buy a few of the packages of "extra" lights that Kmart & Walmart sell (on clearance!) to keep "just in case" for next year.

    But then, I was blessed several years ago, when I had to purchase extra lights (for a bigger tree). They came with a plastic insert (kinda' shaped like an H) that I have used for storage of all my lights which are intact. I just wrap them around it every year...keeps them from getting tangled like they used to. Of course, I have to remember to wind them around "backwards" (plug-in side last) so that I can also use the packaging to "pass" them string around the tree...LOL, that's the one problem I have.
  • Small Non-working Christmas Lights
    If you have a string that is absolutely unusuable, you might try using the wire to craft fabric Christmas swags.
  • Oh Julie, throw the non-working strands out right away. There may be a short in the wire and a fire can start. Of course if there only is a few bulbs out replacing them is the way to go. I always pull the working bulbs off a bad strand and keep them separate. Why save a whole strand-each year you have to retest the whole thing and you will save on storage space too.

    To help with holiday expenses I decorate other peoples Christmas trees, we have seen almost everything. The worst lights I've found so far are from Toys R Us. They started crackling right out of the box and felt hot, then 1/2 of them didn't even light up. Told the owner to buy all new lights or we weren't going to do her tree. She was out to Target in a few minutes!
    Be careful too, certain types of lights can only have so many put "end to end" before they may begin to short out.

    Another way to store them after the season (so they don't tangle) is to wrap them around old paper towel tubes.

    Happy Lighting!!!
  • My hubby is in charge of the lights; I bought him a light tester (kmart, walmart & target) for $5 or $10. Saves a TON of time. The older sets wouldn't work if one light was out, but the ones they've been selling for the past 8 years or so don't have that problem (just if a bulb is MISSING). Most likely its the fuses. There's usually a little "door" in the plug where they go. As long as you don't have a really off-brand they should be easy & inexpensive to replace.

    Also, as frugal as I am, I won't spend more than 15 minute trying to troubleshoot a $5 strand of lights--the big icicle light strands, well that's another story.

    We also have some strands that are over 15 years old. Talk about tradition! (Hubby likes to do the lights up in a BIG way here, too! Must be a guy thing.)