It’s that odd-yet-wonderful limbo period between Christmas and New Year’s Day when many of us are finishing up leftovers, bidding relatives farewell, and wondering if we can exchange that sweater from Aunt Susan without a receipt. As we prep for any planned New Year’s party we might be throwing / attending, this is also a good time to start thinking about cleaning up some of those wonderful holiday decorations. While you may want to put off packing up the wreath, stockings, etc., if you opted for a live Christmas tree, it’s a good idea to get it out the door sooner rather than later to avoid falling needles, fire hazards, and the depressing knowledge that it’s February and you have a six-foot-tall dead plant in the middle of the living room.
Because throwing away an entire tree isn’t exactly regular trash, it’s a good idea to do an online search for your local waste management service's rules on Christmas tree pick-ups— some will and some won’t, but those who will often restrict it to a specific time window in late December / early January, so do a quick check on the dates and plan accordingly.
Often local botanical gardens will accept discarded trees for recycling (sometimes you can even get a load of mulch for your own yard or garden in return). Usually you have to drop the tree off there, so it’s helpful to partner with a neighbor or two and use someone’s truck, van, etc. to transport the trees.
If none of those options work for your particular situation, you can also investigate turning the tree in to a private yard waste facility or your local landfill (look online for contact info and perhaps give them a call to make sure they’re still accepting trees before you drive yours over there.)
A time-saving option that also helps the community is to check and see if any local nonprofits offer pickup service in exchange for a donation (often tax deduct-able), such as Boy Scouts Troop 270 in Newtown Connecticut:
You may be tempted to just break up the tree and toss it into the fireplace or wood-burning stove, but steer clear of this mode of disposal— Christmas tree wood tends to burn particularly hot and can release sparks and creosote, all of which put your home and personal safety at risk. If you do want to keep the tree on hand as firewood, thoroughly dry it out and use it only in an outdoor fire pit (and even then, be on the lookout for sparks). For more on safety issues check out these articles from Romper and TJ’s Chimney Service of Indiana.
A fun alternative to burning the tree yourself is to see if your community hosts a (professionally monitored) Christmas tree bonfire. A great example is the annual Old Newbury Christmas Tree Bonfire Party in Newbury, MA, where residents turn in their trees in the days leading up to the party then gather at a local farm for food, music, games, and a celebratory bonfire executed by the local fire department.
There’s also no rule that you have to get rid of your tree at all— the National Christmas Tree Association has some great ideas on their website for options like using Christmas trees as soil erosion barriers and bird and fish feeders.
If you're into composting, you can also use the branches as a base layer for a new compost pile (they create space for that all-important air flow). You can see details on this and more tips from The Spruce on using your Christmas tree for gardening here.
Regardless of the method you choose to dispose of your tree, make sure you’ve removed all tinsel, garland, ornaments, etc. before sending it on its merry way. And from everyone here at Swanky Party Box, we wish you a very safe and happy start to the new year!