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How To Remove Old Pre-Lit Lights From Your Christmas Tree

So, you buy a pre-lit Christmas tree for the plug-n-play convenience, but nothing lasts forever. A lot of the time you can save the lights and I talk about how to try in When Your Pre-Lit Christmas Tree Lights Don’t Work. However, there comes a time when you can no longer camouflage an outage or replace burnt out bulbs. When you get to that point, you might think about throwing out your tree and starting with a new one. Instead, you should consider taking off or removing the old lights.

removing pre-lit lights

Why Remove Pre-Lit Lights

You could just not plug in the pre-lit lights, which I have done in years past. However, you still have these dead bulbs on the tips of your branches. Some of these lights were clear, but most of them were black from being burnt out. Since I have taken the time to remove the pre-lit lights, the tree looks much better. Now I can add my own LED lights and this tree is as good as new.

Why Not Buy A New Tree

This particular tree was pretty expensive when I bought it about nine years ago. Sure, I guess I have gotten my money’s worth out of it if you consider I have used it for nine Christmases. But, I would much rather spend that amount of money on new decorations for my old tree than I would on a new tree. Also, this tree is the perfect size for my home and it’s light enough that I can assemble it myself. I just really like this tree, so I’m going to hang on to her indefinitely.

Step 1: Cut Wire Near Base or Trunk

Don’t be afraid to cut! You don’t have to worry about taking the cords off in one piece. You are never going to use these lights again! Cut away! Be sure to cut close to the base or trunk of the tree and then cut each wire that has a light.

Step 2: Cut All Wires With Lights

Make sure to cut each wire you see that has a light. If the light are attached to the tree with a twist tie or C-clamp, cut below this area.

Step 3: Pull Out The Lights and Wires

After you have made your cuts, you should be able to pull out the lights and wires. If you need to make additional cuts, go for it. Also, cut the main cords and wires from the trunk and pull those out as well.

Step 4: Repeat

Keep going. You can do it. Repeat this process on each branch. This doesn’t take as long as I thought it would. Once I found my groove, I could probably do this 9 foot slim tree in about 6 hours or so. I am going to do this to my larger 12 foot tree, so I’ll time myself and see how long that takes.

Pro Tips For Removing Pre-Lit Lights

  • Work in sections.
    • If I have convinced you to remove your pre-lit lights, then start with the top section of your tree. You can probably hold this one in your lap. You can do your entire tree without having to stand on a ladder. After you have finished the top section, use your tree stand and do the other sections standing up in the tree stand. You can either put sections together or switch out the sections you have in the stand, but I would not assemble the tree and stand on a ladder for any of this. Ideally you can sit in a chair for the entire project.
  • You can tie up the branches you have completed to get them out of the way while you work on the branches below.
  • Use a new, sharp pair of wire cutters. Here are the ones I bought from Amazon.


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