5 Tips for Making Your Christmas Tree Last
This year was a doozy. So putting up your Christmas tree a little early this year? No one would blame you. (In fact, I’m probably doing it myself.)
There’s only one problem: The earlier you put that tree up, the earlier it will die — and that could mean a brown, dried-up tenenbaum come Christmas morning.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to prevent this, or at least extend your tree’s life a bit.
Put up your tree early and ensure it sticks around through the holidays: These 5 pro tips can help you do it
1. Choose your tree carefully.
The best thing you can do is to choose a healthy tree from the start. If there’s a Christmas tree farm in your area, head there instead of your local garden store. Cutting down your own — or having it cut directly for you — is the best way to ensure you’re getting a fresh and healthy tree. Typically, pre-cut ones are cut down weeks prior and may have even traveled extensively across state lines (this means they’re already well into their short lifespan by the time it gets to your house).
If you do have to buy a pre-cut tree, choose one that’s displayed in a shady part of the lot and feel a few of the branches with your hand. The needles should be bendable, and they shouldn’t fall off or break when you touch them. You should also evaluate the tree by color. Deep, dark green indicates it’s fresh. If it’s lighter-colored, it’s on its way to drying out.
Finally, lift the tree up. It should be heavy, indicating it’s been well watered and has retained a lot of moisture. A light tree is likely lacking moisture and will dry out sooner than heavier options.
2. Trim the trunk.
If you buy a tree at a store (or any sort of pre-cut one), you’ll need to trim at least an inch of the trunk off the bottom. This removes any sap that could be built up there and make it easier for your tree to absorb water once placed in your home.
You can usually ask the farm or store you bought the tree at to do the cutting, but if this isn’t an option, a chain saw will work. Just be sure to cut at least an inch off, straight across (not at an angle, or you won’t be able to stand the tree up).
3. Water it right.
As soon as you get the tree home, fill your tree stand with water, and place the trunk inside. It should be submerged in at least two inches of water. For the first few days, your tree will likely soak up a few quarts, so be sure to refill it often. After that, check it daily to be sure there’s at least two inches in there. Its water intake will slow down as it ages, but keep checking just to be safe.
4. Keep the room cool and moist.
Heat can try out your tree faster, so avoid placing it near heat sources, like your fireplace, an oven, a radiator, or something similar. If you can keep the heat off entirely (or even turn on the A/C) it can actually help extend the life of your tree some.
Another trick? Put a large humidifier in the room. This helps your tree stay moist and healthy, and it can even reduce how much water you need to feed it.
5. Use only LED lights.
Traditional Christmas light strands emit a lot of heat. Not only is this a fire hazard (especially as your tree gets older), but it can also dry the tree out faster and cut into its lifespan.
If you’re going to put lights on your tree, your best bet is LED strands. These put out a lot less heat, and they’ll help keep your tree healthier longer. You should also put them on a timer or be sure to turn them off after a few hours each night. This will reduce the tree’s exposure to the warmth they create (however minor it may be).
The bottom line about buying a Christmas tree early
If you’re putting your Christmas tree up early this year, you’re not alone. Just make sure you’re proactive about it, and take the proper steps to ensure it stays healthy through the season. That means buying the right tree (and the right lights), and being smart about where you place it in your house. Investing in a humidifier and turning off the heat can help, too. (If you’re worried about that holiday baking causing a problem, try these no-bake desserts instead).