With Thanksgiving now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead toward Christmas, which means you’ll likely be in need of a tree in the coming days. And unfortunately, it’s not as easy as “buy a tree, place it at home, and forget about it.” You’ll need to know how to care for the season’s most festive decoration, as well.
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Whether you’re all about the real deal for Christmas or would rather set up an artificial tree in your living area, I’ve got 14 Christmas tree care tips you’ll need to keep your evergreen safe and healthy all December long — with minimal thought. After all, ‘tis the season to enjoy.
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Real Christmas Tree Care Tips
Tip #1: Wrap your tree in a plastic tarp for its journey home from the tree farm. You don’t want to damage branches in a car or truck if you can avoid it.
Tip #2: The first thing to do when you get home? Get the tree in a stand with water. Research shows that if the base of the tree doesn’t dry out, your needles will stay fresh for longer.
Tip #3: Buy a tree stand that fits the trunk of your tree. If you shave diameter from the sides, you risk losing the pieces of the base that take in the most water. Do, however, take a half-inch cut off the bottom of the tree when you get home to help water absorption.
Tip #4: Top off your tree’s water supply each day; the level should never go below the base of the tree, which might happen if your trunk doesn’t reach the bottom of the stand. Make sure your tree stand holds one quart of water per inch diameter of the tree’s stem. Most stands will hold around a gallon — and the tree will sop up H20 very quickly.
Tip #5: Although experts aren’t totally in agreement on how to extend the tree’s freshest days, you can try “feeding” your tree by adding a tablespoon of corn syrup or sugar to the water basin. Legend says this helps the tree’s longevity.
Tip #6: Place your tree somewhere away from major heat sources (sunlight, fireplace, heat vent, etc.). These will dry the tree out quicker, and it may not last the season.
Tip #7: Consider using mini lights or LED lights instead of larger traditional lights to decorate your tree. The bigger the lights, the faster the needles will dry out — and LED lights simply stay cooler. Make sure to turn the lights off when you exit a room or go to sleep for the night.
Tip #8: Run your fingers over a tree branch from time to time at season’s end. If it’s brittle, the branch breaks easily, or the needles fall off in your hand, it’s time to retire your tree. The National Christmas Tree Association has a list of ways to reuse your tree and programs that will recycle your tree.
Artificial Christmas Tree Care Tips
Tip #9: Choose a tree that you’ll love year after year. Pre-lit trees minimize the setup time and are generally the most hassle-free option. Flocked trees look as though they’re sprinkled in “snow” or glitter. Artificial trees generally last a decade, so investing in a nice one that suits your style and tastes can keep the Christmas tree process streamlined and simple each year.
Tip #10: Measure the space where you’ll likely put your Christmas tree each year. After, you can choose a height that suits the space, and a width — generally “full,” “slim,” or “pencil.”
Tip #11: Decide whether you want an artificial tree with hinged or hooked branches. While hinged branches are never removed, hooked branches latch into the tree piece by piece and require assembly. The hinged variety tends to be a bit pricier, so decide if it’s worth the investment.
Tip #12: When you light your tree, look at the electrical strands. If they look worn or damaged, replace them so they don’t inadvertently spark. Don’t overload electrical circuits by placing more strings of lights together than the manufacturer suggests.
Tip #13: When you finally store your tree, use a storage bag to keep dust and bugs away. Make sure the bag is strong enough to keep the tree safe for the majority of the year, when it’s not in use.
Find even more festive holiday decor, recipes, and tips below!