The radio stations have stopped playing Christmas music, the lights are coming down, and everyone’s getting ready for New Years celebrations. Meanwhile, that live Christmas tree you and your family had so much fun chopping down and decorating is becoming more of a fire hazard with every passing day. Need some simple suggestions on how to recycle or repurpose your Christmas tree? Read ahead for some out-of-the-box ideas to give your old Christmas tree new purpose.

Packing Up the Tree

First thing’s first: when the time comes, you need to get the tree out of the house. We all love the wistfulness and warmth a Christmas tree brings our home, but once it dries out and those needles fall, that cheerful tree becomes a fire hazard.

To pack up your tree, have the following items handy:

  • plastic tree bag or sheet
  • grocery bag
  • bucket
  • broom

First, take off all the ornaments, tinsel and decorations. Then wrap up the tree in the large bag or sheet. This will keep more needles from shaking off the branches as you move the tree.

Remove any leftover water from the tree stand either by unscrewing the tree and lifting it out or using a mug to remove the water into a bucket. When you lift the tree out, wrap up the stem with a plastic bag to prevent sap from seeping onto your flooring.

Remove the tree outside and you’re set to start cleaning up inside.

Cleaning Up Pine Needles

Many people’s first instinct is to whip out the vacuum and run it over the many pine needles. Don’t do it! vacuuming up a large amount of pine needles can clog your machine. Use a broom to sweep up as many as you can and then use the hose attachment on your vacuum to clean up the rest.

Recycle/Curbside Pickup

Some communities provide curbside pickup for Christmas trees. Search “Christmas tree curbside pickup” along with your city or county. Cut your tree into small sections so it’s easier for waste management employees to pick up.

If your community doesn’t offer curbside tree pickup, they may allow lawn clippings in clear bags. You may also be able to drop your tree off at a local recycling center.

Get Creative

You don’t have to send your old Christmas tree to a facility in order to recycle it. Get creative!

Do you have a backyard pond? Toss in your Christmas tree to serve as a shelter and feeding area for fish.

You can also use the branches as mulch for your trees and shrubs.

Want to get ready for next year? Cut the trunk into thin discs and decorate them with paint and ribbon to use as ornaments. You can also treat these discs and use them as coasters.

If you like bird watching, you can stand the tree up in your yard and place pine cones covered with peanut butter and bird seed.