Finding the perfect Christmas tree and making it last until Santa comes is a huge task. Here is your Christmas tree buying and care guide — everything you need to know to get the best tree for the best price!
Thinking about an artificial tree this season? Check out the KCL Christmas Tree Deals page.
1. Know the different types of live Christmas trees.
When looking for a tree, Christmas tree experts consider the following six types to have the best shape, branches, color and superior needle retention:
- Balsam fir – If you’re looking to fill your home with Christmas-tree scent, this one’s for you. Grown in the northeastern states.
- Fraser fir – Like balsam firs, the Fraser firs have upturned branches. They also retain their needles longer than other trees. Grown in the southern states.
- Noble fir – With strong limbs, expect this tree to hold heavy ornaments and have silvery-green needles. Grown in the Pacific Northwest.
- Douglas fir – One of the lighter Christmas tree varieties, this guy will be easy to transport home. Grown in the Pacific Northwest.
- Scotch Pine – Bushy, dense foliage characterizes this pine, which has a bright-green to bluish color. Grown in the eastern states.
- Turkish Pine – Strong limbs, looks just like a Noble fir with two-tone needles that are dark green on top, silvery underneath. Fairly new species grown in Oregon.
2. Buy a locally grown Christmas tree at a tree farm.
Minimize your mileage and the impact of transporting a tree a long way from home. Going local also guarantees a more freshly cut tree where the needles will last longer.
Go to PickYourOwnChristmasTree.org to find a farm or lot near you.
3. Wait for Black Friday real Christmas tree deals and save 25%.
Big-box stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart have been known to sell fresh-cut Christmas trees for as much as 25% off on Black Friday. Ask them about special discounts, like military, student or senior for another 10-15% off.
4. Or purchase an artificial Christmas tree around Black Friday.
Around Black Friday 2019, you can get 6-foot Christmas trees with lights as low $50, or 7-foot unlit trees for $50 at Target.
5. Pick up a potted tree.
If you like a tree that never dies but don’t want a fake one, make sure to get a tree suited for the climate and conditions of where you live by contacting your local garden center. If you buy a small enough potted tree, you can reuse it for another one to two years before replanting it in a larger pot to use several more years.
6. Cut down your own tree in a national forest.
The U.S. Forest Service lets you cut your own tree for free, but you must have a permit, which typically costs about $10.
7. Buy your tree a week before Christmas.
If you can wait it out, you can typically save 50-75% on fresh Christmas trees near the end of the season. Look for slightly damaged trees or ask a retailer if they’ll give you a discount on a tree that’s been outside for a while. Try to find one with a minor flaw you can hide in a corner, or you might end up with a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.
8. Or, buy your tree at Costco.
Some Costco stores sell 7- to 8-foot trees for as low as $32! And, they’re great quality. Check your local store for fresh-cut trees.
9. Buy your fresh tree online at HomeDepot.com for $55 and free delivery.
Don’t have a car? HomeDepot.com is selling fresh Oregon-grown trees online with free delivery! Prices start at $55 for a 3- to 4-foot Grand Fir tree and go up to $115 for a 6- to 6.5-foot tree. They even sell Turkish Fir trees (like the one above), which have silvery needles underneath and very strong branches but are hard to find.
10. Check the branches before buying.
Start by doing a freshness test by gently grabbing a branch between your thumb and forefinger and pulling it toward you. If the tree is fresh, very few needles should come off in your hand.
11. Pick the right stand.
A tree stand serves three purposes: to help a tree stay hydrated, to hold the tree up, and to keep it straight. Your tree stand should have a heavy enough base to hold the tree’s center of gravity so it stays balanced, and an opening wide enough for the trunk’s diameter. In some ways it’s the lifeline of the tree. Make sure the stand can hold a gallon of water.
12. Have an attendant saw an inch off your tree’s trunk.
This gives you a fresher tree and helps with water absorption by taking off any sap that has begun to seal the bottom of the trunk. You can also re-cut the trunk yourself when you get home.
13. Cover the bottom of a newly cut tree with a damp cloth.
After you’ve wrapped the trunk in a damp cloth, wrap it again in plastic to keep it fresh until you can get it in some water at home.
14. Wrap your tree in netting or a blanket for the ride home.
Many times, trees are sold in netting, but if not, wrap your tree in a blanket to preserve the branches. The blanket will also keep the wind from drying the tree out.
15. Carry your tree into the house base first.
When you bring a tree inside top first, you risk the branches fanning out, catching on doorways and breaking off. Trunk first, the branches simply compress in their natural direction when passing through doorways, keeping the tree intact.
16. Submerge the tree trunk in water as soon as you get home.
If you can’t do this and the cut tree has gone six to eight hours without water, it’s best to make another cut an inch or so off the end. Otherwise, sap can start to seal the original cut, preventing the tree from taking up water and drying out sooner than it should.
17. Place your tree in the best location.
Heat sources, open windows and direct sunlight all contribute to drying out your tree, and it can happen fast. Keep your tree in a comfortable and moderate indoor climate to help it thrive throughout the season.
18. Use regular tap water to keep your tree hydrated.
Despite a variety of tips out there about soaking a tree trunk in bleach, warm water, crushed-aspirin solution or a hot water and sugar mixture, experts say plain water is the way to go. According to the National Christmas Tree association, research shows plain tap water is best.
TIP: Check the water level every day and make sure it’s covering the cut end of the tree at all times.
19. Decorate your tree with LED lights to keep the needles fresh.
Ditch the colored incandescent bulbs. The bigger the lights, the quicker the needles dry out.
20. Use a PVC pipe and funnel to water your Christmas tree.
Keeping your tree watered is essential to its longevity and freshness. Create your own tree irrigation system with a PVC pipe and funnel.
21. Turn your Christmas tree into a New Year’s tree.
If your tree is still looking fresh after Christmas, turn it into a New Year’s tree! Hang balloons, streamers, toys or hand-written wishes for the new year.