Expert Advice on Planning for Your Real Christmas Tree

Six buying tips from real Christmas tree farmers.

Whether it’s the natural scent, incredible look, or that nostalgic feeling of childhood memories, there are wonderful benefits to getting a real Christmas tree.

If you’ve never bought a natural Christmas tree, or this is your first year doing it on your own, the buying process might be intimidating. But have no fear, there are simple tips to keep in mind to help you find the perfect tree to fill your home with holiday joy.

1. Find Your Spot

Scope out the best spot in your home for your Christmas tree. Make sure it’s not too close to a heat source, like a radiator or a window, since heat and sun tend to dry trees out more quickly. Also, measure your chosen spot, considering ceiling height and space width, so you can get an idea of what size tree will fit.

2. Evaluate Your Tree Stand

Before you head out to your local retailer, take a look at your tree stand, if you have one. You should confirm how wide the opening is, how much weight it can withstand, if it has a post at the bottom, and how much water it can hold. Most retailers sell stands, so you can pick one up with your tree if needed. When it comes to water capacity, you want to have a quart of water per inch of trunk diameter.

Hot tip: If there is a post in your stand, visit a location that drills trees for pin stands. Typically, Choose and Cut Farms and some seasonal lots will provide this service. Check in advance to be sure.

3. Decide Where You’ll Find ‘The One’

Looking for a holiday adventure to choose and cut your own tree? Or are you shorter on time but still want to have a fun holiday outing? Some places have family-friendly activities, and some get right down to business. Your tree buying experience is up to you (but it might be dictated by your kids’ attention spans). Use our retail locator to help pinpoint a lot near you.

4. Check It Twice

When you think you’ve found ‘the one,’ be sure to check the needle retention. Gently pull or run your hand down a branch. It should feel somewhat supple in your hand. If brown needles or a few green needles come off during this test, no worries. But if quite a few green needles come off, you may want to select a different tree.

Hot tip: If there is a tree shaker, ask to have your tree shaken. That will help get any brown needles or debris removed. Plus, it’s fun to watch!

5. Get It Home Safely

If you aren’t cutting your own tree, request to have about an inch cut off the bottom of the trunk. The fresh cut will allow the tree to immediately drink up water, assuring the tree won’t go thirsty or dry out.
Some places will bale your tree for you, making it easier to secure to your car roof or truck bed. When you place your tree on your car roof, make sure the tree trunk is facing forward to protect the branches.
Once you get your tree home, get the trunk into water right away, even if you aren’t putting it up just yet. Just like you, your tree needs plenty of water, so make sure you keep the stand full. Also, remember that the branches will need some time to settle (especially if the tree was just unbaled), so give your tree a little breather before you start decorating.

6. Enjoy the Memories

Finally, don’t forget to have fun! This truly is the most wonderful time of the year. And the experience of getting a real Christmas tree creates memories and traditions that your loved ones, especially children, will cherish for years to come. Inhale, exhale. Smell that wonderful aroma?