How To Shop for the Right Christmas Tree
Choosing a Real Christmas Tree
There's no substitution for a real Christmas tree. Artificial ones may be gaining in popularity, but how many family memories are really created by dragging a dusty fake tree down from the attic or out of the corner of the garage?
To make your real tree experience the best ever, I offer this advice. Through trial and much error, I've found that no matter what kind of tree you select or where you live, these indispensable rules apply to all.
Know Your Maximum Size
My husband, David, is a big-tree kind of man, and as a result, I had to become a garland-making kind of woman. Rather than spending all afternoon hacking away at limbs and trunks, we now do as Georgetown, Texas, interior designer Linda McCalla suggests: We plan before we buy.
To calculate your maximum tree size, measure the height of your ceiling and then subtract 1 foot. This will allow ample room for a topper, such as a star. Keep girth in mind, too: the smaller the room, the skinnier the tree should be--unless of course there's very little furniture. Then a full tree is actually a welcome addition.
Check for Freshness on the Lot
Nothing kills that Christmas mood quite like a tree with no needles. Run your fingers down a branch before you buy. All needles should stay intact, and your hand should smell like your evergreen of choice. Gentle shaking should also result in very little needle drop. If not, keep looking.
Even with diligent care, cut trees only last about 10 days. Your best bet is to cut your own from a farm or to purchase one from a store or lot that offers trees harvested within days of delivery. High prices don't always guarantee freshness, and rock-bottom tags often yield bad results too.
Recut the Trunk on an Angle
Once home, I'm ready to decorate--but not before recutting the trunk about 1 inch above the butt end to aid in water absorption. If you don't have a saw, most places will do this for you. Get your tree into a bucket of water within an hour of cutting, or the pores will seal and your effort will be in vain.
If the tree is fresh-cut from a farm, then go ahead and put it in the stand. Otherwise, soak it in a bucket of water outside overnight. I like to spray mine down with a hose to remove debris and help hydrate the needles.