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You bought a Christmas tree. You brought it home. You loved your Christmas tree. Even when your dog (repeatedly) tried to pee on it. And then the holidays passed and it started raining needles all over your house, and you realized you’ve never hated an inanimate object with so much fiery passion. Your OCD had you wanting to haul it out to the curb as quickly as possible and set your Roomba to “post-holiday rave”.
I hear ya. Getting the dang tree out of your life is the incredibly liberating end to the annual holiday cycle and it’s incredibly liberating. But wait! Remember that 2019 is the year of opportunity and ideas, not waste and that environmental guilt I like to refer to as the “uuuuugh” factor.
When it comes to seeing opportunity instead of garbage, few people are better at that than my long-distance blog friend Elana at Salvage & Stitch. It had never occurred to me that one could upcycle a Christmas tree until she posted about it last year. I literally sat straight up in bed and woke up my boyfriend to show him her Instagram feed, “BABE! WHAT WIZARDRY IS THIS!”
As I mentioned before, the real versus artificial Christmas tree environmental impact debate 100% hinges on the assumption that you are treating your Christmas tree as a single use disposable item.
While I have a really intense and fun DIY on how to upcycle your Christmas tree coming up shortly, let’s start you out easy. Here are 5 ways to easily upcycle the needles from your Christmas tree that will allow you to get just a little more out of your ole holiday decoration.
5 Easy, Realistic Ways to Upcycle Your Christmas Tree Needles
Reese’s note: I’ve seen a lot of people suggesting edible or topical uses for pine needles, which are great. HOWEVER, I cannot stress enough that your Christmas tree did not grow in a forest somewhere, it came off a farm where it was likely sprayed with pesticides without the consideration that someone might try to use this tree later in an ingestible or topical way. I cannot stress enough that you should always be really careful about the ways you expose yourself to non-organic plants not typically grown for consumption. Please put your health first before any DIY products.
Additionally, as mentioned in my DIY Christmas Tree Vinegar Cleaner, you should wash your needles before you use them for some of these DIYs. They are inevitably covered in dirt and dust.
Christmas Tree Fire Starter
Your Christmas tree is nothing if not fragrant and incredibly flammable. Have you ever burned a Christmas tree before? It’s basically a giant fireball waiting to happen, which makes it a great material for a DIY firestarter for those of us who weren’t Boy Scouts. Elana did a great DIY on evergreen fire starters last year and even sent me one!
Christmas Tree Mulch
Depending on when you got your tree, you may have noticed that the needles are already starting to turn brown. Even after your Christmas tree needles have lost their color or fragrance, they’re a quick additive to any existing pine needle mulch you may have that’s looking a bit sparse. They also work great as a mulch on their own in small flower beds. Simply pull off your needles (or sweep up your floor), toss, and go. Just remember not to go wild and mulch most of your yard, native bees are often ground dwelling and mulch can interfere with their habitat. (You don’t need to wash your needles for this one.)
Christmas Tree Linen Spray
Remember that Ridiculously Easy Eucalyptus Linen Spray I became obsessed with? Evergreen linen spray is just as easy! It’s basically a simple infusion and you can totally set it and forget it. You’ll get more fragrance from your infusion if you chop your needles with scissors before you add your alcohol, but you don’t have to. Once you’re ready to use your linen spray, simply strain and spray! You’ll find the full DIY here.
Pine Needle Sachets
Let’s all agree that the best part of your Christmas tree is the smell, right? It’s addictive. Let your Christmas tree live on as evergreen sachets for your drawers and closets with this quick and easy tutorial from Salvage & Stitch.
Evergreen Vinegar Cleaner
This is how I’ve used most of my pine needles, honestly. It’s an awesome way to work through a large percentage of your Christmas tree with minimal effort and the scent takes me back to a childhood of Pine Sol scented floors… but without the chemicals. Plus, you don’t have to break the bank buying and hoarding orange peels to make your next round of eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaner. Why not use the beautiful, fragrant botanical in your living room? Never made vinegar-based cleaning solutions before? You’ll find my DIY here, but make sure you do your research before applying to fragile household surfaces.
So there you have it! 5 super easy and realistic ways to get the jump on upcycling your Christmas tree. Craving something a little more crafty? Oh, do I have something awesome for you. Stay tuned!! It’s going to be a good one!