How To Clean Up Christmas Responsibly (3 Tips)

Clean up Christmas
(image: Brandie)

From shattered ornaments to dried-up trees, Christmas is messy business. Here’s how to clean up the aftermath of Christmas responsibly.


Christmas has come and gone, and we all know what that means. With only a few days left to make good on those resolutions from 50 weeks ago, some spoilsport will try to pry us away from one of our vices, be it hot chocolate, red wine, bacon-wrapped poultry, or pie. Clearly, that’s no fun at all.

But before we catapult into 2016 in full-Jane Fonda force, we must tidy up the clutter we’ve created. So back away from the chocolates. Roll up your sleeves. Now grab a Ziploc bag, a broom, and a hammer. (It’ll all make sense in a minute…)

Here are three ideas to help you responsibly discard your festive accouterments.

Clean up Christmas!

1. Recycle broken lights

Christmas lights can be finicky. One broken light and the whole string is as useless as a printed phone book. But before you toss those lights in the trash and quit Christmas forever, check into recycling programs in your area.

If you send your old Christmas lights to HolidayLEDs, they’ll recycle them for you. They’ll even send you a coupon for 15 percent off the energy-efficient, LED Christmas lights they sell. (Nods to Care2 for the tip.)

Also, be sure to check in with Bob at your friendly local hardware store. Apparently, many Ace Hardware and True Value Hardware stores participate in Christmas light recycling programs.

2. Repurpose spent trees

Take a timeout before you toss that tree in the trash. Does it really belong there? If your reusable Christmas tree has seen better days, donate it to charity or hack off the boughs and turn them into a wreath or decoration for next year.

If you bought a Christmas tree of the cut variety, here are a few uses for your dearly departed sapling (hat tips to This Old House for the great ideas):

  • Mulch It: Because they dry rapidly and decompose gradually, pine needles make a great mulch for ground-covering crops (like strawberries) to rest on.
  • Chip It: To make a nutrient-rich, weed-fighting mulch to spread under your shrubs come springtime, rent a wood chipper and feed your tree through it carefully. Maybe your neighbors will split the cost. (Just be sure to follow all safety procedures carefully.)
  • Make Coasters/Trivets: Start by cutting thin slabs off the trunk of your tree, then sand everything down and apply a coat of polyurethane for protection.
  • Insulate Perennials: To protect your perennial beds from snow and frost heaving, cut off the boughs of your tree and lay them on top.
  • Edge Borders: To give flowerbeds and walkways a pretty edge, cut the tree trunk into two-inch discs and arrange them into the soil edge.

3. Salvage broken ornaments

Because our curious kitties can’t keep their paws to themselves, we bought reusable plastic ornaments that are Zombie-apocalypse-level indestructible. But some folks prefer glass ornaments, which are sadly prone to breaking and cracking. Instead of sweeping up the broken glass and moving on with life, turn your shattered ornaments into something pretty for next year.

Grab your hammers, folks. With this handy DIY tutorial from Grathio Labs, you’ll transform that broken glass into a fancy new ornament. (Nods to Life Hacker for the repost.) All you need is some glass shards, Mod Podge (a super-sticky craft glue), and a few clear glass ornament bulbs.

Here’s how:

  1. Put on goggles and set up a safe, clean, kid-free workspace.
  2. Grab a hammer and get ready to smash things.
  3. Place your broken ornaments into a double-bagged Ziploc freezer bag. Place the bagged ornaments down on a towel, and go to town with the hammer, carefully crushing everything into fine pieces.
  4. Add some watered-down Mod Podge to the inside of a clear glass ornament, coating everything evenly.
  5. Place a funnel (you can make one using a piece of paper) around the opening of the clear glass ornament, and pour in the sparkly mixture. Now put the top back on your ornament and give it a good shake.
  6. Let everything dry. If you want a little extra sparkle, repeat this process again. You’ll know everything’s dry when the white parts turn clear. (That could take a few days. So patience, grasshopper!

Over to you

How do you responsibly sweep up and clean up Christmas in your household? Share your ideas below!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


The BuildDirect Product Expert Team is here to support any questions you may have regarding your home improvement project.