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.

You will need

  • A tape measure
  • A freshness test

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.

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.