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, no matter what kind of tree you select or where you live, these indispensable rules apply to all.

Know Your Maximum Size

Plan before you purchase your tree. 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. 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

Nothing kills the holiday 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 evergreen. Gentle shaking should also result in very little needle drop. If not, keep looking.

Re-cut The Trunk

Once home re-cut the trunk about 1/4 inch above the end to aid in water absorption. (If you don't have a saw, most places will do this for you.) Place your tree in the stand with water within an hour, or the pores will seal.

Here is a complete list of tips from Utah State University Extension
  • Gently pull on the needles. They should be tightly attached to the twig.
  • Shake the tree vigorously or bounce the butt on the ground. If green needles fall, look further. Dead, brown needles falling from the inner part of the tree may have been shed years ago and are less of a problem.
  • Check that the tree has a fresh, green color. Some trees are sprayed with a blue-green dye. This dye is harmless but be sure it's not hiding a dry tree.
  • Buy early before all of the desirable trees have been sold.
  • Fir and pine trees hold needles better than spruce trees.
  • Break a few needles. They should be flexible and will feel moist or possibly sticky. They should also be fragrant when crushed.
  • Be sure limbs are strong enough to support lights and ornaments. Limbs should also be well placed to give the tree a pleasing shape. Minor defects can often be turned toward a wall, however, and can lower the purchase price.
  • Ask the dealer if the tree was locally grown. Local trees are much more likely to be fresh because they are cut nearer Christmas and aren't shipped long distances.

Remember to recycle and reuse after Christmas! Christmas trees can be useful even after they are taken down. Trees can be placed in the yard to add greenery and act as a bird haven until spring. Christmas trees can be used for firewood or chopped up and used as a mulch. Many communities have programs to gather trees after Christmas to be chipped for mulch or other uses.