Nothing kills the festive spirit faster than a sad, droopy Christmas tree. Follow our top tips for picking and caring for yours to ensure it stays just as lush and fresh as the day you bought it.
Picking a healthy tree
Being clever with your Christmas tree selection will give you the best shot of bringing home a lush, long-lasting tree. Here’s what to look out for when picking a cut tree:
The ideal tree looks healthy and green – avoid any that have a lot of brown needles. The needles should feel flexible and not dry or stiff.
Do the shake test: lift the tree slightly and let the trunk fall back into the ground. Do many needles fall off? If it just loses a few brown ones you’re all good, but if a lot of green needles come away it’s best to move on.
If the weather has been clear, try to pick a tree from a well-shaded spot instead of ones out in full sun, as they’re more likely to have dried out a bit.
How to keep a Christmas tree fresh
Keeping a tree alive starts the minute you buy it. Unless you donned your lumberjack jacket and cut the tree down yourself, chances are it’s been sitting somewhere for hours, days or even weeks. This means there’s a high chance the base of the trunk is blocked or clogged with dried resin, making water absorption tricky.
So before taking it home, make sure your seller trims the trunk. Cutting about 1/4 of an inch straight across the base of the trunk will help ensure your tree stays well hydrated.
And while there’s no denying the charming appeal of a freshly cut tree strapped to the top of a car, the reality is that wind during the journey home could dry it out and cause all sorts of damage. Therefore it’s important to bring something to cover and protect your tree from the elements on the trip home - a big piece of tarp or even an old sheet will do the trick.
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Finding the perfect place for your tree
It's important to keep your tree as far away from heat sources as possible. This doesn’t just mean fireplaces, but also things like radiators, very sunny windows and stoves as these can all cause a tree to dry out prematurely.
A handy hack to help keep your Christmas tree fresh is to run a humidifier in the room it’s in, to add a bit of moisture back into the air.
How to keep a Christmas tree alive longer: make sure it has enough water
We’ve all seen those limp, unfortunate-looking trees that wilt before their time and shed needles absolutely everywhere. To avoid this, it’s crucial that your tree stays well hydrated.
Pop it in a stand that holds at least a few litres of water, and top it up regularly – most stands don’t hold nearly enough water, especially if you have a large tree in a warm room.
Top tip: why not set a daily reminder on your phone to check your tree’s water levels?
How to protect your tree from pets, toddlers and other calamities
Having pets or babies doesn’t mean you have to skip the tree this year. Use common sense when it comes to safety and access, just like you would around windows, radiators, fireplaces and stairs. These top tips might help too:
If you can, leave the tree unadorned for a day or two to let your mog (or toddler!) get used to it and allow the novelty to wear off.
Wondering how to keep your cat out of the Christmas tree? Place some tin foil around the base – cats don’t like the texture, so they’ll be less likely to to try to climb it.
Keep pets and kids away from the Christmas tree water, as it could be toxic.
Another handy hack (that works for both pets and toddlers) is to add decorative bell ornaments at various (unreachable) points on your tree. This way, you’ll hear literal alarm bells whenever it’s touched and can hopefully sweep in before any damage is done.
Make sure to only use shatter-proof ornaments, especially on the lower branches.
Once the festivities are over, don’t forget to responsibly recycle that Christmas tree.