Taking down the holiday decorations is always a little bittersweet. I love the excess of the season's decor and when it is all gone, my home always tends to feel emptier than it was before they went up. But with the freshness of a clean sweep comes new possibilities and lots of opportunities to recycle the decorations into something useful. Last year I put my Christmas tree to post holiday use as a mock up in my garden. I was considering a few places for some new plantings and a tree. With all the snow it was quite easy for me to stick the christmas tree in the ground and try it out visually for a few days. After living with each placement and gathering a consensus of opinions about a few different spots, we finally knew we had a good design decision come spring. There are lots of other great ideas around the web for ways to put your your holiday greens to good use beyond the season. Here is a quick round up: • This Old House magazine lists 10 clever uses that include everything from mulch, to trivet making, and even creating an underwater shelter for fish. • Concord Magazine has a great tutorial for making Pine Needle Tea. (I can't say that I have tried it, but I am certainly curious!) • I am also intrigued by this description of a how to make a cat tree from the leftover real tree (as described for less than $4!). • But I think that given the space for storage I like the idea of stripping the needles, spray painting it white and using it in the garden for next year's decoration. Do you have any ideas for how to creatively put your tree to use after you take it out of the living room? If you haven't time or inclination to make something new from the old tree, do make sure you recycle it. This list of nationwide resources can help you find a local service or place to drop off your tree so that it can be recycled. Image: Laurynas Mereckas on Flickr under creative commons.