Buying the Perfect Christmas Tree

It’s not even mid-November and you are already thinking about the season of twinkling lights and sentimental ornaments, homemade cookies and the wonderful smell of pine permeating throughout the house. For many of us, the official season of Christmas begins with one tradition. Well before the green and red plastic containers are brought out of storage, families drive to their favorite farm or lot in search of the perfect tree.

When Is Too Early?

The children in your home are usually the ones who ask, “When can we start decorating?” Asked enough times, you may hesitate and wonder how long a freshly cut tree can survive. The Christmas Tree Growers Association states, “If cared for correctly, a healthy tree should last six weeks in the home.” Therefore, it makes sense to start early and enjoy the season.

Prior to Selection

In the great outdoors, your perfect tree may appear much smaller. How many times have you underestimated the tree’s height, and ended up paying for the waste of 18 inches? Therefore, use a tape measure to ensure the tree will fit comfortably in the room you have chosen (far from a radiator or fireplace,) and allow adequate room for the tree topper and stand. Unless your goal is to buy what is termed a “slim tree,” it is a good idea to measure horizontally, too. Beautiful layered trees in the traditional symbolic triangular shape, like the Noble fir and the most popular Fraser fir, can extend its branch reach beyond a doorway or envelop a side table. Without measuring, the tree may be the only object that fits in a room. (Yes, a true story, and told annually.)

Picking Out or Timber!

Whether you decide to buy a pre-cut tree or saw your own, there are specific things you need to know before taking it home.  

  • If the tree feels heavy, it is a sign of water content and freshness.
  • Bright and flexible needles are also a good sign. This year, test the tree. Reach out and allow a branch to flow through your fingers and give it a gentle shake. If the needles begin falling beyond a slight sprinkle, move on.
  • Avoid trees that have broken branches, damaged bark, drying or browning needles.
  • Make sure the tree has a fragrant smell.  

Caring and Safety

Remember, in the outdoors, your tree has been home to small animals, spiders, and a number of other creatures you may not wish to allow entrance into your home. The life of your tree will be prolonged if the following procedures occur.

  • Like freshly cut flowers, cutting an extra inch off the bottom of the trunk will encourage the tree to absorb water.
  • Immediately place the tree in warm water mixed with a teaspoon of sugar, either in its tree stand or in a bucket in the garage.  
  • Only cut a few branches off the bottom. Allowing the tree a few hours of time to settle into its natural pose will help you make those necessary cuts.
  • For the first week, check the water level morning and night. Trees need adequate water, and should never go dry.


It’s a sad moment to treasure a Christmas tree, and then to strip its branches of every sentimental ornament, bead, and bow. Other than placing your tree on the curb for pick up, why not create a bird sanctuary right in your own back yard? Nestling between branches, the birds would love to feed off of fresh orange slices and strung popcorn. (Make sure all hooks, tinsel strands, and other remnants are removed.) In this way, the tree can linger a few months longer, and be appreciated by nature. If you want to go step further, with the help of a chipper shredder, the tree still has one more purpose: as mulch!