Drinking Your Christmas Tree: How to Repurpose Your Tree After Christmas

Save Your Tree From the Bin !

Growing up, we've always had a fake Christmas tree in the house. Sure it didn't smell like the real thing, but it always brought with it the warm feelings of Christmas. The excitement of decorating it with all of the little crafty ornaments I made from school, mixed with mini brass horns, drums, and christmasy characters all dangling on string. 

I never subscribed to the tradition of going to buy a chopped down tree and decorating it for Christmas, only to have it thrown on the side of the curb destined for the dump. It made me sad that a tree with potential to live decades is chopped down in its prime for a short period of our enjoyment, then wastefully thrown away. To quote Marla Singer from Fight Club analogizing a vintage dress :

"It's a bridesmaid's dress. Someone loved it intensely for one day, and then tossed it. Like a Christmas tree. So special. Then, bam, it's on the side of the road. Tinsel still clinging to it."

This year my partner and I wanted to get a real tree. We looked at options of living trees, the ones that you can water and then replant at the end of the holidays, but they were out of our budget.  We decided on a small real tree and  instead of throwing it away we would use it for all that it can offer. 

How to Harvest Your Christmas Tree 

  1. To begin your tree must be dried aka dead.
  2. Using a large sharp pair of scissors or garden shears, cut off the younger, smaller branches , then cut into smaller pieces and place into a large bowl. 
  3. After you've cut as much as you'd like to harvest, squish down with your hands to begin to release the needles from their branches. 
  4. If you have an oversized pestle and mortar like I do here, you can use the pestle to press down on the needles which will make more room and release a lovely balsam fir aroma.
  5. Grab another large bowl. Working in batches, grab a large handful of branches and rub between your hands over the new bowl, releasing the needles into the bowl. 
  6. Pick out the branches that now have no needles on them and discard, or use for kindling. 
  7. Once you've rubbed all the little branches into the new bowl, with clean hands, start to crush the needles between your hands. 
  8. Transfer into a clean mason jar. It is now ready to be used for tea, crafts, bath soaks etc. 
Sharp scissors to cut the branches

Christmas Tree Tea Recipe

Yield: 2 cups or 32 single servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Balsam Tree Needles (Immunity)
  • 1/4 cup Schisandra berries (Immunity)
  • 1/4 cup Hawthorn berries (heart health) 
  • 1/4 cup Lavender (nervous system relaxant) 
  • 1/4 cup Hibiscus (Heart Health)

Method

  1. Add all herbs and berries into a bowl and mix well with a spoon. 
  2. Transfer to a mason jar. 
  3. Add 1 tbsp to a cup of boiling water. 
  4. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Make sure to cover in order to retain the medicinal volatile oils. 
  5. Strain and enjoy! 

Medicinal Properties of Balsam Fir Tree

Balsam Fir an Evergreen tree variety and the most common tree used for Christmas in North America. Click here to identify your tree. Believe it or not, Balsam Fir is very high in many minerals and vitamins, the ones most needed for cold weather seasons. 

  1. Very High in Vitamin C. By weight, Balsam Fir has 10x as much vitamin C as an orange. Great for boosting immunity when sick.
  2. Expectorant. This is a class of herbs that improves the action of relieving phelgm and excess mucus from the respiratory system,
  3. Antiseptic. It has healing properties and works great as a topical application. 
  4. Immune Support: It has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties great for helping to kick that bacterial cold infection you've been fighting off. 
  5. Anti-Inflammatory: Helps reduce the inflammation often associated with common colds. 
  6. Decongestant: helps to relieve congestion in the sinus tract. 

Other Uses for Christmas Tree Needles

  • Add to epsom salts for a healing bath. 
  • Infuse your soap for ant-micorbial properties
  • Make an Balsam Fir infused oil to produce a cream or salve.
  • Drink tea!