6 Ways to Reuse Your Tree

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As the Christmas season comes to a close, we're searching for creative ways to reuse our holiday tree. These festive firs are surprisingly versatile once your lights and ornaments are packed away, transformed into practical garden materials or tiny accent pieces for the home. Read on to find six of our favorite ways to reuse your tree this winter. 

1. Build a Bonfire: Rich in flammable resin, evergreen trees are the ideal fuel for a midwinter bonfire. This is especially true once their needles and limbs have been dried out by indoor display. Create a bonfire using your tree, along with any greens and garlands leftover from the holidays. Be sure to build your bonfire on a clear patch of ground outdoors -- evergreen trees can cause creosote buildup if used to fuel a fireplace or woodstove. 

2. Fill Sachets: If you've chosen a fragrant tree variety, like a Balsam or Fraser fir, strip off a few handfuls of needles and use them to fill homemade sachets. Stitch your own from small squares of linen, or simply drop the needles into a cotton drawstring bag. 

3. Donate Locally: Lots of community organizations accept tree donations after the holidays. Park services collect trees to use for mulching, while zoos accept them for animal enrichment. 

4. Make Place Card Holders: For a rustic touch on the winter table, use the trunk of the tree to make wooden place card holders. Strip away all the branches, then slice 2-3" segments of the trunk for each holder. Make a shallow, thin cut on one side of the slice to hold a card. 

5. Create a Compost Pile: A layer of evergreen branches makes the perfect base for a new compost pile; the branches encourage air flow at the bottom of the pile, and will break down over time. Simply cut them to fit the size of your compost bin, then create a layer that's 4-6" deep. 

6. Submerge for a Fish Habitat: If your property features a lake or pond, sink your tree into the water (some fish and game departments also accept tree donations for this purpose). The submerged tree creates a natural habitat for fish, and attracts algae for them to eat. Be sure to double check for any stray ornaments, hooks, or tinsel before placing your tree in the water. 

Image credits: 1. Liga Eglite; 2. terrain ; 3. Philip Bump; 4. terrain; 5. eileenmak; 6. U.S. Department of Agriculture 

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