Of course, water is key, but there are a few more things you can do to help your Tannenbaum stay green.

By Jennifer Aldrich
Updated December 02, 2020
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It's hard to believe, but we're already into December. And if you're like the majority of Americans, 68%, to be exact, you've already put up your holiday decorations, and that includes your Christmas tree. Whether you opt for real or artificial, you can't go wrong with either one, but you will have more responsibility when choosing a freshly cut tree. However, fresh trees are pretty easy to take care of, plus, they have a gorgeous green color and wonderful aroma. So, how can you keep your evergreen looking its best through Christmas Day? Tim O'Connor, executive director at the National Christmas Tree Association, has a few tips that will make you a pro tree caretaker.

"You really need to think about a cut tree like a cut flower. It has a shelf life, and it needs proper care," O'Connor says. Once you select your fresh, green tree from the lot, make sure you take an inch off the trunk. You can do this yourself, or the place you're buying it from often offers this service. "Sap dries over the trunk, so cutting it will open up the veins," O'Connor explains. Once the trunk is freshly cut, get it into a stand filled water as soon as possible. Plain tap water is fine, and don't be tempted to add anything else like soda to the water because that will only encourage bacteria to grow.

Credit: David A Land

There are many different types of stands, but the best options give one quart of water per inch of stem diameter, according to the National Christmas Tree Association website. A solid choice would be the Tree Genie Stand (from $73, Amazon). It can be adjusted to fit the size of your tree's trunk, straightens the tree, and has a water gauge, so you know how much liquid is in the stand at all times. Now that your tree is hydrated, make sure you check on it every single day. The water level in the stand should not go below the base of the tree, so make sure to keep adding more when needed. For a less messy watering situation, use a funnel to pour the water into the stand. Ace Hardware sells a top-rated Christmas tree funnel for just $8 each.

Situate your tree away from fireplaces, heaters, and hot lights, all of which may dry it out faster (hello, needles all over the floor). That's why decorating with miniature LED lights, such as Vickerman Multi-Color String Lights ($23, Target), that don't produce much heat is a smart idea.

Though your tree can last for over a month when you take good care of it, all good things must come to an end. O'Connor says his family chooses their tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, keep it up until New Year's Day, and then recycle it promptly. A dried-out tree is a fire hazard, so it's best to get it out of the house sooner rather than later once the holidays are over.

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