The Holiday season often leaves us feeling as though we have been sucked into a tornado, most of the month of December is spent feeling as though we are being catapulted through life at a dizzying pace as we attempt to bake, shop, and wrap our ways into the spirit of the season. As the year inches towards a close and life returns to its normal speed, we are left looking around at the debris of the most wonderful time of the year. No amount of pretty bows and wrapping are going to make your post-holiday cleanup any more joyful- in fact they probably comprise of 50 percent of your mess- but with a little effort you can take comfort in the knowledge that your holiday litter is being taken care of in the most eco-friendly way possible. And if that fails to get you through those piles of refuse, a little leftover eggnog might do the trick.

Wrapping: All those thoughtful presents that took an eternity to wrap and mere seconds to tear open can leave your floor looking as though a Nor’easter of decorative paper has unleashed its fury on your living room come Christmas morning. Resist the urge to shove this explosion of wrapping in a Hefty bag and handle this clean-up in a manner that is considerate of both the environment and your wallet.

1. Save It:  First things first; sort through the vestiges of your Christmas morning. Fold and store paper and ribbons that are barely damaged to reuse next year. Your future self will thank you for saving them a trip to a crowded store next December. Seriously, future you may even take future you to lunch for being so thoughtful.For paper that is crinkled, ripped and unsightly, save it for packing packages throughout the year.  Even salvageable small scraps of paper can be stored, cut to size and used next year as tags for gifts! Seriously, get ready for an appreciative trip to TGI Thursdays next December. Save room for a deep fried onion app!

2. Recycle: Being the eco-friendly Santa that you are, you likely chose wrapping that was recyclable. If not, do not feel bad, just see the above tips and try to get recyclable paper or forgo normal wrapping altogether next year. My own parents never wrapped presents from Santa; the effect of gazing upon a sea of presents was caused a delightful sensory overload come Christmas morning. Trust me, my siblings and I did not ever complain about the lack of frilly bows.

 Save It, REMIX: Holiday Card Edition: This Christmas season my boyfriend’s thoughtful mother gave me beautifully wrapped presents that featured a creative twist on labeling. Instead of pre-bought labels, she had saved and reused the covers of adorable holiday cards she had received the previous Christmas.  The effect was not only eco-friendly but made presents appear both unique and festive.

 Lights:  The backbone of any festive holiday décor is arguably the twinkle provided by countless strands of lights. Whether these lights have survived or have fallen victim to the madness of this holiday season, there are eco-friendly options for their off duty season, even if that consists of eternity.

 1.Recycle: I may sound like a broken record…record…record. But, when disposing of lights that have gone to a better place, you should always try to recycle. When in doubt…try to recycle it. It may not rhyme but it is sound advice. Seek local places that recycle holiday lights, or you can send lights to this program.  Remember. Try to replace lights with LED strands. They can use up to 90 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts.

 2. Store Them: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…or throw it away needlessly.  Store light strands that are in decent shape in a safe place for use next year. You could also donate them to a local college student for their dorm room decor. Nothing says dorm ambience quite like a strand of Christmas lights and a Bob Marley poster. (Black lights optional).

Trees:   The centerpiece for most eruptions of holiday wrapping wreckage, Christmas trees are one of the most often debated features of this holiday season among the eco-friendly set.  Real, fake or none at all- by now your decision has been made, and we are not here to judge, but to offer you some handy advice on disposing of your real tree.

 1. Re-use: If you are handy with an axe and have a penchant for legal fire building (think wood burning stove- not, your ex’s car) you can save your wood. Chop into larger logs or split into kindling to get future fires roaring, cuz baby, it is cold outside, and depending on where you live, it may be until roughly May. If you are someone who possesses a wood chipper, and who doesn’t these days ( I use mine to grind coffee and make confetti for Flag Day) you can make mulch from your former ornament holder.

 2. Recycle:  “Again with the recycling, goodness gracious. Come up with something new!” No, it is an oldy and a goody for a reason. Locate places to recycle your tree with this handy search from Earth911.com.

Hopefully with this advice, a little patience and a dash of a sugar high from leftover baked goods, this holiday season cleanup will be a breeze. If not, take comfort in the fact that there are 360 days until Christmas 2010.

Now, where did I put that rum for the Eggnog?

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