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How To Enjoy a Perfect Christmas Tree

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  • Dig your Christmas tree stand out of your storage area and set it where you want to locate your tree. Measure the diameter of the opening in the bottom. This will determine the maximum size of tree trunk that will fit into the stand. Before you go shopping for a tree, measure your space (both height and width) so you can find just the right size tree.
  • Decide if you need a tall narrow tree, a tall wide tree, or a short tree. Measure from floor to ceiling for height (remember that you'll put a star or other decoration on the top.) Then measure the floor space that you can use to determine the diameter of the base branches. You can always trim off the branches at the bottom if the tree is too wide, but this might ruin the symmetry of the shape of the tree. The better the tree fits in the space, the better it will look in the room.
  • Before going off to the Christmas tree lot, collect gloves, a tape measure, an old blanket or plastic for the top of your car, rope (some places provide this), and a wood saw (if you're going to be cutting your own tree).
  • Decide what type of tree you like. The most popular are Frasier Fir, which lasts longer but the branches aren't very close together, Balsam, Douglas Fir, or Scotch Pine. Find a tree you like, and then measure the height, width, and trunk diameter to confirm that it will fit in your space.
  • If you're shopping for a cut tree, check the tag to see when the tree was cut. The fresher the better, no matter what variety you choose. Lift the tree off the ground and drop it back to the pavement, base first. If it's dry and drops lots of needles, it's probably not so fresh! Also, grip a branch in the palm of your hand and pull toward the end. Again, no needles should fall off. Make sure that the needles on the tree are bright green, glossy, green, and pliable.
  • If the tree is too tall, you can ask to have some bottom branches cut off. Be sure to keep these for decorations around your home. Have about 2" cut off the bottom of the trunk of the tree to open up the pores.
  • If the tree is small enough, you might be able to fit it into your car or trunk. If it's larger, place it on a blanket or tarp on the roof of the car and tie it down carefully. Some tree lots will put a sleeve of netting around the tree and help you tie it onto the car. You might offer the person a tip for the great help! Drive home slowly, checking to make sure the tree doesn't shift on the top of the car.
  • Place a heavy plastic sheet on the floor beneath the Christmas tree stand to protect you floor. Cut another 1/2" off the bottom of the tree (more if possible) and place it in the tree stand. Secure the tree with the bolts and fill the reservoir with water immediately.
  • If your tree doesn't seem very stable, secure it to something fixed with fishing line or wire. With children and pets wandering around the tree, you want to be sure it won't topple over.
  • Trim off any branches that are too long and choose which tip branch will hold the star or other tree top decoration. Trim it carefully to hold the decoration. Reserve any cut branches for small decorations around the house.
  • A cut Christmas tree will drink a lot of water, especially during the first week. Keep the Christmas tree stand filled with water at all times to keep it from drying out.
  • Now comes the time everyone has been waiting for--decorating the Christmas tree! Put on lights first, then garlands, then filler ornaments, and lastly, the specialty ornaments.
  • When you're ready to take the tree down, take the ornaments off in the opposite order you put them on the tree. Pack them away carefully and neatly so that they won't get damaged. Wind up the light strings carefully, making sure to keep the light bulbs in the sockets.
  • Contact your local trash company or city works department to get information about disposing of your Christmas tree. Under no circumstances should you every burn your Christmas tree!


  • Your Christmas tree lot may offer a cut-tree preservative to put in the water. Use it! Or they may treat their trees with a preservative.
  • Water, water, water! Make yourself reminders to water the tree often.
  • Have a towel handy to wipe up any water spills. There are bound to be some and you wouldn't want to ruin your hardwood floors or carpeting.
  • Do not burn your Christmas tree! Dispose of it properly.

What You Need:

  • Heavy cotton or leather gloves
  • A tape measure
  • Blanket or tarp for the top of your car
  • Twine or bungee cords to secure your tree to top of your car
  • Plastic sheeting to put under the tree stand
  • Christmas tree stand
  • Twine, fishing line, or wire to secure the tree
  • Saw to cut off the bottom of the tree when you get it home
  • Clippers to get rid of extra branches
  • Big pitcher or long funnel for watering

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