Here's the best way to take down a Christmas tree:
1. Detach ornaments: Wrap them individually in tissue paper and return them to their boxes, or place them in sturdy plastic containers with cardboard dividers. Group the ornaments and label the boxes so next year you can find what you need easily.
2. Take down lights: Start where you finished when you put the lights up, and work backward. Wind each strand into a neat bundle, and place strands in separate plastic bags so they won't get tangled. Or wrap them on a spool (the way garden hoses are stored).
3. Take down the tree: If you used a plastic tree bag, envelop the tree and the stand, then take them outside. Once outside, remove the plastic and the stand, and discard the tree. If you haven't used a tree bag, take the tree out wrapped in a sheet. Or clip off the branches, bag them, and take them outside. Sweep up as many needles as you can, then vacuum the remaining dirt; needles aren't good for your vacuum cleaner.
Before you throw away the tree, you may want to remove small branches to use as mulch in the garden (or place the entire tree in a chipper-shredder to make a finer mulch). You may also wish to take your tree to a local recycling center.