If you’re a Christmas tree purist like me, you put serious thought into choosing the right evergreen for your holiday festivities.
Here are 10 tips on choosing the perfect tree for the season.
1. Make some measurements
The biggest is not necessarily the best – especially if you’ve got eight-foot ceilings and a nine-foot (but it’s perfect!) tree.
Once you decide where a tree is going to go in your home, measure the height and the width of that space and make a note of it on your phone. Don’t forget the height of whatever you put on top of the tree. That way, when you’ve got the perfect tree, you know if it will fit.
Pro tip: Also measure your tree stand to determine the maximum diameter of the tree trunk you can use in it.
2. Gear up
When you make the trip to get your tree, there are some essentials you should bring. Gloves are a good idea to protect your hands from sharp branches and pine pitch. A tape measure will help make sure the tree will fit. Find an old blanket to protect your car from pine needles and sap. Take twine or rope to tie it securely to the car (unless you know the tree lot will provide this). Any tree lot should provide a fresh cut on the end, but find a saw just in case.
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3. Finding freshness
How can you tell if a tree is fresh? The needles should look shiny, green, and fresh—not dry or brown. They should not fall off when you pull on a branch.
4. Decorating tips
Keep in mind that a tree looks better when the ornaments hang straight. Many trees today are groomed to be lush and full, so be aware that ornaments may hang at an angle on these sheered trees. For ornaments to hang straight, you’ll want a tree with some space between the branches.
To test a tree, take an unbreakable ornament with you and hang it on several branches to see if there is room for it to hang straight.
5. Get that freshness
When you make the purchase, the tree lot should give you a fresh cut. Make sure to ask if you don’t see someone with a saw. Cutting off the bottom of the trunk helps the tree begin to soak up water immediately when you put it in the tree stand.
If they don’t give you a fresh cut, you should cut off at least ½” from the bottom of the trunk once you get it home.
6. Carrying the tree
If you can, put the tree inside your car or trunk for the drive home. This will be difficult unless you have a large van or truck.
Try to wrap it in a tarp or old blanket – that’ll help prevent getting needles all over your upholstery. (The pine smell is nice, though.)
If you drive with the tree on the roof of your car, make sure you tie it securely to the car.
7. Keeping it level
Once you get your tree home and in the stand, the first key to making it picture-perfect is making sure it stands up straight. If your carpeting is thick or uneven, you may need to put down a piece of plywood so the tree stand sits on a flat, level base.
Place a plastic or other waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will stand so you don’t ruin the carpet or get watermarks on hardwood flooring.
8. Keeping it straight
If you have children or pets running around and are concerned about them knocking the tree over, be sure to secure it to a wall or a stable piece of furniture.
Using fishing line is a good option – it is fine enough that it won’t be visible in many pictures, and strong enough to keep the tree in place. Be sure that the tie lines are out of reach and won’t pose any danger to children or animals.
9. Keep the water coming
To keep the needles green, shiny and on the tree, make sure you check the water level daily. For the first few days, you may need to refill the water two or three times a day. After about a week the water intake will slow down and daily refills should be fine.
10. Recycling your tree
When the big day is past, you need to figure out what to do with your tree.
Call your waste management company or city hall to find out how to recycle your tree for mulch.
Don’t burn your tree – this could create a serious fire danger.
Dispose of your tree according to local regulations via trash collection, chipping for mulch, or recycling. Some towns and cities will have a special Christmas tree pick up day.