When picking out a Christmas tree, there are several things to think about besides “Where can I find one?” and “How do I cut down a tree, anyway?”
This checklist of questions to ask yourself (or your parents or your better half) should help you find just the right tree for your home.
How big should this tree be?
You’ll want to do a bit of measuring before you head out to the farm or the store to pick up a Christmas tree. Think height and width. Measure from floor to ceiling and consider what, if anything, you’ll use to top your tree. Also think about how tall your tallest tree decorator is or possibly how much of a boost a step ladder can give you. This should help steer clear of using a mini trampoline to fix the star on top of the tree. If the tree is too wide for the room, you may have people brushing into it, knocking needles off, or fewer places to sit down if a chair has to be sacrificed for the tree. Trimming a tree down too much can make it look scruffy. Try to get one that truly fits your home.
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How sturdy does it need to be?
Think about your ornaments. If quite a few of them are fairly heavy, a tree with thicker branches will serve you better than a delicate tree. If most of your ornaments are made of popsicle sticks and macaroni, a less sturdy tree should work just fine. Jerry Youngblood, who owns A&A Christmas Trees with his wife Dianne, said Fraser firs tend to be sturdy enough for heavier ornaments. They’re his favorite even though the trees, native to the mountains further north, don’t grow in the Lowcountry.
How soft do I need the needles to be?
If there are youngsters in your home or if there will be some visiting, you might want to consider getting a tree with softer needles. The National Christmas Tree Association has a cheat sheet to help folks get to know different varieties of trees.
How long is this tree going to live?
A lot of that depends on you, according to The Family Tree Christmas Tree Farm owner Milledge Morris. Trees need water. Some larger ones can drink more than one gallon per day, Morris said. He recommended keeping your Christmas tree outside in the shade in a tree stand with water for as long as possible before it’s brought inside to decorate. Too much heat and not enough humidity can strangle trees, and they’ll start to die. Once a tree goes downhill, there’s no going back, he said. A tree can last anywhere from two or three weeks to two or three months depending on how you want to care for it.
How much space do we need under the tree?
If the plan is to fit presents or a little train under the tree, you may need to select a tree with some space at the bottom. Some tree stands even need a little extra trunk and fewer lower branches, Milledge pointed out. Consult with Santa and the family on where the presents will sit before heading out to snag a tree.
Where is this going to sit in my house?
Definitely not too close to anything that could catch fire. Also keep it away from any heat vents — when the tree gets too hot, it will start to die. Some folks like to have their tree in a window, some in a corner, some surrounded by furniture. Morris said one family on Fripp Island even hangs their giant tree from a vaulted ceiling each year. “Get what you want and have fun,” he said, no matter how or where you like your tree.
Is my pet going to wreak havoc on this tree?
That depends on your furry friend, but there’s really only one way to find out ... . But the ASPCA offers tips on making sure Fido and Fluffy are safe this holiday season.