My fiancée loves Christmas. The Sunday after Thanksgiving I’m assigned to bring the decorations out of storage, grab a pair of work gloves and clear my Sunday afternoon for tree shopping. The love of Christmas runs in her blood, her family owned a garden center where her father was a bang up tree salesman.
Needless to say there are no fake trees in our home. As a guy who likes things clean I always cringed at bringing in a big sappy, needle shedding tree into our small city condo. Over the years while my Grinch-like heart hasn’t grown three-times its size… it is getting there. I’ve learned some tips and tricks for picking out your tree, caring for it and keeping the presents and everything else under it nice and tidy.
Tips for Finding Your Christmas Tree
To find the perfect tree you need options. When you’re out in lot don’t be afraid to bring your own pair of gloves and go digging yourself.
Always unwrap a tree before you buy it. With a few vigorous taps on the ground branches will fall a little giving you an overall feeling of the shape of the tree and show you potential holes.
Taping out will also give you an idea of the health of the tree. If mounds of needles fall or you see brown needles closer to the trunk of the tree, the tree is already dried out.
Dried trees are not only messy but pose potential danger during the holiday season, it is best to put it back in the stack.
The backbone of the tree is as important as freshness and fullness. Having a straight trunk will save you time and frustration during instillation of the tree stand. When looking at the bottom of the tree know it is easy to shave a few inches off to get the centerline of the tree straight an arrow.
Now, you need options. Never commitment to the first tree you see but you also don’t want to lose one you like to a tree vulture. We bury options that make the cut with other trees while we browse. Just make sure you remember where you squirreled them away.
Bringing Your Tree Home
Once you have picked out the perfect, healthy, straight, amazing, best Christmas tree ever (and hopefully remembered where it was stashed) make sure to purchase a Christmas tree bag for disposal later on.
I find it the easiest to ask an employee to finish any required cutting at the lot. Always get at least an inch or two cut off before installation so the tree can absorb water once it’s in the stand.
Gentleman, swallow your pride and splurge for an employee to tie the tree to your roof, trust this ex-Boy Scout who may have almost lost a tree once on the way home.
Before you leave the house rigorously map out the most direct route from your door to the desired tree landing zone. Move all furniture, shoes and clutter out of the way because the less things the tree rubs against, the less needles you need to pick up.
Send someone ahead to place the tree bag down before anything else is in place. Tree bags are amazing after the holidays are finished. It is worth the few extra bucks at the lot for a glorified XXXL trash bag.
First thing you need to do is get out an electric kettle or boil some water. Hot water will break up the dried sap inside your tree. Use hot water the first two or three times you water your tree.
The first few days your tree may drink a lot. Don’t gather the family and hold a meeting, just make sure to keep filling the stand. After a few days you should be watering the tree once every day or so.
You want to keep your beautiful green friend not too warm or dry. Try to keep your tree away from any heating vents, radiators or space heaters.
As for the tree food people try to peddle? Skip it. Pumping your tree with anything but water won’t have a drastic effect on longevity or health.
What to do With All These Pine Needles?
There will be needles, face it, you’ve brought a dead tree into your house. When keeping the area clean around the tree always SWEEP UP THE NEEDLES FIRST, NEVER VACUUM THEM. That may sound super weird that a vacuum guy is telling you not to vacuum but needles and vacuums are sworn enemies.
Needles have a tendency to get stuck sideways in the tight areas of your vacuum. They criss-cross and start to trap regular dust and debris that normally floors easily through your machine. Needles can cause partial clogs that won’t manifest themselves until later. We’ve cleared machines of pine needles as late as April!
Once most the needles are swept up it’s ok to use your vacuum, if a few a sucked up it shouldn’t cause an issue.
If you’re reading this and after you’ve totally used your vacuum to suck up mounds of pine needles, don’t fret. Check out this video if you have a canister, click on this video if you have a Dyson or this video if you have an upright on tips on how to unclog your vacuum at home.
Onto the New Year
Don’t wait too long to pack the decorations up. Trees will just keep getting drier and drier while shedding more needles. Always remember gloves and a grubby sweatshirt when bringing your tree out of the stand. Needles have had a few weeks to get extra pointy and sap will be everywhere.
Use your tree bag for easy disposal and of course SWEEP up the left behind needles.
Make sure to know your communities tree pick up rules and schedule, no one wants to be that neighbor with a tree carcass out on their lawn for more than a few days.