Whether you’re considering your first real Christmas tree this year or you’ve had one for years, make the whole process easier with these 10 real Christmas tree tips.
Since Kennedy was born, we haven’t missed a trip out to the tree farm in late November to pick out our perfect, absolute best, real Christmas tree. Some years we’ve even picked up more than one. We’ve had fun with it since that first 2-hour trip out of downtown Toronto and we’ve learned a lot along the way too. As we set up our tree this year we realized just how much we have learned and decided to pass along some tips that you don’t often see in your typical blog post or magazine article. These are less about picking the right tree and more about real-life experience that makes for a completely successful endeavor. We hope these tips will help you have a successful experience as well with your real Christmas tree.
10 Tips to Make Your Real Christmas Tree a Success
Find Your Farm, Make it a Tradition
In 15 years we’ve purchased our real Christmas tree from a grand total of 2 tree farms: one when we lived in Toronto and another since we moved. It’s possible that neither were the best around or the most convenient but both became THE Christmas tree farm for our family. It’s more about the tradition of going out into the trees and making the most of the quality time rather sinking effort and energy into researching and reading reviews trying to find the best farm or the best deal. Be creative, have fun and make the most of your trip out to your Christmas tree farm.
Get a Good Stand and Mat
Let’s get the shopping list out of the way:
Tree Stand – Before you even head out to the farm, purchase a good stand or even a really good stand. Our stand is more in the good range than the really good range but we’ve been able to make small ‘adjustments’ based on the balance of our tree. Our first stand was in the ‘what a great deal!’ range and I can’t tell you how happy I was when we tossed that one out.
Floor Mat – Another concern you must consider before you go out and get your tree is protecting the floor under your tree. Watering a Christmas tree can be a tricky with many spills so make sure that beautiful flooring under your tree is well-protected.
Take More Than You Need
Most farms price their trees based on height thresholds. Maximize your purchase and your fun and get the biggest tree you can find while staying within your preferred pricing tier. When you get home you can cut off the excess from the bottom and enjoy the bonus natural greenery. Bonus, Bonus: trim the stump a half inch at a time and make little pucks to use as ornaments.
Tips to Help You Set up your Real Christmas Tree
Work Outside, Choose Your Path
Once you’ve picked out, packed up and brought your tree home, it’s time to set it up. Remember, this tree has lived almost its entire life outside and it might not be ready to come into you home just yet. Or more importantly, you might not be ready for the mess it’ll make if you don’t clean it up first, so it’s best to do all this set-up outside where a little mess is okay.
Choose your work area based on where the tree will go in your home and the spaces it will travel through to get there. You’ll want to carry your tree through the largest doorways and across the easiest-to-clean surfaces. Also, move any valuable objects that can be knocked over or filled with errant pine needles.
Remember Tip #3, when we found a tree that looked a little taller than we needed? Now’s the time to fix that. Measure the height of your ceiling or the height you want the tree to reach in your space. Then consider the height of your stand and your topper. Now measure and mark the trunk of your tree to the perfect height.
Cut the Trunk Square And Clean it up.
Once you’ve figured out your ideal height, you can now cut the trunk clean and square. The straighter the cut the easier it will balance. This is key to a stable tree and it’s much easier to make the perfect cut now rather than out in the field laying down in the snow. Start removing the lowest branches until you have enough trunk to fit into your stand and, if you choose to use a tree collar, clean up your trunk high enough to fit that as well. Make clean, straight cuts close to the circumference of the trunk.
Clean up the Tree
Before we place the tree into the stand, while holding it upright, bang the flat bottom on the trunk against a hard surface, shake it and brush your arm up and down the branches. This will remove a surprising number of dry needles from the centre of the tree. Also, look through the branches and remove any dead weeds or tall grasses that grew up through the tree in the summer.
Make it Sturdy
When you finally get your tree into the stand make sure it is sturdy. Give it a push and a pull. Lean the stand up on its edge a little bit and see if it rocks back and stands straight. The last thing you want is your tree falling over after you’ve decorated it to perfection.
Even if it requires a bit of fuss, don’t just settle one of these:
Figure Out an Easy Way to Water it
The last tip to finding success with your real Christmas tree is finding out a way to easily water it. If watering your tree is messy or difficult you might be less inclined to actually do it and your tree will dry out, die and become a huge mess. Find the right funnel, pitcher or plant watering system and keep it handy for routine waterings.
Hopefully those tips will help you with your adventures this year and for many Christmas’ to come.
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.