4 steps to choosing the perfect Christmas tree (& keeping it alive)


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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and about that time to get your Christmas tree — that is, if you haven’t already. But before you head out and buy the biggest tree you can find — or the sad Charlie Brown variety — do your holiday homework and keep these tips in mind.


Before you shop

Measure your room. You’ll want a tree 1 foot or more shorter than your room. You should also check the diameter of your tree stand, to make sure it’ll fit.

Decide what kind of tree you want. Douglas firs are the traditional option, though Balsam firs, Noble firs and Fraser firs may retain their needles and scent longer. White spruce trees have strong limbs for heavy ornaments, while the white pine has softer needles but doesn’t hold up as well to ornaments.


While you shop

Especially when shopping shipped trees (i.e., not straight from the farm), look for dryness. Give the tree a good shake to check how many needles fall out. Make sure the base is straight and it’ll fit in your room.


Before you leave

If possible, have about an inch cut off the base of the tree so that it will accept water better, and have an attendant remove any branches on the bottom 6 inches of the base. You can also do this yourself at home. Be sure to transport your tree safely and drive with it base-forward so you don’t lose as many needles.


When you get home

Get your tree in water as soon as possible — if you’re not ready to set it up inside yet, put it in a bucket of water in a garage or other sheltered area. Before moving it inside or unwrapping it, put the tree in its base; it’ll shed fewer needles on your floor.

Bring your tree inside, and set it down somewhere away from warm drafts. Keep it well-watered, and don’t let the bottom of the base become exposed.