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Post Christmas Etiquette Guide By

While we all want to keep the holiday spirit in our hearts year ‘round, some of the seasonal accoutrements may have worn out their welcome after the last cup of eggnog has been quaffed. And even if you may still be enthralled by the sparkling splendor of your still pert n' pretty plastic Christmas tree, others may be less excited to see it as they walk past your front window.

Holiday decor after the holidays begs many questions: When is it time to take down those Christmas lights? What are some eco-friendly ways to dispose of your Christmas tree disposal? Read on to find out the answers to these questions along with a few more helpful post-holiday hints!

Recycling Gift Wrapping Paper, Gift Tags, and Ribbon

It took 10 minutes to lovingly wrap a gift that was ripped open in nanoseconds. Yet, the holiday season just wouldn't be the same without all that pretty paper, pretty ribbons, and beautiful presentation. After it's served its purpose, wrapping paper, Christmas cards, decorative gift tags and curling ribbons can be recycled -- or even re-used. Some wrapping paper with a metallic, foil, or glitter finish cannot be recycled. If you intend to recycle what you can of your gift wrap, be sure to remove all pieces of tape that may still be stuck to the paper.

Some towns do have programs that collect used gift wrap, so check with your local recycling center to see if they recycle gift wrap.

Previously, it used to be frowned upon to re-use gift wrap. However, since more people are inclined to seek out sustainable, eco-friendly practices, it's not considered nearly as gauche. Larger pieces of used wrapping paper can be repurposed to wrap smaller gifts. However, if used gift wrap is somewhat battered and crumpled, recycling may be the best route. That said, you can certainly re-use decorative bows, ribbons, and curling ribbon to dress up new gifts without wasting some otherwise beautiful accents.

When Is It Time To Say Goodbye To Outdoor Decorations?

In December, there's nothing more beautiful than a home adorned with twinkling lights. Holiday animatronics can also lend a whimsical touch to your front lawn in the lead-up to the winter holidays. However, these decorations are decidedly less festive in February than they are in December.

A good rule of thumb is to take down your outdoor decorations the weekend following your holiday season. Many people like to leave their decorations up the week after New Year's or shortly after Three Kings Day (January 6th) or Russian / Orthodox Christmas (January 7th).

Realistically, inclement winter weather can play a role in delaying the removal of your outdoor decorations. Other factors -- such as a full-time job or a household of bustling children home from school for the holiday -- can also make it difficult to set aside time during a weekday immediately after New Year's to remove decorations. However, the weekend after the holiday season has officially passed is the perfect time to take down your lights and pack away the dancing penguins in the garage until next season. Reward yourself with a nice cup of hot cocoa after you've finished your de-decorating!

Proper Christmas Tree Disposal

It's the first week of January and what was once a fabulous fir or a splendid spruce is now a sad mass of drooping boughs and shedding needles. Many people often leave their trees curbside for trash collectors to pick up and dispose. However, real trees can be recycled or mulched, giving them new life after the holidays. A quick call to your town or city's department of public works may yield information on when they will be in your area to pick up trees for recycling.

If you would like to recycle your tree and your town does not offer a city-sponsored program, you can take your tree to a recycling center. Special bags can be purchased to make transporting your tree a tidy affair. These bags can be recycled and can also ensure that your car isn't filled with pine needles after taking it to the recycling center.

When disposing of your real Christmas tree, please be considerate of others and sweep up your needles. Transporting your tree from your home to the curb or car can leave a trail of discarded pine needles behind you. These needles can be a bit of a pain for neighbors to sweep from their walkway, or, if you live in an apartment building or condo, can be somewhat unsightly. Don't forget to keep the holiday spirit in mind after the season has passed and keep your neighborhood or living area beautiful!

Another option that has become popular in recent years is to purchase Christmas trees with a root ball still attached. These “ball-and-burlap” trees can be planted in your backyard or elsewhere once the holiday season has passed. If you have enough space to do so, this can be a beautiful way to give back to the environment.

Let's not forget our friends who prefer fantastic fake trees, too! Many newer plastic Christmas trees look just as lifelike as the real thing. Better yet, they can be easily dismantled with little fuss and stored until next year. These sturdy trees can last for many years, but there are some extra steps you can take to preserve your plastic tree. Be sure to save the box your tree originally came in. Additionally, to keep all of the pieces together and protect your tree from dust, debris, and critters that may find their way into your attic or basement, you can purchase a tree bag to place your tree in before packing it back into its original box.

With these post-holiday etiquette tips in mind, there are a number of ways that you can give back to your community, the earth, and even yourself by keeping everything in good order -- good cheer!

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