I love the "Little knot here" scene from Christmas Vacation where he just hands Russ a huge ball of tangled lights.
Storage Methods I've Tried
I am talking about strands of 200+ outdoor mini-lights. If you have the huge kind that line the roofline, I would use the method on the following post for storing with cardboard for large C7 or C9 bulb strings. For shorter strands like most indoor ones, I like this method to pack short indoor mini lights.
I've tried using the cardboard from inside paper towel rolls, wrapping into a ball, coat hangers and for awhile I liked using the plastic bags from the grocery store was my favorite method until I discovered zip ties.
Use Zip Ties for Untangled Christmas Lights
Here's all you need to do. Wrap the lights around your elbow by making a hook around your thumb similar to how most people wrap up an extension cord. Once you've got the strand wrapped up, snap a zip tie around it. A second zip tie on the other side makes it nearly impossible to get a tangle. I normally just do a single zip tie and place things into the storage bin neatly.
So that's the easiest way to have untangled christmas lights when you go to put them up next year.
Here's what a strand that's ready to go in the storage bin looks like:
Advice for Next Year
To keep from getting tangles, I take the zip tied strands out and set them next to where I plan to use them. Then I only snip the zip tie when I am going to use that strand of lights.
If you like my tip for having tangle free Christmas lights, check out these links to advice for making it easy to put them up next year:
Putting Up Christmas Lights: 3 Tips to Save Time
Hang Christmas Lights In Outdoor Trees