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How To Shop for a Fresh Christmas Tree

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Don't select a Christmas tree until you make an inspection of the space the Christmas tree will be placed in your home. That will be a personal choice with some reminders. Your selected space should be as far away from heat sources and air ducts as possible. Take quick measurement of Christmas tree height and width for the spot you have selected. It is a real pain to deal with a holiday tree too big for the selected space. Now lets go shop for your next Christmas tree.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 4 hours

Here's How:

  1. Research different Christmas tree types and pick the species that fits your situation. Look at my selection of the 10 most favorite Christmas trees but remember that only a few of these will be available in your area (see Tip #1)
  2. Take my introductory advice on where in the house to put the Christmas tree. Avoid spots close to heat sources like TVs, fireplaces, radiators and air ducts. Measure the height you have available to avoid modifying your "too tall" Christmas tree later. Find a holiday tree one foot shorter than your ceiling height.
  3. If you are cutting a Christmas tree, you know how fresh the tree is. But when you buy a pre-cut Christmas tree, the tree may have been cut weeks earlier. Always try and find you Christmas tree early and before the best trees have been sold. Delaying your cut Christmas tree purchase only increases its exposure to harmful elements. Don't be shy; ask the retailer how long his/her Christmas trees have been cut. See Tip #2 for an Internet option where shipped trees are guaranteed cut fresh.
  4. Choose a fresh Christmas tree by looking for the greenest tree with the fewest brown needles. A problem here can be that many shipped-to-lot trees have been colored prior to shipping. With this in mind, remember that coloring is a common practice and will not negatively effect a tree's freshness.
  5. Perform the "drop test". Raise the Christmas tree a few inches and drop on its butt end. Green needles should not drop off. If they do, you have a tree with excessive drying and that may have been cut for some time. Some species have excellent needle retention so remember that when choosing a variety (see Tip #1). A few inner brown needles from the tree's annual shed will drop off so do not be concerned with this.
  6. I want to emphasize that the main thing to remember is freshness when selecting a holiday tree. The needles should be resilient. Another important check is to take hold of a branch and lightly pull your hand toward you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Most, if not all, of the needles need to stay on the tree.
  7. Look for and avoid Christmas trees with a wilted or grayish blue-green look. Even with color added you can visually see wilt and dessication. Look and feel for any unusual stiffness and brittleness of a tree's limbs, twigs and needles - all can be indications of an "old" tree.
  8. Always inspect the Christmas tree's base. Make sure the "handle" (the first eight inches of butt) of the tree is relatively straight. This part of the tree is extremely important when securing the tree in a stand. Make sure removing any limbs attached to the "handle" won't hurt the tree shape.
  9. Always check a Christmas tree for insects and egg masses before bringing inside. Most retailers have "shakers" that remove debris from trees. In any event, make sure dead needles and trash is shaken out or blown from tree.

Tips:

  1. Review Top 10 Commercial Christmas Trees for species information.
  2. Review Purchase an Internet Christmas Tree.
  3. Review Christmas Tree Buyers Guide for purchasing information.
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Tips for Picking a Christmas Tree

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