An Editor's Trick to Taking Down a Christmas Tree Without the Mess

All you need is an old bed sheet.

In the days that follow after December 24 (or New Year's Day, or even beyond if you're half-hearted in letting go of the holiday spirit), the to-do list involves writing thank-you cards, un-stringing the lights, reorganizing the home, and the biggest task of them all: dismantling the Christmas tree itself.

Man setting up a Christmas tree in the living room with son and dog sitting on a couch
Elizabeth Sallee Bauer / Getty Images

Before you do, you'll need to first remove the ornaments, lights, garlands, and ribbons. Take down the topper and disassemble the skirt, if you display those, too. As you remove them, carefully wrap each one in tissue or packing paper, and place them into a storage box. Fill any unused space in your box with extra packing paper (or discarded gift wrap) to prevent movement, and be sure to place your most delicate items on top (this will ensure that they are safely unpacked first).

But how do you take down a Christmas tree without making a mess? Follow these steps to keep needles, water, and stray branches from littering your floor.

christmas tree removal cloth sheet illustration
Brown Bird Design

First, lay a drop cloth or old bed sheet on the floor next to the tree. Remove the tree from the stand. Wrap the trunk in a towel to soak up excess water.

wrapping tree in sheet illustration
Brown Bird Design

Place the tree on its side on the sheet and wrap the whole tree in the cloth, making sure the branches are enclosed.

man removing tree outdoors illustration
Brown Bird Design

Remove the tree trunk-first through your door to keep branches from catching on the door frame and breaking off. Then, remove the towel and sheet.

Before hauling your tree out with the trash, it's best to research your local recycling options. In most residential areas, your curbside recycling program will pick up your tree, but only for a week or two after Christmas. (If you need help disposing after this, you may need to call for pick-up services). Once collected, these evergreens are shredded and chipped into mulch, soil erosion barriers, and hiking trail material. If you are able to transport the tree yourself, check to see if your neighborhood has collection sites or events—you may even receive free mulch. (Even better, if it still has the roots, you can replant your Christmas tree in the spring.) For more information about recycling trees visit the National Christmas Tree Association.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles