It’s the new year. But whether you’ve had some time off to get your mind and your surroundings in order, or you’re feeling as rushed as ever to kick off the new year, you may still be enjoying a few trappings of the holiday season—particularly that beautiful Christmas tree you decorated with time and care.

While it’s tempting to keep the tree up all the way through January, into February—even March?!—remember that it’s a living, breathing plant, and the cleanup may be a little more complicated the longer it remains in your house. Whether you’re keeping it up for a while, bidding it adieu as soon as you can, or donating your tree to a recycling center, here are a few tips for taking it down with minimal stress and, especially, minimal mess.

1. Detach Your Ornaments

By the time you begin the take-down process, the tree will likely be a little drier—and, therefore, pricklier—than when you decorated. Carefully, and wearing gloves, to be safe, detach your ornaments and wrap them in tissue paper or return them to their plastic casings.

2. Unwind the Lights

Begin where you finished when you were putting the lights up, and work backwards around the tree. Winding each strand and storing it in its own small bag can prevent the infamous string-lights tangle next year! Some lights also come with a spool. It’s worth keeping and using from year to year.

3. Wrap and Remove the Tree

Your main goal is to get the tree out while avoiding sap stains and excess pine needles being littered through your house in its wake! Spread a sheet or tarp around the tree before you start handling it. You may also want to line the path from tree to door to make for easier indoor cleanup once the tree is outside. If the tree came with a plastic tree bag, envelop the tree and stand (or use another sheet to do so), then bring them outside and remove the bag and the stand. If you’re having trouble enveloping the tree, you may want to clip the branches, bag them, and take them out several at a time.

4. Sweep or Tape-Up Pine Needles, Don’t Vacuum

Pine needles aren’t good for your vacuum cleaner. Shake out any sheets or tarps you used to protect the floors during your tree removal, and sweep up as many remaining needles as you can. Need a good trick for the stubborn ones? If they’re stuck in carpet or in the grooves of your wooden floor, loop a piece of extra-sticky tape, sticky-side out, around your hand and get ‘em that way. Any dirt or other material can be vacuumed once the floor is pine-free.

As you’re saying goodbye to the tree, freshening up your space, and turning over a new leaf yourself, why not prep for the new season by refreshing a little bit of everything? Remember—the code “HOLIDAY” gets you 20% off all AllerEase merchandise sitewide until January 9, 2017. Here’s to the new year and a fresh start!