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Everyone loves the Christmas tree—so long as it’s standing proudly upright and is already fully decorated. Sure, some people enjoy artfully stringing lights on the evergreen boughs and relish the opportunity to rediscover cherished ornaments that have languished in storage for so many months. But nobody likes taking down the Christmas tree. Fortunately, with a few simple tips, you can complete this dreaded annual task more efficiently and without major hassles.
Prepping the area
Start the process of taking down the Christmas tree by laying an old sheet (or a workshop drop cloth) at the evergreen’s base. If you’ve done this before, you know that needles are likely to fall as you work, so this step will save you some cleanup later on. Do you have a lot of fragile ornaments? Consider putting down some towels to keep them safe in case they fall while you’re removing decorations.
Taking down the ornaments
• Remove the ornaments at the bottom of the tree first. That way, you limit the likelihood that you’ll unintentionally knock any down with your body.
• To protect ornaments while they’re in storage, take the time to wrap them in tissue paper or used gift wrap.
• Liquor boxes with dividers are the perfect no-cost repository for off-season storage of ornaments.
• For small ornaments and other diminutive holiday accents, recycled egg cartons work well as storage containers.
• Once you have removed them from the tree, wrap string lights around cardboard paper towel rolls to keep them organized and untangled until next year.
Disposing of the tree
• Use a turkey baster to draw out any water that remains in the Christmas tree stand.
• Remove the tree skirt; if it’s covered with needles, shake them onto the sheet you’ve laid down.
• Spread the sheet to its full dimensions, laying the tree down horizontally over it. Take off the stand.
• Gather the sheet around the tree like a sling, then use it to carry the tree outside.
Next year, make disposal easier with a Christmas tree bag. Before putting up the tree, place the bag under the stand. After the holiday is over, just pull the bag up and over the tree and tie it off with twine. Then you carry the tree outside and remove it from the bag. Most stray needles will be caught in the bag.
In addition to leaving your tree curbside, most communities around the country have a Christmas tree recycling program in place where discarded Christmas trees are chipped into mulch for gardens (including yours) or shredded for use on paths and hiking trails. In areas where soil erosion is an issue, discarded Christmas trees can be effective sand and soil barriers and help aid sedimentation management. You can even put the tree in the backyard to become a bird feeder and sanctuary or, if you have a fish pond, submerge it where it can serve as an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.
Where to begin? The National Christmas Tree Association–together with Earth911.org, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based conservation group–offer a zip code locator to help you find a suitable treecycling solution near you. Check it out and start the New Year off right–and green!
Pine needles are stubborn. They get stuck in carpeting, and some remain even after you vacuum. Here’s a trick: Sprinkle baking soda onto the area prior to vacuuming to help the needles slide out of the carpet fibers. Because pine needles are not good for a vacuum, use a broom and dustpan whenever possible.
Try to make taking down the Christmas tree a fun tradition. Put on a movie marathon while you work, or plan to celebrate completing the task with a special hot cocoa recipe or a delicious snack. You’ll have to wait another 11 months until next Christmas, so enjoy every last second of the season this year!