group of christmas trees on a tree lot
Photo: Alexandra Bandon
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Measure Twice, Buy Once

Before you head out to the farm or tree lot, make sure you know just what size tree you can fit in your house. Measure the height of your ceiling, but remember to subtract the height of your stand and the tree topper you want to use to get the maximum tree height you can fit. Also clear the space where you'll put the tree and see how deep it is. Different species are different girths, so you want to be sure you won't be squishing the branches against the wall. And keep an eye on the size of your stand. You want to be sure the trunk of your tree will fit in it, and that it's big enough to keep your tree upright. If you're upgrading to a larger tree this year, you may need to invest in a bigger stand. Failure to measure accurately and you could have a tell-tail sign of the mistake: "If you go to someone's house and there is a big, brown streak across the ceiling," says Roger. "That's usually where they stood up a Christmas tree that was too tall."

Shop local
For the freshest and healthiest tree, you should patronize an established tree farm or a lot that brings in trees from local farms. The ones that the farms sell are grown specifically to retain their needles. Most Christmas trees are cut about 3 to 4 weeks before they arrive on the lot—usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to Clarke Gernon, chairman of the National Christmas Tree Association.
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