Selecting the Perfect Christmas Tree

Breathe deeply! The scent of evergreen comes around only once a year!  Taking the family to select a live Christmas tree is a memorable tradition. Use the following tips to choose the healthiest symbol of the season for your family. 

Pre-Cut Trees 

Parking lots, grocery and home-improvement stores may string white lights to illuminate hundreds of available evergreens.  While this accommodates the shopper’s needs, tens of thousands of trees are pre-cut a month in advance and shipped rather than purchased from a local tree farm; therefore, it’s essential to first assess the tree for freshness.  

  • Can you smell the fir fragrance? 
  • Are the trees exposed to wind and placed in the full sun?  If so, the tree will most likely lose its needles quickly.  
  • Squeeze the needles on a branch.  Do they appear brittle or snap immediately?
  • Run your hand over the needles.  The desired result—flex and bounce!   
  • Elevate the tree by a few inches and drop it to the ground. This test will determine its freshness!  
  • Look at the color of the needles.  Always choose a tree that is bright green.  Grey needles indicate water deprivation and dying.   
  • Turn the tree around 360 degrees to assess it has a straight trunk and equal distribution of branches.  

Tip: If possible, talk to the owner and ask if the trees are local or out of state. Knowing the location will help you decide to stay or shop elsewhere. 

 Cut Your Own 

Tradition encourages the annual event of traveling to a local tree farm.  Farm shoppers will find a broader selection of tree species and colors ranging from dark green to blue.  In North Carolina, options include the blue and Norway spruce, the Arizona Cypress, the Carolina Sapphire, and the blue ice. But of course, the most popular is the Fraser Fir, desired for its two-tone needles.  Sometimes, you’ll find an unrecognizable evergreen, such as the Korean Fir, and claim it as the new favorite. Begin by assessing its trunk.  Look for deep cuts and injuries near the base.  Brittle needles may signal a dying tree. 

Tip:  Don’t expect the tree farm to assist you when you secure your tree to the roof of your car.  Be prepared with adequate lengths of rope.  

Will it Fit? 

Optics are deceiving. The evergreen growing in the great outdoors is most likely too big for your living room.  Take time to measure the ceiling height and the width of its intended space, and jot those numbers down!  Measure the height of your tree stand and tree topper.  Lastly, record the diameter of the tree stand, ensuring the trunk will fit with room to maintain water levels.  After collecting the figures, determine the maximum height and width of your new arrival.  You’ll want to leave a minimum of six inches between the tree topper and the ceiling.  Without this effort, an overlarge tree may result in cutting branches, reducing the tree’s beauty, and perhaps  eliminating furniture from the room, as well. 

Extra Supplies

  • Don’t forget to take a tape measure with you!  
  • Some branches will scratch the skin; therefore, pack at least two pairs of gloves—one for the person holding the tree and the other for the individual using the saw. 
  • As tree farms often correlate height with price, bring clippers to cut the top, ensuring the cost matches your needs.  

Prepare for the Homecoming 

While family members will want to start decorating immediately, the evergreen needs preparation.  Always cut two inches from the base with a manual saw to expose a fresh layer, allowing water absorption; then, directly place the tree in a five-gallon bucket of hot water for at least two hours. 

Eager decorators must wait a little longer. Allow the tree to relax its limbs in the warmth of the house; afterward, the decorating can commence! 

Check Water Levels 

Caring for the Christmas tree is an honorable job.  Consider assigning the task to a responsible child.  Model the expectation of placing one finger into the water reservoir to define an adequate level; then, have a quarter-filled, long-spouted watering can on hand.  The perfect tool for few to no messes!  

With proper care, the evergreen will remain fresh for up to six weeks.  




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