Caring for a Fresh-cut Christmas Tree

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – aside from all the pine needles scattered across the family room floor. All kidding aside, I love fresh-cut Christmas trees. Yes, artificial trees certainly have their advantages, but one of my favorite family traditions includes a visit to our local Christmas tree farm, where we scout and scour for the perfect holiday fir.

Fresh-cut trees can have their challenges though. It’s important to cut, display and maintain them in a proper manner to reduce fire hazards. Not to mention, these same simple techniques are the most effective way of maintaining a tree’s freshness and minimizing needle loss problems.

Here are a few important tips to help you care for a fresh-cut tree:

  1. If at all possible, purchase a locally grown tree. A freshly cut tree will last longer than one that’s been shipped across the country. Avoid trees with brown or dead branches.
  2. Prepare a space for your tree away from major sources of heat in your home. This includes vents, fireplaces and heaters.
  3. Once you’ve chosen a tree and brought it home, make a flat, clean cut to remove about ½ of an inch from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Use a tree stand that both fits your tree and has adequate water holding capacity. Carefully read the labels on any tree stand you purchase to ensure it will fit your perfect tree.
  4. Place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can only be without water for 6 to 8 hours. If you can’t get the tree into the stand with this timeframe, trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a bucket of water in a cool location.
  5. Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. Refill the tree with water as needed.
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  6. Once your tree is in place, choose miniature lights for decoration purposes. These tend to produce less heat and help to reduce drying out the tree. Always inspect your lights prior to placing them on the tree. If you see any frayed cords, discard the decorations, as they will be more prone to cause a fire.
  7. When leaving the house or when going to bed, turn off the lights on your Christmas tree. A timer is also a great idea to ensure the tree lights go out, should you forget to manually unplug them. And remember, do not overload electrical outlets.
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  8. Throughout the holiday season, monitor the tree for freshness. Needles will always fall from the tree, but the branches should remain green and healthy looking for several weeks, if the tree is receiving proper care. After Christmas or if the tree appears dry, remove it from the house.
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  9. To avoid an overabundance of pine needles throughout your home, take time every few days to sweep up. Use a handheld vacuum or a dustpan, as a larger vacuum can easily clog given the quantity of pine needles.
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  10. Finally, when the holiday season has come to a close, take the time to properly dispose of your tree. There are many recycling programs throughout the country. And remember to never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.

These ten simple tips will not only keep your family and home safe this holiday season, but they will also maintain a fun, festive and super clean atmosphere as well.