We all love Charlie Brown but that doesn’t mean your Christmas tree has to stand as a tribute to him. Read these suggestions before buying a cut tree and you won’t be confused with the Peanuts comic character.
The first thing you should do is decide where you’re going to buy your tree. The freshest tree is one from a local Christmas tree farm. At many, you have the choice of cutting your own tree or having farm staff members cut it for you. Even the pre-cut trees at a local farm are usually fresher than those sold by sellers who pop up on street corners or in vacant lots. Those vendors buy their trees from growers who may be miles away and cut their trees months ago.
Make tree shopping a family affair. Before you go, though, do some research on the available species. Fir, spruce and pine are the three most popular Christmas tree species in this area. Douglas, balsam and fraser fir are the main Christmas tree species. Firs have soft, flat needles with rounded tips. Norway, white and blue are our popular species of spruce. Spruce have short, sharp needles that grow thickly on the branches. The most popular pine is white pine. This has long, soft needles that grow five to a cluster. Scots pine, another popular tree, has stiff, short needles that grow two to a cluster.
Before leaving for your Christmas tree outing, it’s also important to measure the space where the tree will go. Measure the available floor space, but also measure the floor to ceiling space. When determining how tall your tree can be, include the angel at the top and the height of the stand in your calculations. Also measure the diameter of the opening in your stand. Reducing the trunk’s diameter to make it fit the stand can damage the tree and shorten its life.
Unless you cut the tree yourself, put it through this battery of tests to check its freshness:
- Bend a few needles – fresh firs snap, pines don’t.
- Pull on a branch to be sure the needles are secure.
- Rap the trunk butt on the ground to see if the needles fall.
Be sure the trunk is straight or its lean will look funny when you put it in the stand. If you fall in love with a tree that isn’t straight, ask the tree farm if they are able to fix it. Some have a jig that they place the tree in and then drill a hole in the base. You’ll need a special stand that they can sell you. It has a pin in the bottom that fits into the drilled hole to keep the tree straight. There is also a tree stand on the market whose base can swivel to make a tree look straight.
Be sure the workers at the tree farm bale your tree to protect it on the way home. When you get it home, cut a half-inch off the bottom and place the tree in a bucket of water. Keep it in a cool, sheltered place until you’re ready to bring it indoors. Put it in the garage a few days before you’re planning to take it inside so it can acclimate to the warmer interior environment.
I like to buy my tree early so I can take care of it, rather then leaving its care to the tree farm people. Don’t be too hasty taking the tree indoors. The warmer temperature could shorten its life.