'Tis The Season: How To Shop For A Real Holiday Tree

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'Tis The Season: How To Shop For A Real Holiday Tree

While artificial trees are convenient and less messy, there's nothing quite like a real tree in the house during the holidays. Unfortunately, some people struggle to find a tree that suits them at a reasonable price. Others have never gotten a real tree and don't know what they should be looking for. In both cases, this holiday tree guide has you covered.

Types Of Trees

Getting your holiday tree is not as easy as choosing fake or real. Unlike artificial trees, real holiday trees come in hundreds of different varieties. Here are the top five most common types of trees to help you decide what works best for you:

  1. Fraser Fir: This tree has dark green needles that are relatively soft and rounded compared to some other trees. The main reason this tree’s high popularity is its excellent needle retention – you aren’t constantly vacuuming under the tree. The branches are also strong and can hold heavier ornaments well.
  2. Douglas Fir: The Douglas Fir has a great natural cone shape that many shoppers like. It also has needles that give off a sweet scent when crushed. The Douglas tree is one of the most common varieties in tree lots.
  3. Balsam Fir: The Balsam Fir has more of a pyramid shape and is very similar to the Fraser Fir. This tree is very fragrant and has short, flat needles. The color is a lovely dark green, as well.
  4. Blue Spruce: This type of tree is often used in landscaping but can also look great in the home. The needles can vary from dark green to powdery blue, and they are slightly sharper (which may keep your cat from climbing it). Some Colorado Blue Spruce trees are sold with a root ball intact so that it can be planted after the holidays.
  5. Scotch Pine: This is one of the most commonly planted commercial holiday trees in North America. The Scotch Pine has longer dark green needles that will stay on for about four weeks. This tree has perhaps the best aroma – the pine smell will last all the way through the holiday season.

When it comes to pricing, the average real tree cost about $36. However, that number can vary widely based on how big the tree is, whether you cut it down yourself and where you buy it. The type of tree will also vary widely in price based on its availability in the area. Compare pricing methods when you go – by the foot or a flat fee – or wait until closer to the holidays to buy when prices are slashed.

Tips For Choosing The Perfect Tree

Now that you’ve chosen the type of tree you want, it’s time to start shopping. Start by looking for signs of how fresh a tree is. Whether you’re cutting it yourself or buying from a lot, you want a tree with the fewest brown needles. Drop the tree on its stump from a few inches above the ground or run your hand over the branches. In either case, it’s a bad sign if more than a few needles fall off. You can also ask the seller when the trees have been cut for more insight.

Inspect the needles closely as well. A fresh tree’s needles are flexible rather than brittle. The needles should have a nice green color and scent. Tug gently on the branches to see if they feel like they can hold up ornaments well.

Finally, check the tree’s base. The stump should be relatively straight so that it will sit correctly in the stand. Make sure you’ve chosen the correct tree height as well (about a foot or so shorter than your ceiling), and have the tree cut down to size if necessary.

Getting Your Tree Home

At last, it’s time to get your tree home. Here are some tips for transporting your tree smoothly:

  • Have the sellers use a “shaker” machine to dislodge dead needles, debris and any insects from the tree.
  • Get the seller to cut off 6 inches of the stump to help it soak up water when you place it in the tree stand. If you can, do this at home instead.
  • Make sure the tree is wrapped in meshed netting by the seller.
  • Whenever moving the tree (including arranging it on your car roof), have it with the stump end facing forward to avoid branch damage.
  • Use bungee cords or rope to secure the tree to the roof of your car.
  • Get your tree in water as soon as possible and be sure to water it regularly.
  • Don’t place your tree near a TV, fireplace, radiator or air duct.

Regardless of the type of tree you buy, shopping for a holiday tree should be a fun and exciting experience the whole family can enjoy. With a little research and preparation beforehand, the entire process will go much more smoothly and ensure that you get a great-looking tree for the holidays.

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