With the holidays just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to get your Christmas tree. And with over 20 million Christmas trees sold in the US each year, there are plenty to choose from.
>> See our article on Decorating With a Live Christmas Tree if you’d like to try something different this year.
Here are our best tips to help you choose the perfect cut tree this year.
Decide Where to Place Your Christmas Tree
First things first – before rushing out to buy the best-looking tree you can find, decide where you’ll put it once you get it home.
If you can, put the tree in a spot where it’ll be highly visible but out of the way. You don’t want people bumping into it, knocking off ornaments, or tripping over the presents under the tree.
Avoid putting your tree in a hot or very sunny location where it’ll dry out more quickly. Radiators, heating vents, and fireplaces can also pose a fire risk if the tree is placed too close.
Finally, measure the area you’ve chosen so you can pick a tree that will fill the space without overwhelming it. Add a few inches height for the tree stand and topper.
Decide What Type of Tree to Get
You’ll probably see several different types of trees at the tree lot, each with its own unique characteristics. Below are the five most common Christmas trees.
The Scots pine (also called Scotch pine) is the top selling Christmas tree in the USA due to its bright green color, excellent survival rate and great needle retention.
Next up is the Douglas fir. With a straight trunk, soft needles and sweet aroma, the Douglas fir accounts for nearly half of all Christmas trees grown in the US.
The Balsam fir has a slender, symmetrical shape, dense foliage and a spicy fragrance, making it another favorite at Christmas time.
Another good choice is the Fraser fir. With a nice pyramid shape, excellent needle retention, and beautiful dark green needles with silver underneath, it’s an attractive option for your Christmas tree.
Finally, the Noble fir has short, blue-green needles that turn upward, exposing its branches. The stiff branches are good for hanging heavy ornaments and can also be used for wreaths, door swags and garland.
Choose a Quality Tree
There are several things to look for when choosing your Christmas tree.
First, is the tree straight, especially at the bottom where it’ll go into the tree stand? A crooked trunk won’t magically straighten out when you get it home…
How about the shape? Is it tall and skinny, or short and wide? Will it fit in the space you’ve chosen for it?
What about the branches? Is there room to hang your ornaments or is the tree too full for them to fit? Are the branches strong enough to hold your favorite ornaments or decorations?
Is the tree fresh? Look for greener (or blue-green) trees with no signs of wilting or browning. And don’t be fooled by the colorizer that’s likely been applied to the tree before it was shipped to keep it looking green. Grab the middle of a branch, pull it toward you and then let it slowly slip out of your hand. If lots of needles end up in your hand or the branch feels brittle, walk away.
If it seems OK, then lift the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it butt end down. The shock will knock off dry needles and show you how fresh the tree really is. A few dropped needles are to be expected; any more than that indicates that this isn’t the right tree for you.
Before Bringing Your Christmas Tree Indoors…
A friend of mine came downstairs one Christmas morning to find the family tree covered in gorgeous gossamer threads. Beautiful. Until she realized that it was spiders hatching and cascading down the tree on spider webs.
Before you bring your tree indoors, cut off the bottom of the trunk (a freshly-cut trunk will absorb water more easily), remove any loose needles or debris, and check for insects, egg masses, or any other unwanted critters.
And with that, you’re ready to start decorating your tree!