When the holiday season winds down in January, most families find themselves wondering what to do with an old Christmas tree.
Sure you can just throw it away, but for many that feels wasteful.
Lucky for families everywhere, here are eight festive and creative ideas for what to do with an old Christmas Tree to keep the holiday magic alive as long as possible.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.
How Long Do You Keep Your Christmas Tree Up After Christmas?
The rule of thumb is that you can keep a cut, live tree in your house for 4-6 weeks. After that, it’s considered a significant fire hazard.
Be sure to water it every day to keep it from drying out prematurely. And keep a close eye on the needles. If they seem excessively dry and brittle, it’s time to get rid of the tree.
How Do You Repurpose an Old Christmas Tree?
Here are eight unique and festive ideas to answer that question of what to do with an old Christmas tree.
1 | Start a Christmas Tree Ornament Tradition
Get some of those clear, fillable ornaments and add a few snips of one of the branches. For inspiration, check out the product image photos. Accessorize it with a few pieces of tinsel and snowflake glitter and it will be a work of art!
Use a sharpie to add the date to the outside of the ornament and you’ve started a wonderful tradition!
2 | Fresh Up Drawers
Add some fresh pine needles and branch snips to an empty drawstring tea bag.
Then simply place the bags throughout your house in clothing drawers and in kitchen cabinets to keep everything smelling fresh and piney for weeks.
3 | Make Potpourri
The Green Divas have a great recipe for DIY Pine Needle Potpourri.
Simply use some clippings from your old Christmas tree, add some festive spices, and simmer in a pot of water all day long to keep your house smelling gorgeous and amazing!
4 | Make Coasters and Trivets
If you’re handy with a circular saw, try to cut off thin slices of the trunk to make rustic coasters or trivets.
You can decorate them with sharpies then apply a thin coat of polyurethane to seal.
5 | Make a Tabletop Tree Centerpiece
You can turn your large tree into a tiny one for a gorgeous winter centerpiece.
Use a bow saw to cut 12-16” off the very top of the tree. Then place the mini tree you’ve created into a tabletop tree stand. Add some aerosol decorative snow for a wintry touch.
6 | Use Branches to Line Paths
Cut all the branches off the old Christmas tree and break them down into mostly linear lines.
Use the pine branches to line your outdoor paths and walkways.
7 | Use the Pine Needles as Mulch
Collect as many pine needles as possible to use as mulch for a flower or garden bed.
Since they decompose slowly, pine needles do a great job at holding moisture in the soil. Additionally, since they dry out so quickly they don’t run the risk of molding.
8 | Make a Bird Feeder
Garden Answer has an awesome video of how to turn an old Christmas tree into a giant bird feeder – complete with lots of edible ornaments and garland to tickle birdy taste buds!
Of course you can make your own homemade ornaments, but Amazon also has these pre-made birdseed hearts, adorable owls, and bell ornaments available for purchase to make your life easier.
Such a cute and fun idea! Guaranteed that kids will have a blast watching all the birds visit the tree.
How to Dispose of a Tree?
Even if you try to reuse, recycle, and repurpose as much of the old Christmas tree as possible, chances are you’ll still have some to throw away.
While the exact method of Christmas tree disposal varies by location, many towns offer specific days for tree pick up. On the scheduled day, drag your tree (or what’s left if it) to the designated location, often to the curb.
Another option is to bring it to your local recycling center or other location for lawn waste collection. Make sure you call first to ensure they are taking drop offs.
One year I even read about a neighborhood that borrowed a chipper to create mulch for walking paths in their common area.
Be aware that in many locations, burning your Christmas tree is highly discouraged.