Christmas Tree Lot (Image Credit: Ralph Hockens)

Your First Time… Buying a Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Lot (Image Credit: Ralph Hockens)

Christmas Tree Lot (Image Credit: Ralph Hockens)

Christmas is almost here, but it’s not too late to buy a Christmas tree. Although the convenience of a fake tree is tempting, there’s something genuinely special about a live tree. Maybe it’s the fresh scent or the process that goes into picking it, but nothing beats a real Christmas tree. In case you’ve never shopped for a live tree before – or if you just haven’t had good luck with tree shopping in the past – The Daily Quirk is offering some simple advice on how to find, pick and maintain your dazzling new centerpiece for the holiday season.

Where To Get The Trees

You have two options when trying to find a Christmas tree. Your first is probably the easiest, because all it requires you do is take a drive down a popular road in your hometown. As soon as Thanksgiving comes around, pre-cut Christmas tree sellers begin popping up readily. If you’re unsure of where to start, look for churches or large parking lots that also sold pumpkins at Halloween. Typically, you can find decent prices for a wide variety of sizes all in one place, which is very convenient in the busy holiday season.

However, if you’re looking to make the picking process a little more memorable, try taking a trip to a Christmas tree farm. Unlike the pre-cut tree shops that pop up all over town, these trees are still firmly rooted in the ground. The idea of a tree farm is you can walk rows upon rows of Christmas trees, pick the one you love, and then chop it down with your own two hands. Even if you only do it once, there’s just something special about knowing you chopped down your Christmas tree.

How to Choose the Right Tree

Now comes the fun part. You know where to find them, so all that’s left is going out and getting the perfect tree. But how do you know which trees are best?

Look for the right sized tree. As obvious as this one sounds, it’s easy to forget to exactly how tall your ceilings are. You don’t want to go out and buy a 12-foot tree and realize you only had room to accommodate a 10-foot tree. Plan ahead, and make sure you get the height that’s best suited for your room. Oh, and don’t forget the added height of the tree topper and the stand! Along these same lines, you also need to make sure the tree isn’t too wide. Christmas trees have a bit of poof, but you don’t want the poof to take over the space. Look for a tree that has a nice round shape, but won’t make you feel like you’ll need a machete to tame it.

Symmetry is key. Keeping the previous tip in mind, it’s also important that your tree is as symmetrical as possible. You don’t want a tree that is full on one side but flat on the other. You also don’t want a tree that has empty spots or looks like it’s missing some branches in one area. It doesn’t have to be perfectly symmetrical, but if doesn’t have a good, manageable poof all the way around, it’ll look lopsided and make it difficult to keep standing.

Shake it. Seriously, you’ll need to shake the tree. Grab the middle of the tree by the trunk and give a good shake. If you see a lot of needles fall to the ground, or if it ends up looking like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, you’ll probably need to find another one. It’s normal for a few needles to fall, but you don’t want to be showered by them. The less needles that fall, the fresher the tree and the longer it’ll last in your home.

It has a nice color. This one could probably go without saying, but it’s still important to remember. You want a Christmas tree that is a vibrant green because that shows it’s fresh and healthy. The fresher the tree, the longer it’ll last and the stronger it’ll be for decorating. If the needles are starting to brown and it’s more than just one or two needles, it might be worth looking for another tree.

Christmas Tree Care

You’ve picked out the perfect tree and you’re going to bring it home, but how do you best care for your new festive centerpiece?

Cut the trunk. Most Christmas tree sellers nowadays have someone who will trim back your tree and cut the trunk. Don’t turn them down. Getting the trunk properly cut will ensure that your tree stays fresher longer and will avoid needles littering your floor soon after you bring it home.

Get the right stand. Make sure before you buy the tree that you have a reliable tree stand that you can put it in. You can find a tree stand at just about any superstore (such as Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.) during the holidays. Some are more complex than others, so figuring out which one will be easiest for you and your family is a must.

Water it often. Don’t forget that this is a live tree so it needs to be tended too. Keeping water in the tree stand is important, and typically you’ll need to water it every five to seven days. Water by itself is good, but here’s a little tip: put some sugar in it. Putting a little bit of sugar in the water will help the tree stay fresh and it works just like plant food. Be warned, however, that putting too much sugar into the water can be bad for the tree, so be generous but don’t dump the whole bag in the pitcher of water.

Hope your cat or dog doesn’t tear it down. So this one is a bit more difficult, but is important. Family pets love Christmas trees. It’s this bright and shiny new toy that they really want to play with, and they most likely will. Cats love to climb the trees; dogs and cats can steal ornaments (aka break them). I can’t tell you how many Christmas’ my family had to tie our tree to the staircase to keep the cats from toppling it over. The more falls it takes and the more your pet plays with it will reduce the life span – oh and make a huge, needle and glass filled mess.

Image courtesy of Ralph Hockens
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