The sad, pathetic and wilting tree calls my name because otherwise it won't have a home for Christmas.
Then I have to stop. Pause. Think. Be rational. The tree is not a pet. It does not have feelings. I'm not doing myself any favors by hauling home the worst one on the lot.
Besides, live Christmas trees start at $50. The nicer ones are over $100 now. In many cases you pay by the foot so I might as well get the best tree for my dollars.
But what do you look for when selecting the perfect Christmas tree?
These are my top tips so that your live Christmas tree doesn't sap your holiday cheer or curdle your eggnog.
It's easier if you choose a tree that is about a foot shorter than the ceiling. This way, the tree won't hit the ceiling and should accommodate the base and tree topper. We stained our ceiling one year by picking a tree that was too tall!
Measure that base, too. And don't forget to bring your tape measure when tree shopping!
How are the branches? Are they thick and sturdy or wimpy and saggy?
Many ornaments are big and heavy. So are your Christmas lights. You'll want those branches to be able to carry the full weight of all your decor without drooping to the floor.
The needle from a fresh tree should snap. A needle that does not snap indicates that the tree has been cut for some time.
Weight is a great way to measure freshness.
Sap is another fantastic way to test for freshness. After the tree is cut, it no longer produces sap.
It will continue to use this sap until little remains. So if the tree is still giving sap the parts should be sticky with it. This indicates a healthier tree.
Still, if you see any brown spots or dead spots, keep looking!
Think about what color tree you prefer and needle length. Do you like long needle or short needle? Do you enjoy a fragrant tree?
That tree needs water and lots of it immediately! For the first 3 or 4 days, you'll be watering it several times a day.
If you can't put your Christmas tree up immediately, you'll need to put the tree in a bucket of warm water outside away from the wind and cold.
You know how cats are, they bat at the ornaments. They can also get tangled in the lights when they gnaw on them.
In fact, our cat nearly toppled the Christmas tree one year. Try your best to keep pets away from the tree for their sake and yours!
Shake the branches one more time before bringing the tree inside to get excess needless off.
If your tree is large like ours, then you might want to mount it to a piece of 4x4 plywood to help distribute the weight.
Regardless of what stand you use, it needs to be able to hold at least one gallon of water. Don't add anything to the water.
You probably have heard all the wives tales of adding aspirin, soda water, bleach, salt, sugar, or Karo syrup to keep the tree fresher longer. But most experts insist just plain H2O is best.
This is why it's so important to get the tree into water as soon as possible after the fresh cut.
Besides, water prevents the needles from drying and dropping off and maintains the fragrance.
Some trees may require several quarts a day, so check the water levels in the stand every few hours.