Are you buying a real Christmas tree this year? This guide is full of tips and advice to help you choose the best real Christmas tree for your home.
It’s hard to beat the impact of a real Christmas tree laden with all your treasured family Christmas decorations – even if those decorations are all in one small area thanks to the kids’ creative efforts!
If you’re choosing a real Christmas tree, it can be quite a confusing process. Knowing which variety of tree to go for, what to avoid, and how to take care of your tree when you get it home can all be a bit challenging – especially when you’re faced with a big selection of real Christmas trees to choose from. And of course, a real tree isn’t a cheap option, so naturally we all want to pick the best one.
How to choose the best real Christmas tree
This guide to choosing the best real Christmas trees has everything you need to make the perfect choice. It covers how to choose a good tree, plus a guide to the most popular varieties of tree. I’ve also included tips on caring for a real Christmas tree, so you get the best display from it once you get it home.
Before you head out to buy a real Christmas tree
There are a couple of things you need to do before you buy your real Christmas tree. Make sure you don’t skip this part, it’s really important!
First of all, you need to make sure you have a suitable tree stand which is the right size for your tree.
We’ve had a few different types of real Christmas tree stands over the years, but the one that has been absolutely brilliant for us is the *Krinner tree stand. It’s sturdy, it’s really easy to operate, and in my experience the tree stays rock solid. There’s also a generous water reservoir in the base to keep your tree happy.
The second thing you need to do before you buy a Christmas tree is to get the tape measure out.
Measure the space where your tree will go, covering height, width and depth. Make sure you add the height of your tree stand to the height measurement.
Taking a couple of minutes to note down measurements will help you choose the best real Christmas tree, and avoid the need to chop the top off or cut back the biggest branches when you get home. We’ve had to do this in the past, and it’s so annoying!
Buying a real Christmas tree: what to look for
When you’re selecting a tree, pay attention to these areas.
The main aim here is to pick a tree that has been cut down as recently as possible. It’s the same principle as cut flowers; the fresher the tree, the longer it will look good for.
To help you work out if a tree is relatively fresh, look at the needles. They should be flexible and shiny, with no brown, brittle or withered ones. You can also give the branches a shake; if lots of needles fall off, the tree isn’t fresh.
Another tell-tale sign of a fresh tree is a rich colour, and a good scent.
Once you’re happy that the trees you’re choosing from are nice and fresh, it’s time to find the perfect Christmas tree for your home. This is where those measurements come in very handy.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a tree to be unwrapped – it’s impossible to measure it properly otherwise.
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the shape and distribution of the branches. Are they strong enough to support lights and decorations? Are they fairly evenly spaced? You can trim them if you need to, but ideally you want a tree that doesn’t require much pruning to make it fit the space you have.
Finally, check the base of the trunk. A solid base that is nice and upright will be much easier to secure in your tree stand than one which is on an angle or that has lots of knobbly bits.
The best real Christmas tree varieties
There are lots of different real Christmas tree types to choose from, some pricier than others. Here’s a quick Christmas tree guide to the most popular varieties.
Nordmann Fir – a very popular choice, Nordmann Firs have soft, rich green needles and strong branches, making them easy to decorate. They also hold their needles well.
Blue Spruce – as the name suggests, the foliage has a blue-grey tint which gives it a more unique impact when decorated. The branches are strong and needle retention is good. Blue Spruces also have a lovely rich scent.
Fraser Fir – with dense foliage and strong branches, Fraser Firs tends to be less wide, so they’re ideal for smaller spaces. You may see this variety sold with cones still attached.
Noble Fir – this is a neat, compact option with soft blue-green needles and a lovely scent.
Norway Spruce – a traditional triangle shape with strong branches make Norway Spruces easy to decorate, but their needles can be quite sharp and are more likely to drop than other varieties.
Scots Pine – if it’s pine scent you’re after, this is the one to go for. Scots Pines have strong branches and excellent needle retention too.
What type of Christmas tree is most popular?
Historically, the most popular variety of real Christmas tree was the Norway Spruce. Nowadays, the Nordmann Fir has become the tree of choice, mainly due to the fact that the needle retention is better than the Norway Spruce.
What Christmas tree has sharp needles?
If you’re keen to avoid sharp needles on your tree, avoid the Norway Spruce. The needles on Blue Spruce trees can also be a bit sharp. A good option is a Fraser Fir, these have soft needles and are better suited to homes with pets or small children.
Which Christmas tree is best for not dropping needles?
All real Christmas trees will drop some of their needles, but some varieties lose less than others. Fraser Fir, Nordmann Fir, Blue Spruce and Scots Pine are the best varieties when it comes to needle retention.
How long does a real Christmas tree last?
Depending on the variety of real Christmas tree you go for, you can expect it to last up to five weeks indoors.
What type of real Christmas tree lasts the longest?
Naturally, you want your real Christmas tree to look good the whole time it’s in your home. If you like to put the Christmas decorations up quite early, it’s worth going for a variety of tree that’s known to be longer-lasting.
Fraser Fir, Blue Spruce, Scots Pine and Nordmann Fir trees should look good for at least four weeks. It’s no coincidence that these are the varieties that hold their needles well!
Do bear in mind that the length of time your tree looks good will be influenced by it’s position in your home. If it’s in a very warm room or close to a heat source, it may start to deteriorate quicker than it would in a cooler spot.
How do you maintain a real Christmas tree?
Once you’ve chosen your perfect Christmas tree and brought it home, there are a few things you can do to make sure it looks its best throughout the Christmas season.
How much should I cut off the bottom of my Christmas tree?
If you can, saw about an inch off the base of the trunk. This makes a fresh cut to the wood, which will improve water absorption and help to keep the tree looking fresh.
Should a Christmas tree touch the bottom of the stand?
Your tree will need access to water in order to stay healthy, so it’s a good idea to make sure it touches the bottom of its stand. Make sure you use a *tree stand that holds water, this makes such a difference to how long your tree will retain needles and look good.
Can you cut branches off a Christmas tree?
You can use *secateurs to trim the branches of your tree. Only do this if you need to balance out the shape, or make it fit the space well. Hopefully if you’ve done your measuring before you bought it, the pruning will be minimal.
It’s a nice idea to use any tree trimmings to make a natural garland for a mantelpiece or staircase – you can add in things like pine cones and berries from the garden to create a lovely rustic decoration. This video shows you how to do it:
You can also use tree trimmings to make a festive wreath.
Should I spray my Christmas tree with hairspray?
Spraying your tree with hairspray is a hack that you should definitely avoid. While doing it will help to stop the needles losing moisture and keep them on the tree for longer, using hairspray on a real Christmas tree is a fire hazard.
The best position for a real Christmas tree
You probably don’t have many options for where to put your Christmas tree. However, if you do have some choice, try to avoid putting it next to a radiator or other heat source. This will help to stop it drying out and prevent needle drop.
Do you have to let a real tree sit before decorating?
Once you’ve secured your tree in its stand and moved it into position, it’s a good idea to wait at least a couple of hours before you decorate it. Doing this will allow the branches to settle back into their natural position. If you decorate it straight away, be prepared for your carefully positioned decorations to move around a little!
Real Christmas tree care guide
If you’re wondering how to keep a real Christmas tree alive, it’s actually quite straightforward.
Real Christmas trees are pretty low-maintenance once you have them installed and decorated, but you absolutely must water them regularly to keep them looking good.
Should you water your Christmas tree every day?
How often you need to water your tree depends on the temperature in the room.
Real Christmas trees need around 1-2 litres of water a day, which is quite a lot – so make sure you keep an eye on the water in the base. Check it daily, and top it up as soon as it gets low.
Should I give my Christmas tree sugar water?
You may have read that it’s a good idea to water your tree with sugar water. The idea is that the sugar solution feeds the tree and helps it to live longer. However, experts are now recommending that the best thing to water your tree with is good old plain tap water.
Do You Use warm or cold water for a Christmas tree?
This is another frequently debated question when it comes to watering real Christmas trees. It was once believed that the tree could absorb warm water more quickly than cold water, but studies have shown that the uptake isn’t affected by the temperature of the water. The most important thing is to water regularly.
Why can’t I smell my Christmas tree?
Some varieties of real Christmas tree have a stronger scent than others, so if your tree isn’t very fragrant this could be the cause. Blue Spruce, Noble Fir and Scots Pine are all good when it comes to scent.
Keeping your tree well-watered and positioning it away from heat sources will also help to get the best scent.
How do I stop my Christmas tree from dropping needles?
It’s all about the watering and the position again!
Keeping your tree hydrated will help it to hang onto those needles. Warmer temperatures will speed up dehydration, so it’s particularly important to water a real tree regularly if your house is toasty.
Tell me your tips on how to choose the best real Christmas tree!
Hopefully these tips will help you choose a wonderful real tree for the centrepiece of your Christmas decorations. Have you got a tip for choosing the best real Christmas tree that you’d like to share?
More Christmas inspiration
And if you’d like to keep the kids busy, you need my free printable Christmas nature scavenger hunt!
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