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Tips for Taking Care of a Real Christmas Tree

4 min read

By Emily Lockhart

There’s no denying that buying a fake Christmas tree has its advantages. A fake tree won’t leak sap all over your carpet and can be easily wrapped up and stowed away once the holiday season passes.

However, there’s nothing quite like the aroma and sheer atmosphere created by having a real Christmas tree in the home. And it can be a painless experience, so long as you take a few key steps in taking care of your tree properly…

1. Pick the Right Tree

Take your time when choosing your real Christmas tree—don’t just rush in and grab the first tree you see. Each time you approach a prospective tree, grab a branch between your thumb and forefinger and carefully pull it. If only a few needles come off in your hand, then the tree is fresh.

The next step is to gently shake the tree after grabbing it around the stump. Again, only a few needles should come off the tree. If there’s an excessive amount of needles heading to the ground (and some of those needles are brown, rather than green) you may want to consider another tree.

2. Choose the Perfect Spot in your Home

It’s crucial that you place your real Christmas tree in the right spot in your home. Make sure to set aside some space in a sheltered, unheated area of the house. Take some measurements before actually bringing it into the house and make sure it will fit in the designated area.

If you need to make room or buy your tree a little early, keep it fresh by placing the stump in a bucket of water. The porch or the garage are good places to store a tree before bringing it inside.

3. Make the Cut

Before setting up and decorating your tree, be sure to make a straight cut across the base of the trunk, roughly half an inch up from where it was originally cut. Then, place the trunk in a stand that gives the tree access to approximately a gallon of water (or more, if possible).

Why do this? Because failing to cut off some of the tree’s trunk could prevent the tree from effectively absorbing water, causing it to dry out prematurely and become a legitimate safety and fire hazard.

Shutterstock: Richard A. McGuirk

4. Select a Proper Tree Stand

Don’t cheap out when choosing your tree stand. Pick a tree stand that will hold enough water to keep the tree hydrated throughout the holiday season. Failing to do so could dry your tree out, causing it to turn brown and become a serious fire hazard.

To determine the proper size of your tree stand, measure the diameter of your tree trunk in inches. If the diameter is 6-inches, you’ll need that many quarts of water in your tree stand at all times.

Shutterstock: Koldunov Alexey

5. Keep an Eye on the Cut

We get it; the holiday season is a super-busy time. For that reason, you might not notice if the tree absorbs so much water that it’s no longer immersed. This can cause a seal of dried sap to form. This will happen roughly 4- to 6-hours after the water plummets below the base of the tree.

If that happens, don’t panic. Just make a new cut roughly half an inch above the seal. Also keep a close eye on the tree and the water levels.

Shutterstock: Georgy Dzyura

6. Avoid Heat Source

There’s no tip more important than this: keep your real Christmas tree away from all heat sources. That means fireplaces, candles, radiators, portable heaters, baseboard heaters, heating vents, and even appliances and electronics, like televisions and stoves.

To keep you and your family safe, find a quiet corner for your real Christmas tree and also be sure to educate your children about fire safety.

Shutterstock: Alena Ozerova

7. Dispose of your Tree Safely

Most areas have a comprehensive recycling program in place for disposing of your real Christmas tree after the holiday season wraps up. Check your community’s garbage disposal website to see how you can safely dispose of your tree.

Above all, avoid dumping the tree in the backyard and leaving it there. There are few more potent fire hazards than a dried-up Christmas tree, which can ignite easily and help set fire to your home.

Shutterstock: Sergey Novikov

Emily Lockhart


Emily Lockhart is a weight loss expert who specializes in healthy living. She is dedicated to providing health-conscious individuals with the information they need to make great lifestyle choices that will make them look and feel better. In her spare time, Emily teaches Pilates at a local studio and enjoys activities like hiking, rowing and biking.

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