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Christmas Tree Tips

How to find a healthy evergreen, cart it home, get it into the stand, and decorate it—and your house—safely. Oh, and what to do with the tree after the holidays are over

<p>Kurgo's Trunk Cleat</p>

Kurgo's Trunk Cleat

Illustration by Jason Lee

Here are our tips on finding a tree, carting it home, and decorating it—and your house—safely.


With some tree farmers using chemical colorants and up to 40 different pesticides to give their harvest a healthy, radioactive glow, you may want to go organic this year. Order a chem-free tree through your local garden center or search for an organic farm in your area at And once all the decorations are stowed for next year, be sure to recycle that tree. Each year, 10 million evergreens end up in landfills, according to the Sierra Club. So as not to contribute to such an ugly statistic at such a joyous time, contact your city sanitation department; many will pick up the tree curbside and chip it to make mulch.


After you chop down that towering spruce, your tired arms will make you wish it could drive itself home. Not happening. But once you've wrestled said tree at least partially into the trunk, you can trim the time spent fiddling around in search of place to lash down the lid with the Trunk Cleat. The tie-down device is basically a metal license-plate frame with a handle on it. Paired with its adjustable cam strap, which has a loop on one side that lassos around the handle and a heavy-duty metal hook on the other that attaches to the bumper or towing eyebolt under your car, you won't worry about the trunk flying open on the drive home. Kurgo's Trunk Cleat costs $32. Visit kurgo/products/tc.html for dealers.

<p>Black and Decker's Handisaw cordless branch cutter</p>

Black and Decker's Handisaw cordless branch cutter

Illustration by Jason Lee


It's hard to believe, but sometimes a reciprocating saw is overkill—like when you need to lop off a few lower tree branches to shimmy the trunk into a stand. That's a good time to grab Black and Decker's new Handisaw, a mini one-handed recip saw. Like a supercharged carving knife, it also slices cleanly through 1-inch wood, drywall, PVC pipe, and copper tubing. The Handisaw is $42 at


When climbing a ladder to loop lights around the treetop or to drape twinklers from the fascia outside, TOH general contractor Tom Silva stows tools in a belt or nail apron. That way both hands are free to hold on to the ladder. Also, make sure all exterior lights are UL listed for outside use and attached to the house or gutters with all-weather plastic clips. Metal nails and staples can wear away at the PVC insulation surrounding the wires, creating both a shock and spark hazard. Velcro Christmas Light Clips are $3. Visit for dealers.