When to take down a Christmas tree — according to the experts

Here's exactly when to take down a Christmas tree. No more guessing required

No more wondering when to take down a Christmas tree like these multiple faux white or green spruces
(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

With the holidays upon us, you're probably wondering when to take down a Christmas tree currently cluttering up your space. It's natural to grow weary of your larger than life tree, want to reset the house, and pack the decorations away. But there’s often confusion over the right time to do this. 

We’ve picked the festive brains of a professional Christmas decorator and interior design specialists to help you plan ahead for this big task.

If you want to know when to take your tree down and store your Christmas decorations, our expert advice will make this a breeze.  

How to know when to take down a Christmas tree

Once the Christmas period comes to a close, figuring out when to take down your Christmas tree and store your Christmas ornaments is vital.

Punteha van Terheyden, editor, says: "I'm one of the first people to get my tree up in early December, so by the time Christmas has come and gone, I'm itching to reclaim the space my spruce has been taking up. There are no hard and fast rules for when it's best to pack away, recycle, or dispose of your tree but these parameters might help you figure out when is best for you."

Punteha van Terheyden
Punteha van Terheyden

Punteha van Terheyden is editor of Real Homes and from a long line of Christmas fanatics. Decorating her Christmas tree is one of Punteha's favourite festive tasks, but she also loves planning the moment she can reclaim her living space back.

January 5th or 6th

Image of a Christmas tree by a fireplace surrounded by gifts

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

If you’re crazy about Christmas and love decorating for the holidays, then you’ll probably want to leave your Christmas tree and decorations up for as long as possible. 

Steven Perez, Interior Designer, says: "Traditionally, the Twelfth Night (January 5th
or 6th depending on local traditions) marks the end of Christmas festivities and is considered the appropriate time to take down Christmas trees and decorations. This aligns with the Christian calendar, marking the coming of the Epiphany."

One thing worth noting about the Twelfth Night is that no one can seemingly agree on which date it actually falls on. It could be either January 5th or 6th, depending on whether Christmas is counted as the first day, or not.

Steven Perez
Steven Perez

Steven Perez is an Interior Designer based in Louisiana, and is passionate about home design and decor. 

New Year’s Eve

While lots of people prefer to leave their Christmas tree and other decorations up until the start of January, if you’d prefer to start the New Year with a clean, clear space, it’s perfectly fine to take your Christmas tree down on New Year’s Eve. 

Out with the old, in with they new, as the saying goes.

If the tree starts to die

An image of a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There’s no hard and fast rule that you have to take your Christmas tree down in line with tradition. If you want to cling to the joy of Christmas a little longer, you can leave your tree up for as long as you like — or until it starts to die. 

Perez says: "Key indicators that your tree is dying include needles dropping excessively, the tree becoming dry and brittle, and noticeable browning of needles. These signs not only diminish the tree's aesthetic appeal but can also pose a fire hazard."

So, if you notice any of these things (or if your Christmas tree smells bad), it’s probably time to say goodbye to it. 

When you need the space

We've all been there; skirting around the tree for weeks, knocking ornaments off by accident, or even blocking the best natural light in your living space. If that's ringing bells for you, it's because you're missing the space your tree and your traditional Christmas decorations have been taking up.

"Consider the space it's been taking up,” van Terheyden says. “When could you do with having it back? Or perhaps you have guests arriving later in the holidays and want them to see it. 

"Whatever your plans, pop a reminder in your calendar and block off two hours or so to pack away ornaments (this Christmas ornament storage box from Amazon is perfect for easier packing away) and decor when it suits you, and get the tree out of the spot it's been taking up for weeks. This also means you'll get the maximum enjoyment out of your tree."

An image of a flocked Christmas tree in a living room

(Image credit: Pottery Barn)

When you want to

Emily Lambe, deputy editor, says: "Taking down your tree is really personal preference. If you have a real Christmas tree you may want to take it down a little quicker as it could dry out and start dropping needles. It can also become a bit of a fire hazard if it becomes too dry, especially around electronics or open flames.

"For artificial trees, take them down whenever you'd like. You may want to dust yours off while disassembling though, so it's ready for next year. I personally tend to wait till sometime in the first week of January to take mine down and really make the most of the season (and the fresh pine smell)."

Emily Lambe
Emily Lambe

Emily Lambe is the deputy editor at Real Homes. 

Dispose of your tree carefully

Don't forget to figure out what you're going to do with the tree itself. You've managed to fit a Christmas tree in a small space but how do you get rid of it?

”If you have a real tree like me," van Terheyden says, "decide how you're going to get shot of it. I look up local businesses that will collect them in exchange for a donation to charity. Their collection date is usually inflexible, so it decides the end date for me.

"Otherwise, if you have an artificial one, consider a tree bag (like this Christmas tree bag from Amazon) to safely and securely pack it all away, and find a home for it that won't annoy you till next December. If you don’t have a loft space or garage, you may need to call on a friend or relative with a bigger home to stash it, so you'll sync your activities with their availability.”

If you decide to sell your tree, take pictures of it all decorated before clearing it away, and put it up for sale after Christmas day. 

“Many people who plan ahead like I do for next Christmas and save money buying out-of-season, will be scouring second-hand items the first few days after,” explains van Terheyden. “Hopefully, your willing buyer will be able to collect it, taking that odious task off your hands!"


Is there actually a right time to take down your Christmas tree?

The simple answer is no. There is no set time to take down your Christmas tree. While some people like to follow family traditions of taking down their Christmas tree at a certain time, there’s no right or wrong date, or final day you must take your Christmas tree down by. The best time is the one that’s most convenient for you and your family. After you spent a lot of time choosing how to decorate your Christmas tree, you deserve to enjoy it for as long as you like. 

Knowing when to take down a Christmas tree can be challenging. On the one hand, you don’t want to take your tree down too soon but on the other, you might want to reset your home ahead of the new year and need a clean space to do that. 

Whilst there are certain dates and traditions that suggest it’s best to take down your tree at a particular part of the holidays, it’s really about when it is best for you. That said, if you notice that your Christmas tree is drying out, it’s important to get rid to avoid a fire risk.  

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.