It's one of the most wonderful -- and messy -- times of the year.

It's one of the most wonderful -- and messy -- times of the year.

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio is asking local recyclers to crush or flatten cardboard gift boxes before tossing them into one of the organization's 225 drop off centers. SWACO also is requesting that the recycling community act preemptively by finding ways to trim holiday waste. Officials with the waste authority are concerned about overloaded receptacles, as recycling efforts are up 18 percent from last year, said John Remy, director of communications.

While SWACO empties containers more frequently, "We know there are some that are going to overflow and some people are going to be concerned," Remy said.

"We've been running a record rate all year," he said.

Remy suggests looking for products with reduced packaging and considering a product's durability before buying it.

Other than boxes, a number of other items associated with the holiday season can be recycled, including non-foil greeting cards, catalogs, advertising slicks and wrapping paper, removed of bows, ribbons and cellophane.

Styrofoam materials are not accepted at the drop-off centers, Remy said, but Phoenix Recycling, 2040 S. Hamilton Road, will collect all Styrofoam packaging products, except for food containers.