How Do You Choose a Christmas Tree?

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Each holiday season between 25 and 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the United States. For many families, the Christmas tree is one of the most important parts of their holiday celebration. Here are some tips for how to prepare for, select, set up, and care for the perfect Christmas tree.

Research Tree Species
More than 35 species of evergreen trees are grown and sold as Christmas trees in the United States. Each species has a distinct shape, smell, and needle texture. While selection may be somewhat limited depending on region, research into different kinds of trees can help buyers find the perfect variety. Popular Christmas tree species include Douglas fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine, and balsam fir.

Measure the Space
A Christmas tree that seems perfect on the lot won’t work if it’s too large to fit in the living room. Before going to the lot to pick out a tree, clear away furniture from the tree’s place in the living room and measure both the depth of the space and the height of the room’s ceiling. Be sure to account for the height that the christmas tree stand and the tree topper will add. Knowing these dimensions ahead of time will prevent the headache that comes with bringing home a tree that’s too tall or too wide.

Check for Freshness
Most Christmas trees have been cut three or four weeks before they arrive at the lot. A tree that was cut more than a month prior to being sold will become dehydrated and begin to lose needles sooner than a tree that has been recently cut. Locally sourced Christmas trees are generally the freshest, because they have been transported a shorter distance to the tree lot.

Testing the branches of a tree can help determine if it’s fresh enough to take home. If gently pulling on or shaking a branch releases a significant amount of needles, it’s likely that the tree is beyond its prime. Similarly, if a handful of crushed pine needles does not smell strongly of pine, it’s likely that the tree will not last longer than a few weeks once it’s brought home.

Freshen the Trunk
Before setting up the tree, cut about half an inch off of the tree’s trunk. The cut area will absorb more moisture, helping the tree stay hydrated. This will help the branches retain needles and prevent the tree from losing its color prematurely. After making the cut, submerge the trunk in water as quickly as possible.

Hydrate the Tree
After the tree has been secured in its stand, fill the stand with clean water. Cut trees absorb water at varying rates, so it is important to check the water level in the stand and refill it often, before the water drops below the cut end. Christmas trees have the capacity to absorb up to a gallon of water in the first 24 hours after they are set up.