We've got the tree and the lights up, last Friday after Thanksgiving when the weather was sunny and relatively warm (no need for gloves!), so we get a couple of weeks of holiday sparkle in the living room.
This morning I tried out what seems almost a magical little device, the Lightkeeper Pro. (Watch out if you click on the link here--you'll get the repeated sound of this little device doing its magic--very annoying. The videos, though, give a good look at what the gizmo can do.)
Basically, when you've got a dead section of mini-lights, or a dead string, you pull one dead bulb, hook the socket to the gun, and pull the trigger. When I tried it, the dead bulbs lit, I put in a new bulb, repeated the process, and voila! I had a fully lit tree. Sweet! It took about two minutes.
I got mine at Jones Ace Hardware here in Madison, SD.