Barbara 'Babs' Costello's reveals two genius hacks for taking down your Christmas tree cleanly and quickly

Taking down decorations needn't be a chore – Babs has the secrets to making it a seamless process, and it will make next year easier, too

Barbara Costello
(Image credit: Courtesy of Barbara Costello)

Don't you just hate the mess of dismantling a Christmas tree? The tangle of string lights and needles traipsed through the house are the worst. However, Barbara 'Babs' Costello – TikTok's most-loved grandma – has just exclusively told us how she takes down her tree without fuss or mess, and they're so simple, we don't know why we'd never heard of them before.

Babs, who has recently partnered with Adobe Express to create stationery designs that make the holidays easier, says that taking Christmas decorations down her way will also make them easier to put back up again next year. 

'For full disclosure, I don’t take everything down right away – we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas,' she says in an exclusive interview with H&G. 'I don’t take decorations down until after January 2nd. However, if you’ve got a real tree, it dries out, gets older, and starts to look messy.' So, this is how she recommends taking it, and the string lights wound round it, down without the stress. 

Barbara Costello

(Image credit: Courtesy of Barbara Costello )

1. Encase your tree in a plastic bag

If you have a real Christmas tree, removing the decorations then carrying the tree through the house usually results in a trail of sharp needles. However, Babs says that you can limit this destruction with nothing more than a very large plastic bag. 

Babs' top tip is one to note for next year, though it can still work this year: 

'Before you put your tree in the stand, get a plastic bag, fold it in half, cut a little corner out, and then open it up. The trunk of the tree will go in that little snip that you made in the bag,' she says. 

'When you’re ready to take your Christmas tree down, you pull the bag up over the tree and get it out of the house without a total mess of falling needles and broken branches. That’s especially helpful if you have a large tree because it gets messy as the season continues.'

Then you can simply dispose of your Christmas tree in whichever way you see fit. This year, though, pull the bag over from the top and tie at the base. Amazon sells Christmas tree disposal bags for trees of all sizes.

Barbara Costello

(Image credit: Courtesy of Barbara Costello )

2. Wrap string lights around a wrapping paper tube

Christmas lights are notoriously tricky to store – and can often be in a tangle when next Christmas comes around. 

'One of the things that probably drives you crazy is taking down the lights and opening the box the next year to find they’re a tangled mess,' Babs says. To prevent this, she recommends wrapping the lights around a hanger, a piece of cardboard, or a tube from your wrapping paper.

'This will keep them from tangling,' she says. 'Everybody has hangers, so put them to good use. Wrap the lights around the hanger and then store the hanger.'

Another option? Amazon sells string light storage reels which come empty, ready to take your lights, neatly.

Barbara Costello

(Image credit: Courtesy of Barbara Costello )

You can find out more about Babs' partnership via Adobe Express and see Babs' templates here. You can also shop for her book below. 

Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions

Celebrate with Babs: Holiday Recipes & Family Traditions – $20.40 on Amazon 

In her book, Babs shares recipes and hosting tips that will change how you host every event in the calendar. 

Megan Slack
News Editor

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.