Now what do you do with it and how do you keep it from drying during the entire holiday season? And most of all, how do you secure it and keep it upright?
Don’t worry too much if the tree you or the kids chose is less than desirable – even with the skimpiest ‘Charlie Brown’ tree, a few decorations and garland will work wonders. When choosing a tree, keep height a main consideration, as well as girth if your space at home is limited.
You’ll need a little headspace for a tree topper and the stand will raise it slightly from the floor. With a standard 8′ ceiling, a 7′ tree is ideal but shorter will also look nice.
Keep the tree outdoors until you’re close to setting it up and once indoors, let it warm up for at least two hours, before you attempt to straighten branches that have become crushed during transport.
Carefully consider where to place the tree. Pick a spot that will not merge too far into main traffic areas and do not place it over a heat vent or close to an open fireplace or wood heatstove. A corner is often the best spot or in front of a large window.
A sturdy tree stand is crucial for keeping it upright and secure. I prefer those with a wider base and deeper collar. Start with making sure the bottom of the tree is straight and that may mean cutting off a small slice with a hand saw, if you do not have a circular saw. This task is best done outdoors, or place newspaper or plastic underneath the base of the tree to catch the mess.
Follow tree stand instructions for best results and make sure the tree trunk is snug into the bottom of the stand before securing tightly. Lift the tree upright and stand back and check to see how straight it is. This is a good time to turn the tree to the preferred display side and recheck to ensure the tree is straight or readjust in the stand. Also ensure that there’s a handy plug-in nearby to connect the tree lights.
If you have pets or young children, you may want to tie it with string into a corner or to the wall. The taller the tree, the more insecure it can become and some trees are difficult to install securely in a tree stand alone.
As soon as the tree is secure in the stand, give it a cup of water (more if there’s room in the stand reservoir). Water is sufficient, you don’t need sugar or other additives, but you do need to water it every single day and more often if you have a very dry living area. Keeping water in the stand is the secret to keeping the tree from drying out and shedding needles, before the holidays are over.
For safety reasons, always use UL certified lights and extensions and use care to keep within the wattage guidelines recommended by the tree light manufacturer. Set up a lighting extension to make it easy to turn off the tree and other related decorations at night. To do this, place a green holiday light extension with an off/on switch, where it can easily plug into the wall outlet while keeping its power receptacles within easy reach of the tree, to plug in the final light strand.
If you’re new to tree decorating, this is generally the order that works best. And note that to remove decorations after the holidays, do it in reverse to protect your breakable tree balls and ornaments.
Decorating a Holiday Tree:
- Tree topper such as an angel, star, ribbon. If it’s a lit ornament, place the light connector at the back, but within easy reach.
- Lights – Plug them in first to check that lights are working. Then connect the first light strand to your topper and work downward on the tree. You’ll need several strands of lights for an average 6′ tree. Shorter strands are easier to apply than long ones and simply connect them as you go. Using same brand lights is usually the easiest. For best energy savings, use LED Energy Saving Bulbs – you’ll save at least 80% over traditional holiday lights.
- Once lights are on, connect to power and adjust till you’re satisfied before moving on to the next step.
- Garland and/or trims are next; start at the top and work down, swagging from branch tips as you go.
- Balls and other small decorations are next. Place smaller balls on the upper half; larger on the lower end and if there are young children or pets in the household, you may want to place the most fragile ornaments in the upper area and use unbreakable tree ornaments on the very bottom branches.
- Ribbon or tinsel should be last.
- Apply tree skirt to cover the stand, but leave a small area where you can easily add water to the tree.
Stand back and have a look at your tree. This will signal any overly bare areas in need of a decoration. But avoid fussing and rearranging decorations – this can be endless if you let it.
After a week, you may need to tidy ornaments a little if you’ve got a lot of admirers and remember to water it every day. A live tree should last several days before needles start to shed.
When it’s time for the tree to come down – that varies with everyone – take decorations off in reverse order and store properly till next year. Discard a live tree according to your local town guidelines. A good way to recycle holiday trees is to turn them into wood chips and return these to the garden or field.
A live tree is not practical or the best choice for everyone. The alternative is an artificial holiday tree and there’s lots of styles, sizes including some with or without lights.
Check prices of artificial trees