Every year, I'm faced with the task of taking all my Christmas lights down and storing them in a way that is convenient, fast, and stores the lights with minimal stress and breakage. Here is a quick tip for storing lights quickly and safely.
Credit for this tip goes to a great group of Christmas light enthusiasts at PlanetChristmas.com.
Start with the light string at the female end (without the prongs) and wrap it around your hand with your fingers stretched out a little to help hold the string onto your hand.
Starting with the female end is what i prefer. It allows the plug end to be on the outside with you are done. You can then plug in the lights next year and simply unroll around the bush, tree, whatever.
Continue to wrap the string around your hand until half the string is on.
For example, with typical 100ct mini light strings with my hand size, it ends up being 10-12 turns around for half.
Once you have wrapped HALF of the string, carefully pull off the string from your hand. Turn the string 90 degrees and wrap the string around the bundle.
Keep wrapping the rest of the string around the section you've already done. Continue until you are at the end of the string with the (Male) plug end.
You can either choose to plug the ends together to hold the ball in place, or you can just tuck the plug end into the ball somewhere. I tend to do both, depending on where the plug ends up. I haven't really seen an advantage of one way over the other.
Storage of balled lights tends to be much easier and more compact. Hope this helps you with your lights!