Find out how to recycle a real Christmas tree, lots of environmentally friendly ideas plus why not start a family ritual tree-burning tradition each year? 

Well folks it’s Twelfth Night, the last day of Christmas and time to take down the decorations. If you’re still awaiting an epiphany over how to recycle your Christmas tree (obviously all you lovely Kids of the Wild readers will have bought real trees this year following our excellent article Christmas Tree Care!) then read on for 13 great ideas for Christmas tree recycling.

For me there is no better way to end the Christmas celebrations than with a winter ritual Christmas tree burning on our firepit, on or around Twelfth Night, January 05th.


If pyromania isn’t your thing, here are more great ways of disposing of your old tree, Kids of the Wild style: –

13 Ways of Christmas Tree Recycling

  1. Plant it if it was a rooted treesee Christmas Tree Care for what to do
  2. Burn it – by far the most fun! – and spread the wood ash on your compost heap or around a wildlife gardening
  3. Use it for fencing in a wildlife garden
  4. Council recycling – ask your local council’s refuse and recycling department if they take Christmas trees. Coastal councils may use trees for sand dune restoration or other environmentally friendly projects. Find your local council here
  5. Make coasters by sawing the trunk into thin slices and sanding smooth if necessary
  6. Chip it for composting or mulching the garden
  7. Make a Water Wheel – have’t tried this project but it looks fascinating; let me know how it works if you have a go
  8. Make a Reindeer – again not tried this one but it looks good for budding engineers
  9. Make a Bird Feeding Shelter – stand the old tree securely in the garden and attach various types of bird food to it – it provides shelter and food for a few months
  10. Edge a Flowerbed Border with pieces of trunk cut into short lengths
  11. Practice whittling on the thicker branches or the trunk if it’s a smaller size
  12. Make a Birdhouse, Candlesticks or Paperweights
  13. Make a Whisk – looks like another great project, let me know what you think

Ritual Tree Burning

Burning a tree on Twelfth Night, also known as The Epiphany (which means a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization and celebrates the time Christ was revealed to the world, the gentiles, in form of the three wise men), is perfect to signify the end of festivities; the flames, heat, warmth and a tree reduced to compostible ashes, the decorations down and the start of a new season awaiting the return of sunlight and spring.

It’s great for a family get together with friends and for teaching little ones about fire safety. We usually offer up wishes, new year’s resolutions or even negativities with the branches we throw into the flames.

It’s really important to get the wind direction right as Christmas trees burn hot, fast and with great intensity, being so dry and brittle after weeks indoors. Keep children well supervised.

Read about safe fire lighting here or learn how to make a firepit from an old washing machine drum.

Fire Pit Fail

We bought a stylish fire pit a few years ago. One of those with mosaic tiles and a flat lid that transformed it into a table when not burning. Complete with barbecue grill and weatherproof cover it looked great in the garden and was used lots. I can’t recommend it though.

Perhaps it was the size and strength of our fires……

….but on first use the cement between the tiles caught fire and loosened a chunk of the mosaic edging! The company sent us a replacement but the same thing happened.

Finding Beauty in the Broken

We kept the fire pit and used it for a few years for barbecues, chestnut roasting, parties, camping trips and of course ritual Christmas tree burning, accepting all its brokenness in line with the Japanese art of Kintsugi; recognising beauty in broken things. They repair breakages with golden paste rather than throwing them away. Bit of a metaphor for life and relationships…


I challenge you to seek out your hidden pyromaniac –  you’ve got the whole weekend to work on it!