My most dreaded day of the year is almost here, New Year's Day.

Yes, turning the page on to a new year has me feeling slightly hopeful, but mostly I'm filled with dread. The last two years have SUCKED, and sadly all signs are pointing to 2022 being pretty crappy as well, but let's not focus on that right now.

So, what is the real reason I dread New Year's Day? In my younger years, it was because I would dread the hangover that would follow an amazing night of ringing in a new year, but now that I am older, that's not how I choose to spend New Year's Eve. I dread New Year's Day because it officially means the holiday season is over and it's time to take down all my Christmas lights and decorations. I HATE taking down all my Christmas lights and decorations, mostly because I HATE the feeling of blah that their removal leaves behind. Since I can't avoid the chore, it's time to get it done, and it's also time to get rid of all the Christmas stuff that has seen better days. Namely, old, broken Christmas lights and live trees.

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Recycle Your Old Strands of Christmas Lights

Let's start with the lights. I know we all have a bag of half-working, straight-up broken strands of Christmas lights sitting around our house somewhere that we are extremely tempted to throw in the trash or recycle bin. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT throw those lights in the trash, it's not good for our environment. Instead, bring those bags of old Christmas lights to Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful at 4665 Hydraulic Road in Rockford or at 8409 North 2nd Street. in Machesney Park so that they may dispose of them properly.

Getty Images
Getty Images
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Recycle or Repurpose Your Real Christmas Tree

When it comes to getting rid of the real Christmas tree that you have loved staring at for the last month, don't just throw it on the curb, give it a new purpose. Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful has tree recycling centers set up all over the Stateline area, (click here for a full list of locations), but that's not the only option available to you. Many farms, zoos, and wildlife centers in the area will gladly take your old tree off your hands and then put it to good use as enrichment for their animals. There are also several options for repurposing that tree in your own home. Here are 5 clever options to consider from gardenbetty.com;

  1. Set it up in your yard and hang bird feeders on it for a bird sanctuary.
  2. Cut it up into pieces and compost it.
  3. Chip it yourself and use it as mulch for your flower beds and garden paths.
  4. Use it as firewood for your firepit. (Preferable after the needles have fallen off)
  5. Cut the tree trunk into slices to use for future craft projects. (They make great ornaments!)

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