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Choosing the Best Christmas Tree—5 Things To Look for When Picking a Tree This Holiday Season

Updated on October 1, 2018
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Owner of MommyDaddyKids and mother of two, Meagan is passionate about her family and sharing real-life advice with everyday people.

Traditional Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are the most important part of any homes festive decor. Unlike your other holiday decorations, it will serve as the centerpiece during your most cherished holiday memories. This is why choosing the perfect real Christmas tree is so important.

Everyone has their own preference, and that’s what they typically think about while choosing a tree. Some want short and full while others steer towards holiday trees that are tall and skinny. However, there are several things you should think about beyond height and width if you want the perfect tree this holiday season.

Following the advice below will ensure you get the perfect real Christmas tree this year and help you avoid earning the nickname “Charlie Brown.”

1. Avoid Early Harvested Trees

Most people don't realize this, but some sellers will harvest their trees as early as October. Afterwards, they keep them fresh in buckets of water and manure. If your family doesn't go to an orchard where they cut it down in front of you, or allow you to chop your own tree, you should ask when their trees were cut.

A good rule of thumb is to wait and cut them after two good frosts so the sap will have hardened. However, since most people don't keep track of the frost schedule in their area, ten days before Thanksgiving is a good rule of thumb.

If the vendors tell you they're unsure, or act annoyed that you asked, you might be better off going to a different place.

2. Avoid Dying or Dead Trees

The freshness of a tree is important if you want it to remain gorgeous throughout the holiday season. Before you decide, give the tree a good shake. Some needles will fall off from it, but the keyword in that sentence is some. If it leaves a pile of needles scattered around it, you should probably continue your search.

Besides turning into a Charlie Brown disaster; having a dying tree in your home could be dangerous. Never place a tree near any source of heat that might cause it to dry out quicker than normal, and keep outlets at a safe distance.

3. Avoid Measurement Mistakes

It's easy to get so caught up in appearances that you overlook the important details, like measurements. How many times have you found the perfect tree only to bring it home and realize it won't fit in your house? You're not alone; we've all been there!

Before you begin your tree picking adventure, you should know a few small details. Measure the height of your ceiling where you plan to put the tree, measure the tree stand you're going to use, and measure the tree topper. Believe it or not, the tree stand and topper can add quite a lot of unaccounted inches to a tree, and that's an extra hassle that nobody wants to deal with.

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Measuring before you choose a tree is important!
Measuring before you choose a tree is important!

4. A Little Off the Bottom Please

It's always a good idea to cut an inch or two off the bottom of your holiday tree before putting into the tree stand. You can do this yourself or ask the merchant to do it for you. Most vendors will do it for free, but only when you ask them to do it. This will help the tree absorb water which will keep it fresh longer.

5. Transporting Your Tree Correctly

How you transport a tree makes a difference and you don't want to learn that lesson the hard way this year. Some tree farms will wrap a Christmas tree in plastic netting, but many of them have stopped this practice.

If your putting the tree on the top of a car or in the back of a truck, make sure to position it so the trunk of the tree is pointed into the wind. If you don't position it correctly you won't have a tree when you get home.

If you don't want your tree to look like this, check out the right way to transport a Christmas tree!
If you don't want your tree to look like this, check out the right way to transport a Christmas tree!

Keeping it Fresh

Besides being beautiful to look at, you want to be sure the tree you choose will be safe for your family to have. If a tree appears brown or orange in color it's either dead or dying, and would be extremely unsafe in your home.

A good way to test for freshness is to bend one of the needles on the tree you're looking at. Depending on the species of tree, a freshly cut tree will typically have needles that snap when bent. However, they should not crumble between your fingers.

It's important to get your tree into water as soon as possible. The first drink you should give to your new Christmas tree is a mixture of sugar and hot water. You can swap over to plain water after this. The sugar water will help it absorb more water in the future and stay fresh longer.

Know Your Tree Types

There are numerous species that are favored as Christmas trees. Everyone has their individual preference, and each type has its own set of pros and cons. Some types have sturdier branches and would be best suited for families with a lot of ornaments. Others are more fragrant, while some have no scent at all. Brushing up on the different types will give you a better idea of what you're looking for, and help you narrow down the amount of trees you have to sort through.

Now that you have some great tips locked into your arsenal, you should have absolutely no problem picking out a wonderful Christmas tree this year. Remember to keep it simple and fun. Yes, there are some serious things you need to consider when choosing a tree, but having fun with your family is the most important thing.

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© 2017 Meagan Ireland


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