Picking out a Christmas tree can be a great family tradition that can bring everyone together to pick out the perfect evergreen as this year’s Christmas tree. Christmas trees come in many varieties, shapes, sizes and even many different shades of green. For this reason you should shop for a tree during the daytime.
Start by finding a Christmas tree farm near you. Know what you are looking for. Below are some helpful tips on how to pick a Christmas tree.
Preparing for Your Visit
Dress warm. Wear warm clothes, gloves and boots if it’s cold or wet. Other items that you may not think of are a measuring tape, hand saw (if not provided), a piece of plastic to kneel on, a bandana or ribbon to mark favorites for comparison. An old blanket and ropes may come in handy if you plan to tie the tree on your car.
Many u-cut Christmas tree farms will provide a saw if you don’t have one and some farms are really “choose-and-cut” which means they will do all the cutting and hauling for you. Visit their website or call ahead if you have any questions. In fact, it’s always best to call smaller farms to make sure they’re available at the time you’d like to go and that they still have a good selection. If you don’t know where it is make sure to ask for directions or whether people have a problem finding them by GPS.
How Tall Can Your Christmas Tree Be?
What is the height of the ceiling where the tree is going? If the ceiling is 9 ft, then plan to buy a tree at least 18 inches shorter. 7 ft 6 inches will allow for a foot for the tree topper and 6 inches for the tree stand. Also plan to cut 1-2” off the base when you get the tree home (see my tips for caring for a Christmas tree).
Picking a Christmas Tree
U-Cut / Choose-and-Cut Christmas Trees
The first trees to get picked over tend to be the ones near the parking lot, so the other end of the farm may offer a better selection. There are many different <!—future –>varieties of Christmas trees that may be available depending on your area and the Christmas tree farm. This may be simply a personal preference. Some people prefer a slender tree, like a Fir or Cypress, while others prefer a fuller tree like a Spruce or Pine.
Pre-Cut Christmas Trees
For pre-cut Christmas trees you will want check out these tips for making sure you pick a tree that is fresh. First of all, you should avoid pre-cut trees at most large chains and supermarkets. Most of these are cut way in advance of being shipped to the store – not too fresh. For real pre-cut lots narrow down your favorites and try a few of these tricks to check to see how fresh they contenders are. Leave a good “handle” or stump on the tree you cut so you can later trim off 1-2 inches.
- With the last 6 inches of a branch place your thumb and forefinger on the needles and run them down to the end of the branch like you would if it were a feather. The needles shouldn’t fall off. They should be flexible and resilient.
- Feel the bottom or butt of the trunk. If it is sappy and moist then the tree is fresh.
- Try bending the needles to check for resilience. If it does not break, but springs back into position, then the tree is fresh.
- Bump the base of the tree on the ground and notice any outside needles falling off. These should stay firmly attached if fresh or only a few should fall off. Inside needles may fall off as they may be naturally stuck from autumn.
Getting the Tree Home
The tree should be shaken to remove the loose needles and bailing the tree will wrap up the branches to help it fit inside your car or truck. If you plan to put the tree on top of your car then plan on bringing an old blanket to lay down to avoid scratches. Aim the base or the ‘butt end’ forward so branches don’t catch the wind. If you have a luggage rack you can secure it in at least two places on each side so it doesn’t move. You can also run the rope through your doors or windows (if you don’t need to open your doors). It’s also a good idea to run a rope to the front and back of the vehicle.
Drive safe and stop to check your tree after a few miles of driving. If the tree has shifted then re-tie it. Once you get home you can keep the fresh tree in a buck of water in a cool place until you’re ready for it.
Then before putting the tree in the stand you should cut a disc off the bottom. For information on this and more be sure to read our article on How to Care for a Real Christmas Tree. Follow those tips and your very own Christmas tree will stay beautiful the entire holiday season.