Every year the decision has to be made, real tree or artificial tree? If you decide to go with the beautiful-smelling real option, we have some tips for you.

I haven't bought a real tree in years. In fact, I think I was around 5 the last time a real tree was in my house. So when my girlfriend said she had her heart set on a real tree, it was time to do some remembering.

If this is your first year - or just your first year in a while we can help.

Picking out a tree:

The top-selling Christmas trees, as reported by growers across the United States, are the Scotch pine, Douglas fir, white pine, and balsam fir, in that order.

If there are a lot of needles on the ground around the trees, pick a different place.

To check a tree’s freshness, pull your hand towards you along the branch. Needles should not fall off.

Caring for your tree:

  • When you bring your tree home, saw a couple inches off the bottom of the trunk before setting in water. When trees are cut, sap oozes out and seals the pores. By sawing off the base, you will open up the pores, and the tree will be able to absorb water.
  • Don't cut the trunk at an angle or v-shape, it reduces the amount of water the tree can take in and can make it hard to fit the stand.
  • Watering is critical. A freshly-cut tree can consume a gallon of water in 24 hours!
  • Fill the tree stand with water and keep it filled.
  • Never let the water level go below the tree’s base. (again watering is the best way to keep it fresh and reduce needle loss)
  • Indoors, keep the tree away from heating ducts or other heat sources. In fact, the lower the temperature, the better the tree will do, because colder temperatures will slow the drying process.
  • Use lights that give off low heat, like LED's. This will slow the drying process.
  • Don't whittle the sides of the trunk to fit the stand. The outer layer of wood is the best at absorbing water
  • Drilling a hole in the trunk DOES NOT improve water uptake!
  • Water temperature is not important and doesn't affect water uptake
  • Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove.

After Christmas when you're ready to get rid of your tree, use these tips from the National Christmas Tree Association.