How to take down Christmas decorations – without the mess

Decorating for Christmas is a fun start to the festive season, but few of us look forward to taking down the tree after the big day.

Whether you’re wondering how to dispose of a real Christmas tree without making a mess, or looking for the best way to pack up your baubles and other decorations, check out our quick guide to post-Christmas cleaning.

When should I take down my Christmas tree?

Tradition says your tree should come down after Twelfth Night, which celebrates the Three Wise Men arriving in Bethlehem. The Church of England counts 12 days from Christmas Day, meaning it always falls on 5th January, while the Catholic Church and other denominations count from Boxing Day, making it 6th January.

What should I do with my tree after Christmas?

Real felled trees can be recycled with garden waste, while many local councils now offer a Christmas tree collection or drop-off service. Some charities even offer to take your tree away in return for a small donation. Wonder what happens to the trees? They are often chipped and used as compost, so they don’t go to waste!

If you’ve invested in an artificial tree, carefully remove all the baubles, tinsel and lights before folding up the branches and storing back in the box ready to bring joy again next year. If you have an unwanted Christmas tree to get rid of, you may be able to donate to a local charity shop – check with your local store.

How do I take down a real Christmas tree without dropping needles everywhere?

Even the best-kept tree is likely to be shedding after a few weeks indoors – but there are plenty of hacks to capture debris en route to the door.

while you can buy ‘tree bags’ to do this job, a quick solution is to open up an old duvet cover and slide it over the tree from the top – now you can easily carry it through your home, with all debris captured within the cover. It’s a good idea to lay down a sheet or tarp before you start removing the decorations to catch any droppage and make the Christmas clean easier.

You might also like to consider choosing a live tree with the roots still attached, which can be taken outside and planted or kept in a pot ready for next year.

How can I store Christmas tree baubles without breaking them?

Glass baubles and ornaments are fragile but can last year after year if stored correctly. Wrap them individually in tissue paper or bubble wrap then carefully store in an airtight box to protect them from humidity or damp, with plenty of padding. Clearly label boxes so it’s easy to find what you want next Christmas.

Extra tip: Wrap lights around a rectangle of cardboard with a notch in one corner to tuck in the end, for easy unwrapping next year.

Is it bad luck to take down Christmas decorations early?

Some people believe if Christmas decorations aren’t taken down on the Twelfth night, it’s unlucky and that they should stay up all year.

Did you know? People used to believe that tree spirits lived in the greenery which was used to decorate homes (such as holly and ivy) and these needed needed to be released back into the wild after Christmas to continue looking after fields and crops. Now that glass baubles, tinsel and faux trees are the order of the day, we probably don’t need to be too concerned.