If you display a Christmas tree in your home, you probably have a strong opinion on whether you prefer a live tree or an artificial tree.  We have an artificial one because growing up, my family always had an artificial tree, and, the one time I had a live tree, I didn’t care for it well. Ooops.

Maybe I should have had a tutorial like this one handy:

Set up:

After untying the tree, let the branches fall back into shape.  You can trim uneven branches with heavy scissors before you add lights.  Rule of thumb for a super-sparkly tree is 100 bulbs per foot of height (ie. 7ft tree will need 700 bulbs).

Proper Placement:

To help the tree last all season, place it away from the fireplace, heating vents, and windows that get a lot of sun.  If you keep it watered it should last about a month.  Adding aspirin, bleach, soda or anything else to the water  to prolong its life is a myth – don’t bother.

Water often:

To stay fresh, trees need water.  A newly cut tree will soak up more than a gallon of water in the first 48 hours.  A tree from a lot might not soak up as much until you’ve had it a few days but with both types of trees, make sure the bottom few inches of the stump are submerged at all times.

Balance the weight:

Before you start decorating the tree with ornaments, make sure the tree branches can support their weight.  Blue Spruces, Fraser Firs and Noble Firs have stiff branches and hold up better than the fluffy branches on Douglas Firs and Grand firs.  You’ll have to compromise though – Grand firs have the strongest Christmas tree scent so if you love the smell, you’ll just need to decorate with lighter ornaments.
**For more info on popular choices for Christmas Trees, see The 5 Types of Christmas Trees here.

Keep an eye on your pets:

The stagnate tree water holds bacteria that can upset your pet’s stomach.  Don’t let your dog or cat use the stand as a water bowl.  You can purchase a stand with an enclosed water reservoir or block the stand with wrapped gifts.

The branches are a great addition to your compost pile:

Christmas trees make great mulch.  After they are run through a chipper, recycled trees’ mulch are great for your yard.  If you don’t want to break off a few branches for your compost pile, many areas hold events where the trees can be recycled.  Find out if there’s one in your area here.

Do you prefer a live tree rather than an artificial tree?  What are your tried and true tips and tricks?