"Faith is the strength by which
a shattered world shall emerge into the light."
— Helen Keller
[The tree in the title photo is our tree in our living room. Click to enlarge.]
Before you venture out to buy that "perfect tree" you'll need to decide
where it will fit in your home. See placement tips below, but once a spot is chosen be sure
to measure BOTH the ceiling height and the width of that space.
Also, measure your tree stand to determine the maximum diameter of the trunk. Finally, take
into account the height of your tree stand as well as the height of your treetop ornament.
Use these measurements to help find the perfect tree for your home.
Take a Tape Measure:
Take the tape measure with you when you shop so you don't buy a 6" diameter
tree trunk for your 4" diameter stand or a 9 foot tall tree if your ceilings are only eight feet.
Where to Place a Tree:
Avoid placing your tree near a heat source (sunny windows, radiators, heating
vents, and fireplaces). Try to keep the tree out of high traffic areas where it might be bumped or
overturned, or where someone might trip on light cords. Don't place it in any spot that might be
dangerous, such as next to a fire in the fireplace or up on a wobbly table.
Before Leaving Home:
Take heavy gloves to protect your hands, and a tape measure to help select
the right size tree. Find a blanket to protect your car from pine needles and sap. Take twine or
rope to tie it securely to the car (unless you know the tree lot will provide this). Locate a saw
so a fresh cut can be made before placing the tree in water. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water so
your tree can start drinking water as soon as it gets home and has a fresh cut. Find your tree
stand (or determine if you'll need a new one) and set it up. Confirm the maximum tree trunk diameter
that will fit into the stand.
Choose tree stands for stability and size. Look for models that hold large amounts
of water so you'll spend less time refilling the water chamber. Also, pay attention to the size of
tree trunk that each stand will accommodate. The taller your tree, the bigger diameter of the
trunk. Get a stand that is easily adjustable so the tree can be leveled.
Choosing a Tree:
Trees with shorter needles (such as Fraser or Noble Fir) are often easier to decorate
as they offer some space between branches for decorations as well as some stronger stems to hold heavier
ornaments. Learn more about the many types of Christmas trees and find out the characteristics and uses
of each type.
Space Between Branches:
Something else to consider when choosing a tree is that it is usually most
attractive when the ornaments hang straight. Many trees today are groomed to be lush and full yet be
aware that ornaments may hang at an angle on such trees. For ornaments to hang straight you'll want
a tree with some space between the branches. To test a tree, take an unbreakable ornament with you
and hang it on several branches to see if there is room for it to hang straight.
Select a Fresh Tree:
How can you tell? Needles should look shiny, green, and fresh — not dry or
brown. The needles should not fall off when you pull on a branch.
Transporting your Tree:
If possible lay the tree inside your car or trunk for the drive home. If
you have a long drive with the tree on the roof of your car, you may want to wrap it in a tarp or
old blanket and tie securely.
Making the Cut:
Once you are home make a new cut (of at least 1/2") so the tree will begin to soak
up water immediately.
The Right Height:
Also, depending on your ceiling height, measure and cut more off the bottom of
your tree if necessary.
Stand the tree in a bucket of warm water in the corner of your garage, sheltered patio, or basement
until you are ready to move it inside the house.
If your carpeting is thick or uneven you may wish to put down a circle or square of
plywood so the tree stand sits on a flat place.
Set plastic or a waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will stand.
Install the Stand:
Many people prefer to install the tree stand outside where needle drop won't
matter. To do this, tip the tree down on its side and tighten the clamps of the stand around the
base of the trunk. Lift the tree to a standing position, being careful not to damage the feet of
the tree stand. Now, make any needed adjustments in vertical alignment so the tree stands straight.
Finally, carry your tree (with the stand attached) inside and fill the water reservoir with water
Optional: Secure Stand to Board — If you have a very large tree, or are worried about it tipping
over, some tree stands can be attached with heavy screws to a large flat piece of plywood which
will give it some additional stability. Do this in place, before bringing the tree inside and
putting it into the stand.
The Top — Sometimes small adjustments may be needed on the top of your tree, depending on your
ceiling height and the type of ornament (angel, star, etc.) that will be placed on the top. Clip
away any stray branches that may be in the way, but avoid chopping off the tallest vertical
branch if you can. Use clippings to decorate your mantle or to make a centerpiece.
Trim it Up — Don't be afraid to trim down any imperfect branches or boughs that hit adjacent
furniture or walls. Try to trim at an angle that is about parallel to the floor, so cuts are
less noticeable. Use these boughs to decorate your mantle or table, keeping them in water
until you arrange them.
Water, water, water:
Always keep your fresh tree in a stand that holds water. Check the
water level daily . For the first few days you may need to refill the water every few
hours. (Set a timer to remind you to check it.) After about a week the water intake will
slow down and daily refills should be fine.
Water, or more? — Plain water is all you are likely to need to keep your tree fresh. However,
if you wish, there are some additives and sprays you can purchase that promise to keep trees
fresh longer. Ask about them where you buy your tree, or at a local garden center. You can
also keep a Christmas tree fresh longer by applying a before bringing it indoors.
How to water — The best way is also the hardest way. Take towels, a water jug, and some patience.
Get in close to the tree stand. If you can't see the water level then place one finger into the
water reservoir and begin to add water slowly. (A watering can with a long spout is helpful.)
Stop adding water when you feel the level nearing the top of the stand. Wait a few moments to
make sure no water leaks onto the floor.
If you are concerned about kids or pets knocking the tree over, be sure to secure
it in several places up the trunk with fishline, twine, or cording attached to small eyehooks
in the walls at various locations. (Make certain however, that the lines are well out of
reach and won't pose any danger to children or animals.)
Order of Placing Decorations:
Inside, Outside — Arrange lights 'inside' your tree (about halfway from the tips of the branches
to the trunk of the tree) as well as on the perimeter of the tree.
Taking Trees Down:
How Many Special Ornaments? — Mix one of a kind special ornaments with more generic "filler"
ornaments. To make an impact, plan on using about 10 special themed ornaments (10 birdhouses,
music notes, etc.) for every 2 feet of tree.
How Many Filler Ornaments? — Create repetition by using a consistent filler ornament on your tree.
This is a good way to stretch a growing collection of themed ornaments too. Plan to use at least a
dozen "filler" ornaments for every 2 feet of tree. These can be inexpensive glass balls readily
available at discount stores.
Where to Put Ornaments — Place ornaments and other decorations 'inside' your tree as well as on
the tips of branches, to add depth and interest.
The best way to avoid a major mess is to prepare to take your tree down before you even put it up.
Just place a plastic tree bag (available at hardware stores) underneath the stand, which you can hide
with a tree skirt. Then, when the holidays are done, pull the bag up around the tree, stand and all,
and carry it outside. Remove the stand before recycling the tree. If some needles do scatter inside,
sweep them up; needles can clog vacuum cleaners.
Call your local recycling department to get information on recycling trees for mulch.
Don't Burn It:
Many experts recomended that you do not burn your Christmas tree branches due
to fire dangers, so dispose of your tree according to local regulations via trash collection,
chipping for mulch, or recycling.
The Smart Way to Store Ornaments:
Whether they're heirlooms passed down to you or homemade treasures your kindergartner crafted, ornaments
need to be stored with care to maintain their pristine condition for next Christmas.
Copyright © December 2005 Lora Ruffner and Low Carb Luxury
1. Choose the correct container: The experts at Silvestri, a top manufacturer of holiday decorations,
recommend storing ornaments in sturdy, partitioned cardboard boxes. You can buy these, but sectioned
boxes, which you can get free from liquor stores, work just as well. Forgo plastic containers; they
don't allow air flow, so moisture can become trapped and damage the ornaments.
2. Wrap them right: Protect your ornaments before boxing them by wrapping them individually in
acid-free tissue paper or 100 percent cotton cloth. Don't overstuff the compartments or you'll
risk crushing the contents.
3. Find the ideal spot: Ornaments should be kept in a cool, dry place. Skip the attic (extreme
temperatures can cause paint to flake) and the basement (dampness and mildew can cause irreparable
damage). The best choice is an upper shelf in a closet where they can remain undisturbed until next
Title photo Copyright © 2005 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury