The carols have been sung, the gifts have been exchanged, the cookies are gone and now it's time to put Christmas away.

Before you decide to trash the used fresh evergreens, think again. There are more good uses for them.

Once the untrimmed Christmas tree is outside, consider making a bird feeding station out of it. Tether it to a small tree, preferably near some shrubs, which will serve as shelter for the birds between feedings.

Reuse the net bags that onions come in, or the net bags from avocados or other fruit, to hang suet from the branches. You can remove the natural pine cones from wreaths, roll them in peanut butter then bird seed and attach them to the Christmas tree branches. If you don't have pinecones, smear the branches with peanut butter and squeeze seed into it.

Christmas wreaths serve as good protection from winter winds when you place them around rose bush roots or shrubs. Place sections of straw around the branches; secure them by tying them with string. Garland can be wrapped around shrubs and anchored with bent sections of wire coat hanger sections.

In the spring, remove the wreath forms, any wire from the garland and all string and netting from the Christmas tree. If you have a chipper or access to one, chip the tree, wreath branches and garland for mulch or compost additions.

If none of the above is possible, many towns and developments collect Christmas trees to create habitats for fish in lakes. Townships also will collect and chip evergreens after their holiday use.

Now, aren't you glad that you didn't use artificial decorations?