Success with a live Christmas tree requires some advance planning and cooperative weather. If you live in an extremely cold part of the country, your chances of success are diminished. Dig a planting hole for the tree before the ground freezes. Store the soil in a garage or shed where it won't freeze, or cover it with a thick layer of mulch or leaves to reduce the chance of freezing. You might also want to fill the hole with mulch or leaves to keep the surrounding soil from freezing.
Choose a healthy tree from a nursery or garden center. Keep the tree outside until just a few days before the holidays. Water to keep the root ball moist, and use mulch to protect the root ball from freezing. Move the tree to the garage or a covered porch a few days before bringing it indoors. When you move the tree inside, keep it as cool as possible to prevent it from beginning growth. Leave it indoors for no more than a few days. Be sure the root ball stays moist but not waterlogged. Plant the tree as soon as possible after the holidays. Follow good planting procedures: Water it in thoroughly and mulch heavily.