Oh Christmas Tree - How Lovely Are Your Branches

Monday, December 12, 2011

Early last December my friends took their two year old twins to a tree farm for the first time.  They enjoyed a magical day selecting and cutting their tree, driving it home, and setting it up.  Over the next few days they spent many hours lovingly adorning it with lights and ornaments.  They enjoyed the beautiful tree for several weeks — even as they became uneasy about the massive quantity of needles dropping.  Three days before Christmas their tree was nothing but bare branches with heaps (HEAPS!) of needles beneath it.  This could not be the backdrop for their Christmas morning photos!  Off they went to select and then decorate a replacement tree.

For many, the Christmas tree is the centerpiece of the holiday celebration and also one of the biggest headaches.  Following are some things to consider to avert disaster with your own Tannenbaum.

Do Your Homework

Before you head out to pick your tree, measure and measure again the height of your ceiling.  Be sure to make deductions for the tree stand as well as the tree topper.

Fresh is Best

For the freshest tree, choose and cut your own at a tree farm.  Pre-cut trees can also be very fresh, particularly if they come from a local farm and thus haven’t been shipped long distances.  Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources recommends the following tests for freshness:

• Bend several needles on the tree. If they spring back into shape, the tree is fresh. If they break or remain bent, the tree has dried out too much.

• Tap the base of the tree on a hard surface. If many needles fall off, the tree is too dry. The tree should have a pungent evergreen smell, and its branches should be full and springy.

• Feel the base of the tree. It should be moist and sappy. Make sure that the base is small enough to fit into your stand.

Minimize Drying

The ride home can dry out your tree.  Place it inside your vehicle, when possible.  Otherwise, wrap it in a tarp to minimize drying.  At home, keep the tree in the basement or garage for a couple days before moving it into the house.  Bringing it immediately into your warm home can shock your tree and cause it to lose needles prematurely.  Cut one inch off the base, with a diagonal cut, and place the tree in a bucket of water until you’re ready to bring it into your home.


• Be sure your tree is firmly anchored so it doesn’t topple.

• Water your tree daily.

• Don’t place your tree near a radiator or other heat source.

• Avoid blocking an exit.

• Use only UL-approved decorations, and turn them off when you’re away or sleeping.

Photo via www.pinevalleyfarms.com