It’s the holiday decorating moment of truth: Plug in the lights and hope they all glow.

Cheer as they twinkle around the tree, or scowl as they tangle, half dark and half light. Jiggle a little here, tighten a bulb there and maybe they’ll blink to life. Or not.

If there’s just no saving the not-so-twinkly strand, don’t throw them in the trash. Santa’s environmentally friendly helpers at the Recycling Association of Minnesota will gladly take them off your hands. Drop them off for free at hundreds of sites statewide, listed at

The success of the annual collection has surprised its organizers.

“We really didn’t know exactly how much we would get initially,” said Maggie Mattacola, director of the recycling association.

Minnesotans have turned in nearly 650,000 pounds of lights since Recycle Your Holidays started in 2009. Mattacola said a 100-bulb strand of lights weighs about a pound.

“We’re happy that they are recycling those lights instead of just throwing them away,” Mattacola said. People with disabilities at vocational centers across Minnesota separate the bulbs from wires so that both parts can be recycled.

The association is encouraging those who ditch old lights to get the LED spirit for energy-saving festivities.

Yet even the most efficient lights get tangled. That’s OK. Fussing with finicky lights is practically a holiday tradition. □