If you have never owned a real Christmas Tree then getting your first one will be quite an accomplishment. There are different dealers that sell Trees and many of them come off of commercial farms. You might find that a large retail center allows or rents space for a tree dealer in the corner of their parking lot or maybe a super store gets a delivery of a few dozen every couple weeks before Christmas. Then there are the do it yourself farms where you can search for and cut down your own tree.
Before you jump in the car and head down the road in search of the perfect tree there are a few things you need to prepare for. You will need to buy some supplies and also prepare the room where it will be displayed.
Preparing your room for a Live Christmas Tree
The first and most important thing about having a live tree is that it is flammable. You do not want your tree anywhere near a fireplace or wood burning stove and it is best not to have it near any heating vents because they will dry the tree out. Once the tree is dry even if it is not near a fireplace you have a fire hazard and even if its not Christmas day yet you need to remove it from the house.
Placing the tree might require redesigning your living room furniture. You want it in a place of prominence where it can be enjoyed but you also want it out of the way so general foot traffic wont cause you to brush into it and knock off decorations.
Another consideration is animals. You don’t want a pet thinking they are outdoors and using them for the bathroom. This means you might want to place it in a room with a door so you can close it off at night. Its either that or place your pet in a room while you sleep. Yes this is a consideration and cats love to eat pine needles which will result in them vomiting so just be warned. No one tells you this.
Buying a Tree Stand and Skirt
Once you find a place for the tree you will want to buy a Tree Stand and skirt that will go around the base of the tree to catch falling needles.
You don’t want to spare money on a tree stand because if you buy something that is too light weight you might end up with a tipped over tree and a lot of sad eyes. You want a wide base and the mounting points should be strong heavy metal. More than likely they will provided lag bolts to hold the tree in position you will need to make sure you have the tools to fasten it to the bottom of the tree securely. It should also have ample water reserves. Trees need a lot of water and bringing it inside will cause the tree to need more than it would out in the cold.
A tree skirt is important to catch falling pine needles. They come in decorative designs however one made of a felt or open material will tend to hold on to the needles not allowing you to clean up as needed.
Buy something with cleaning in mind not just looks.
Tools you might need
You won’t need a workshop full of tools to get and install a tree but you will need some basic tools to get the job done a bit easier.
First thing is whether you are working on a tree you brought home from the supermarket or taking the family out to a tree farm you will want anyone working on the tree to have a pair of work gloves not just winter gloves and a pair of safety goggles. Yes i can hear you thinking I don’t need them especially the safety glasses.. but you do because as you are working on the tree you will have to position it while its open and then maybe climb down under the tree to secure the base. If a branch full of needles gets you in the eye its a trip to the emergency room.. and if you are out cutting down a tree with the kids the last thing you want is a branch hitting them in the eye and you running across a snowy field with them in your arms.. Boy I’m Taking all the fun out of this .. first the fire hazard now eye injury.. hey if you don’t plan and you don’t have a clue these things happen so 99cent safety glasses are worth it.
You might want some Rope or Heavy Twine to retie the tree once you are finished with it. If the place you buys it gives you some then save that for sure.
Plastic drop cloth is a good idea if you need to prepare your tree inside and also you can wrap it in it to get it out of the house after you are done but garbage men won’t like the plastic so take it off when you leave it at the trash pickup point.
A pruning saw will be needed to cut down your own tree but also to trim your tree when you get it home. Pruning sheers are a good idea to shape the branches. Scissors wont cut it.
Now you are ready to get your tree
You will probably see a number of places in your area selling trees and it is good to stop by a few of them. You should ask them how often they get deliveries of new trees because you don’t want a tree thats been sitting there for weeks or all the needles will fall off when you take it into your warm home. If they tell you we should get more in a few days then wait and come back for a fresh tree.
Check Prices because they will vary based on the size, quality and the type of tree. When selecting a tree based on price you want to remember that a full tree is best and once it is covered with decorations most of what you paid for will be hidden.
When selecting a precut tree a trick is to reach in about half height to the open tree and pound the base of the trunk on the ground and look for needles that come off. If a ton of needles come off its an old tree about to go poof so don’t buy it. However dealers know this so they often do the same thing when showing customers.
Unlike vegetables that wilt when they get old a pine tree will stiffen. Branches should be flexible and there should not be a lot of sap that has turned white around the base of the trunk.
Tree farms are great adventures for little kids but it can be cold so you want to prepare for the trip and not take anyone along who might get a little too cold when your out in the middle of nowhere.
We also talked about the problem with eye injury and heavy work gloves for anyone handling the saw. It is likely you will want the kids to give sawing a try.
The best thing when cutting a small tree is to find the south side of the tree where the branches will be thinnest. This way you have easy access to the trunk. You might need to prune off a branch or two near the bottom to allow for easy cutting and you want to do this on the side of the tree with the fewest branches so it will not show once your home with it and place that side to the wall of the room.
Before you cut the tree down you want to wrap the branches with twine or light rope. This will keep the branches out of your way and it will make life a lot easier since you won’t be trying to hold on to a lose tree while tying it up.
If you are not use to sawing trees then you should understand that your saw only works best in one direction. Normally that is in the push direction. So when pulling back you don’t want to apply pressure or you can even withdraw the blade if you are making your first few cuts. It will make the job a lot easier.
Once your tree is ready to take home you want to secure it to your vehicle with rope. I suggest you bring an old heavy blanket to place on the roof of your car or at least a sheet of cardboard. This will reduce damage to your paint. If you have your tree hanging out the back of your trunk you will need to place a red flag on the end of it or the cops will stop you. Hit the home store before you go and they should have a box of plastic red sheets used as flags for people transporting stuff home. Ask before you take one and maybe buy something.
Once you get the tree home you will want to attach it to its stand without water but before you do you want to cut a final inch off the bottom of the trunk so it is clean and freshly cut like a rose in a vase. That will let it suck up water for the next few weeks. Then stand it up and remove the twine to release the branches.
Take a good look at the tree and decide how you will position it.
You might want to do a final trimming and if you have a star or other ornament for the top you should prepare the top.
Install your lights but not the balls if they are glass before you place the tree in its final position.
Move the tree into place and put water in the base. You can also purchase a chemical or powder that is said to help the tree suck up water but the best thing is to cut that inch off the bottom before you stick it in the base.
Final decoration is something the kids can do. Lights are best for the parents. Remember to position the cord for the lights so they are easy to unplug. I suggest you invest $15 in a remote control power strip that you can keep the remote on your counter and not deal with plugs.
Well that is about it other than watering the tree every day and then cleaning it all up after the season is over.
Remember if the needles start falling off and it starts turning brown you have to remove it from the house even if its 3 days before Christmas or it can be a serious fire hazard.
On its own its not the best thing in the house. Pine Trees burn really well because they are full of turpenoids that are used to make turpentine.
Its like you just installed a Gasoline Tree in your Living room and wrapped it with glass balls and wires and electricity… HA! scrooge..
Hey.. remember this is about someone’s birthday and the gift they gave us.. remember to pass that story on to the kids because no gift under that tree is anywhere near as important as what God gave us.