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Christmas Tree Cleanup

Martha Stewart Living, Volume 55 December/January 1997/1998

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.

Comments (20)

  • saintivy 28 Dec, 2011

    I always put my Christmas Tree up either the day before ThanksGiving or the day after. I leave it up until the fifthteen of January. As a continuation of the celebration of Christmas, which is Jesus's Birthday,on January 5th or 6th is the arrival of the Three Kings. I don't rush the Holiday. I try to get as much time as I can from my Christmas Tree and decorations as I can.

  • sgidley 28 Dec, 2011

    I agree with countrygirl02. We are going to have our Christmas/New Year party this Sat. I spent a lot of time decorating and now I get to enjoy it. Besides, it felt like Christmas came pretty fast this year.

  • countrygirl02 28 Dec, 2011

    I follow these suggestions every year because they work. I absolutely chip my branches because going 'green' is so important! However, Christmas is not over on Dec 26. The Coming of the Kings is celebrated on Jan 6 when the Magi visited the manger so lets not rush to push this season out of our hearts and homes.

  • Sprayberry 28 Dec, 2011

    Any idea where to purchase the cardboard dividers?

  • kitkat0708 4 Jan, 2011

    wow i wonder how many peoples have a tree chipper to shred there tree.

  • DHeart 3 Jan, 2011

    Enjoy the season! While the outside decorations come down around New Year's Day, we always leave up the tree for another week or so. So many people nowadays rush-rush to put up the tree before the Thanksgiving pies have even cooled, and then rush to take it down before New Years... it's so sad. Take time, relax, enjoy life, breathe.... try to stop some of the "hurry sickness."

  • rock63roll64 28 Dec, 2010


  • Navymom79 28 Dec, 2010

    I so agree with you on slowing down and enjoying what you have worked so hard ot put be honest my tree doesn't come down till the end of January. Our first snow doesn't usually make it till after christmas in Oklahoma. So I leave it up to enjoy it with our first snow. And I never have time before Christmas to enjoy it.

  • marielasauvagesse 28 Dec, 2010

    More support for Green Goddess. I suppose everyone is entitled to their own traditions, such as putting the tree up just after (or even before) Thanksgiving. But the fact of the matter is that the Christmas season (a season, not just a day) is not over until January 6, which is Epiphany. Wouldn't it be nice if we all slowed down a bit and quit the practice of racing to get done with one thing just to get on to the next? Enjoy it. A Merry Christmas to all...on the 28th!

  • Elidagail 28 Dec, 2010

    and New Year's Day is for visiting. Christmas decorations should come down on the 6th of January. We need to give ourselves time to enjoy the holidays...not tackle it like a battle and wear ourselves out.

  • Elidagail 28 Dec, 2010

    Come on people, it's the holidays and the Green Goddess has it right. We Americans put more pressure on ourselves then is necessary. Christmas evening is when our european ancestors started celebrating; and the twelve days of Christmas has a great schedule of holidays...Boxing Day, celebrated on the first working day after the 25th is a day to show appreciation to those who serve us well all year- the mailman, paperboy, trash collectors, bank tellers, etc. New Year's Eve is for revelry and Ne

  • HeyItsClio 28 Dec, 2010

    Green Goddess, while the "12 Days of Christmas" last until early January, my homeowner association would have a fit if Christmas decorations (exterior of house, anyway) were still up in February.

  • JennasNonna 28 Dec, 2010

    Green Goddess in my opinion you are a little late for Christmas decorating and baking. I have had my tree up since December 1 and by New Years day I am ready to take it down. I love Christmas but enough is enough. I like it when my home gets back to normal.

  • crazyknit 28 Dec, 2010

    We put up our tree the weekend immediately after Thanksgiving. So after over a month of Christmas, I am ready to take it down and clean up.

  • cheeztrick 28 Dec, 2010

    Dear Green Goddess,
    Some of us have kids with early January birthdays and we put our Christmas decorations away before the next big event takes place. We will enjoy the Christmas season . . . until January.

  • jmurphynyc 28 Dec, 2010

    calm down back away from the cookie cutter.

  • Green_Goddess 28 Dec, 2010

    This tip is too EARLY. It is only the third day of Xmas. Christmas lasts until January 6th. This year, I did not even get my tree decorated until Dec. 26th so I will be leaving it up extra long, possibly until February. It DEPRESSES me to hear people talk as if Xmas is over. IT'S NOT OVER YET!!!! IT"S STILL XMAS!!! I will be baking Xmas cookies this weekend, and I still have some decorations to put up around the house.

  • TitleJunction 28 Dec, 2010

    Great idea!

  • Rmac60 28 Dec, 2009

    aother way to recycle old tissue paper is to use it for those ornaments!

  • Ellorysgirl 2 Jan, 2008

    People should be aware that certain evergreens have a kind of acid in the bark/wood that will kill plants. Any mulch from a recycled Christmas tree should age at least a year before it is used. A friend killed most of 5,000 evergreen seedlings by using "green" mulch.