How do you get rid of a Christmas tree?


If you haven’t yet taken down your Christmas tree, you’re going to want to read this post!


Here are ten simple steps to turn this dreaded task into a neat and tidy project…and get rid of your tree with ease!


After giving away my artificial tree (it lacked a certain authenticity I couldn’t live without) and wrestling with cut trees as a single woman (I was single forever), I gave up.


It was easy to “skip the tree” for two years in a row as married couple – mainly because of the dreaded struggle to remove lights and ornaments at the end of the season.  Aint nobody got time for that.  And no matter how many layers of clothing I wore when taking the tree down, I inevitably ended up with scratches on my face and arms and with dagger-like pine needles poking me all over and stuck in my hair.


Hard-to-reach ornaments got dropped and broken, light strands were tugged and damaged, my vacuum was clogged with pine needles, and the doorways and ceilings told the tales of Christmas trees past.  And always, the great reminder of my struggle, the dead tree, was left laying across the backyard fire pit, or in some obscure corner of the yard, until the fire ban was lifted and I could call in a county burn permit in the Spring.




I know, I know, this never happens to you because you’re much more tree savvy…or you hire someone, or you were married to a lumberjack at seventeen (but just in case).


I loved our tree this year!


Cedar Christmas tree decorated























We just had to have a Christmas tree with our daughter, Muffin, turning two (no more decorating the mantel and calling it quits) and so I agreed to soldier on for the sake of tradition, memories, and photographs, despite everything else that promoted flashbacks of my single-woman-tree-wrangling days.


It was much easier this time.


I had this little helper.


toddler christmas tree


























And my beloved went out like the Brawny paper towel man and cut a cedar in the woods……a his-side family tradition…with a battery-powered circular saw (a Hubs original)…and threw that conquered evergreen on the roof of our car.


We froze our arms off and felt like a scene from the most terrible movie ever made (Snow Piercer) as we drove slowly home, with hazard lights, gripping branches of our untied tree.  (The memories of this drive are still lingering in areas of the car that aren’t easily accessible by vacuum.  Oh, pine needles!)


That night, the tree (not looking promising at all) lay in the driveway, and then appeared on the back deck the next day, before magically appearing in the corner of my living room a couple of nights later while I tucked the baby in bed.  (Brawny man again.)


Cedar Christmas tree






















My ornament selection didn’t make a dent on our wild and rugged tree, that took up most of the room until it was trimmed back, so I foraged in my mom’s attic for more.


Then friends and family made priceless comments about our non-traditional Christmas tree.


“It’s sooo…interesting.”

“I’ve never seen a tree like that.”

“I like how it’s…see-through.”

“I wasn’t a fan at first, but now that you have it decorated….ya, it’s…it’s almost pretty!”

“A 3-dimensional tree, how ‘bout that.”


But it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.  And the night before it’s appointed demise (last night) we circled up the big cushy chairs in front of dried and decaying branches and said goodbye with the reading of the Christmas story (because I’d just found the Christmas Story – four days into the new year).


So I woke January 5th to meet, head on, the dreaded task of taking out my beloved cut tree.


The one that caused me to break out all over my arms in a rash and in crusty craziness around my eyes for the entire month of December.


cedar tree rash
Why do people post such gross photos on the Internet?


Yah, I loved our tree.  Next year, we’re going further north for a different species.


And Necessity, being the mother of invention, also intervened and showed me the light. So here’s another way to dispose of your tree without the hassle and long-term backyard eyesore.



1… Collect Your Stuff  – You’ll want:

A wide-mouthed container for branches (full-size laundry basket, large box, contractor bag, etc.).

A good pair of clippers (or several pairs in different sizes if you want to really shine as the pro you are).

Thick gloves.

Long sleeves.

Christmas storage bins (you needed those anyway).

Grocery sacks or gallon size storage bags for individual light strands.

Talk radio or good music.


taking down Christmas ornaments















2… Unplug Your Tree – Easy enough, right?  But don’t skip this step; it’s important.  And if you have your lights on a switched outlet like I do (I know, awesome, right?), don’t just hit the light switch – be sure to unplug everything from the wall.  I’m the daughter, sister x3, sister-in-law, and granddaughter of state licensed master electricians so I know you won’t die cutting low-voltage wiring but it won’t feel good, and you might have vintage lights, and well…just trust me on this one.


taking dow a Christmas tree

















3… Remove and Pack – Starting with easy to reach ornaments (this is like going for the low-hanging fruit). I always like to take off my ornament hooks too, because they’ll fall off anyway, and they don’t get lost and tangled, or scratch up the pretty stuff.


pretty ornament hooks
The most beautiful/impractical ornament hooks I’ve ever owned.















4… Start Your Cutting – Go for the branches that are now ornament-free to make way for getting to more ornaments, being careful not to cut any light strands.

If you’re sick of Christmas, this is an extremely therapeutic task.


disposing of Christmas tree
Bandage shears work great for the smaller outer branches.  (I have several pairs of these don’t think I could live without them, not that I would try.)

























5…Keep it Up – Continue alternately cutting branches and removing ornaments until you have nothing but a narrow and almost naked tree trunk. This goes really fast if you have two people.

The tree will be sufficiently dry at this point (after being in the indoors heat) so that thicker branches should easily bend or even snap in half making them easier for cutting. This gets a little scratchy so this is where the gloves and long sleeves (that I am obviously not yet wearing) come in.


Christmas tree removal
My nails are gone because we just started watching Season Six of “24” and Jack Bauer has had a lot of close calls.  (I’m just glad I still have fingers.)















6… Remove Your Lights – This is super easy now because your lights fit your Christmas tree like Jared the Subway Guy’s old pants fit the new him. Just drop ‘em.  Throw ’em aside.  Make a commercial about it if you want to.

And if you really love yourself, take the time to put each strand in its’ own separate bag.  It’ll be the best Christmas gift you give yourself next year.


how to get rid of a Christmas tree
I didn’t crop out the coffee cup…today it was tea…a very essential part of this process and not listed above.































7… Dump Your Branches – No eyesores here.  These can be released into a compost bin, spread out in any wooded area of your yard, laid as mulch, set in the outdoor fire pit as kindling, or walked right out to the trash can.  Easy peasy.

My tree reduced (trunk included) to a single laundry basket and I just threw it over the back deck…aiming for the compost pile.  (Hubs will find it when he rakes…uhm, ya.)

Christmas tree compost














8… Ditch Your Trunk – Your tree is nothing but a tiny, skinny, branchless stick of nothingness (try not to get too sad…or jealous).  Detach it from the Christmas stand and joust with it.  Or just toss it in your woods, throw it on the burn pile, or get real creative and make something cool with it.  If you can’t hack the trunk to pieces, just stick it all 6′ of it in a trash can and cross your fingers that it will get compacted, with no surcharge, along with the crumpled wrapping paper and stinky eggnog cartons.  It probably will.


Bonus: If your very own personal Brawny Paper Towel Man cut you a cedar tree out of the nearby forest…the trunk will be thin enough that you can use bigger clippers to reduce it to nothing but kindling (but don’t burn it in your fireplace!)

get rid of Christmas tree



























9…Vacuum Your Floor – When I say “vacuum” I mean only that very tiny eight square foot area of carpet that may or may not be covered with pine needles (with this method you don’t have to worry about the entire room, the line where you dragged/carried the tree through the house, and every square inch of the house that got tracked before you found the vacuum cleaner).

Oh, and depending on whether you climbed under the tree to unplug the lights or fetch runaway ornaments…you may need to vacuum yourself. (I’m not sure how I know that.)

And you don’t need a picture of this, do you?


10…Thank Yourself – Whether you needed a head-to-toe vacuum or just a little brush off, you’re so smart for Googling this before you took down your tree.


Share your thoughts in the comments…and have yourself a merry little rest of the day.