Cutting and decorating the family Christmas tree has provided some of my best holiday memories. My family lived on a farm and would cut a wild red cedar from the pasture. We would trek out looking for the one — that perfect tree for the house.
Finding the perfect tree can be exhausting. Here are tips to help you find one and care for it so it lasts.
First, know your space: When looking at trees in wide-open spaces they look smaller. It’s amazing how trees tend to grow once in the home. Know the height and width of where it will stand. One-sided trees (those with gaping holes on one side) may be perfect if space is limited. They can be pushed closer to the wall or window.
Gauge freshness: Bounce the tree on the ground. A fresh tree should drop few needles when bounced on a hard surface. If a lot of needles fall from the tree, this is a warning of what will happen in the home after a few days or weeks. Run your fingers down the needles. They should feel moist and flexible. Run your hand against the flow of the needles. They should also feel fresh and flexible when pulled back. Look for another tree if the needles feel dry or inflexible.
Keep it in water: Cut at least one inch from the base before setting it up then place it in water immediately. Water the tree with warm water to help keep the natural resins from plugging the vascular system of the tree. Tree preservatives or homemade concoctions of aspirin or lemon-lime soda do not work. If you wish, you can add a few drops of chlorine bleach to inhibit algae growth and keep the water fresh. Initially the tree may drink a gallon or more of water a day.
Move it away from warm drafts: Dry air from a heat vent or fireplace will quickly dehydrate the tree, shortening its life and increasing the chance of a fire.