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How to Choose a Real Christmas Tree

Real Christmas trees are beautiful, but they also can be expensive. Make sure you get your money’s worth.


  • Step 1: Measure your space Measure the space where you’ll put your tree. Take into account the height added by a tree stand and a top ornament.
  • Step 2: Find a good seller If you don’t have the luxury of going to a farm and cutting down a fresh tree, choose a seller who gets ongoing shipments during the holiday season, and who stores the trees in a shaded area. If the seller keeps the trees in water, even better.
  • Step 3: Decide on a type Consider which type of tree works best for you. White firs, Fraser firs, and Scotch pines all have long-lasting needles, and Scotch pines can handle heavy ornaments. Leyland cypresses are pollen-free, so they’re great for people with allergies.
  • Step 4: Test for freshness Lift the tree and then set it down roughly; if the needles easily fall off, the tree is already drying out. Other bad signs are wrinkled bark, discolored needles, and a musty odor. And check the cut end of the trunk; a fresh tree will feel sticky thanks to sap.
  • TIP: Look for a tree with a straight trunk; it will work better in a tree stand.
  • Step 5: Check out the branches If the tree is tied up, ask to see how they unfold so you can check for bare spots.
  • Step 6: Keep it hydrated As soon as you get home, saw at least a half an inch off the trunk so the tree can absorb water more easily. If you’re not decorating the tree right away, leave it outside in a shaded area, standing in a bucket of water.
  • FACT: The first record of a decorated Christmas tree was in Latvia in 1510, when a merchants’ guild trimmed one in roses in the marketplace.

You Will Need

  • A tape measure
  • A freshness test

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