Choosing and cutting our Christmas Tree
is one of my families most cherished traditions. Every year, on the Friday following Thanksgiving, we head out to the tree farms and we search for the perfect tree; then we come home and let Christmas loose in our home. By choosing a tree so early in the year, we have to make sure we choose the right tree and care for it correctly, or it will be sure to die long before Christmas day. With eight years of Christmas Tree choices under our belt, we have learned a few things (and made a few mistakes) about what tree to choose, how to prep it, and how to care for it once it is in our home.
General Tips for Choosing The Perfect Christmas Tree:
If possible, head to a tree farm and cut your own tree. Not only is the memories priceless, but the tree you get will, in general, be healthier and last much longer.
Look the tree over, make sure that their is not too much yellowing or any tree fungus. Also, shake the tree to make sure that the pine needles aren’t falling off.
If you cut your own tree, have it shaken and baled at the lot. This will cost a bit more most likely, but it is worth it. After it is baled, cover the tree with a tarp or plastic bag to make sure that it does not dry out on the way home.
If you have to buy a tree at a tree lot, shake it like crazy to make sure that it is not too dry. A dry tree will lose it needles easily.
Remember, once a tree is cut, it begins to die. Everything you do from this point forward is to simply help preserve the tree.
Tips for Cutting the Bottom of Your Christmas Tree and Preparing it for the House
To survive the holiday season, your tree must be able to soak up water. The largest mistake anyone makes with a fresh cut Christmas Tree is letting the bottom dry out or letting the bottom sap-over. If you would like your tree to not lose all of its needles by Christmas, you must care for it correctly.
Once you get the tree home, and you are ready to place it, you will need to cut off the sap seal that has formed on the bottom of the tree. A sap seal is like a scab on an open wound, and it will keep your family Christmas Tree from soaking up water. To cut the sap seal, you need to remove approximately two inches from the bottom of the tree. Once this is done, get it into your tree stand and immediately fill your stand with warm water.
The first few days are critical for the preservation of your tree. From my experience, I have had a tree absorb nearly two-quarts of water per day for the first week or two in my home. You must check your tree’s water level daily. If you ever let the water completely evaporate, it will form a new sap seal, and you will be forced to let your tree dry out, or you will need to remove it from the base and cut a new section off of the bottom.
General Tips for Preserving Your Fresh Cut Christmas Tree
Keep the tree away from heater vents or direct sunlight. Both of these will dry the tree out prematurely.
Use warm water to water your tree, and only water. I have tried several products including bleach, hairspray, and store-bought mixes. None of them worked as well as water and they all cost more.
When you check your water level daily, inspect the electric lights as well. Make sure there is no fraying, sparking, or brittle plastic on the light wires.
Keep the tree moist – remember moister is the key.