What to Do with Non-functioning Christmas Lights
It’s time. You reluctantly waited until after Thanksgiving (your friends make fun of you if you don’t), but now – now you can turn on the Christmas music, drink hot chocolate, and decorate for your favorite holiday, and no one will know you’ve secretly been listening to Christmas carols since October.
Whether you pulled out your tree from the attic or chopped it down with mighty force at the tree farm, it’s a big accomplishment to get it all set up and ready with twinkling lights. And just as you prepare to circle around a third time with your string of lights, you notice, with increasing disappointment, that half the strand won’t light.
It’s okay to admit that a little rage was sparked inside of you. It’s okay to say that there was more color in your language than there was on the tree. It’s okay because we all know how you feel.
However, when that rage hits, it can be tempting to chuck the cursed strand into the trashcan and vow to stop decorating forever. But don’t do it.
There’s still hope for that strand of lights. And your Christmas cheer.
Here’s what to do with non-functioning Christmas lights:
Repair the Light String
Many of us out there aren’t exactly – uh – handy when it comes to electrical issues. Luckily, there are people in the world who are and who’ve done an excellent job in giving instructions and creating tools to help out the rest of us.
One such tool worth investing in is called the LightKeeper, an original name for a tool that helps keep the lights around longer, even after they’ve failed.
The LightKeeper, which you can get for a mere 20 bucks (a minor cost compared to the expense of purchasing new light sets) has the ability to identify where electrical currents stop, as well as which bulbs may need replaced.
This is incredibly helpful for the artificial trees that are pre-lit. Who wants to throw away a tree that was $200 in the first place? And let’s face it: when a light strand costs roughly the same as a gallon or two of gas, you’d probably prefer the fuel over replacing your Christmas lights.
The good news is that you don’t always have to replace your light sets. Tools like the LightKeeper allow you to plug into the strand, pump it with electrical current, and it will light up every bulb but the ones that need replaced. This makes it easy to spot where repair is needed.
So, remember that baggie of little bulbs that came with your strand? For those of you who just toss that in the trash or in a box to get lost, those bulbs can actually save you a lot of money. Replacement bulbs are there for a reason; use them to fix the strands you already have.
Recycle the Strand
If repairing isn’t an option, and honestly, sometimes it isn’t an option due to the way strands are manufactured, your next option is to recycle the strand.
Recycling is actually a really great opportunity to help the environment as it allows many of the parts of the strand to be reused. From the wires to the glass to the plastic fittings, when strands are recycled, they get crushed into little pieces and sorted out by each of these components. In this way, they go on to make new strands or help build additional products in other ways.
Aside from the environmental impact, recycling light strands can actually be beneficial to your wallet. Many companies out there give you a discount on your purchase of new LED light strands when you turn in your old ones. Home Depot offers anywhere from $3-5 off new sets. HolidayLEDS offers a 15% discount on purchases at their site.
However you decide to go about your Christmas light fiasco, know that there are other options than kicking them with your foot. With a handy tool like the LightKeeper, you may actually be able to save whole strands and pre-lit trees. If that doesn’t work, recycle them and start putting together a collection of longer lasting, energy-efficient LED lights. Whatever you choose to do, don’t let those broken lights dampen your holiday spirit!
Megan Wild writes about new ways to reuse and reduce home decor on her blog, Your Wild Home.