OK, what do I do?
Buying the right tree
Here are our tips for picking up the perfect Christmas tree, especially useful if this is the first time you’ve gone shopping for one!Measure. This is a biggie. It’s well known that trees always look much bigger once you actually get them into your home – especially if you picked yours up from an outdoor retailer! You don’t have to specifically break out a tape measure, but definitely maintain perspective: if it’s the same size as your uncle who has to duck to get through the living room door, you might have problems getting it into the house!Do you want to be needle-drop free? It’s possible to pay a premium and get a tree that’s needle-drop free. The first thing to consider is that they’re very rarely completely needle-drop free. However, the difference between a non-dropper and a normal tree bought off a forecourt can be substantial. You might still get a bit of needle drop, but you won’t find yourself wading through two inches of them by New Year.Make sure you get a fresh tree. It’s much, much better to pick up one that’s only just been cut, as it’s far more likely to go the distance. The best way to check this is to give the tree a nice tap on the ground; if a load of needles fall off, then the tree is already on its way out and you should go for a different one!Should you go artificial? Well, the traditionalist in us wants to scream ‘no!’ and whisk you away to the real trees. However, for certain people and in certain situations, artificial trees can be pretty useful. If you’re exceptionally busy and know in advance that you’ll have little time to do any maintenance, then an artificial tree is probably the sensible choice.
Caring for the tree
Ok, now you’ve got the right tree, it’s time to enjoy the holidays! However, your tree will still need some maintenance; otherwise you might end up with bare branches and a carpet covered in needles!Continually water the tree. Check once a day to make sure the base of the trunk is still sub-merged, and top up the water if it’s not. And yes, you really do need to check everyday: you’d be amazed how much water a thirsty tree can hoover up.Try and keep it away from heat. Warmth is a wonderful part of Christmas: everything from a good fire to a nice blanket whilst it’s snowing outside. However, your tree might disagree! The higher the room temperature, the quicker the tree will dry out, and the more needles you’ll lose. Where you can, keep the tree away from heat.Turn off the lights! Whenever you head to bed, turn off all of the lights. Again, bulbs can heat up over time, and are likely to get pretty toasty by the end of the day. This isn’t good for the tree! Turn off the lights when you go to bed: it’ll give them (and the tree) a chance to cool overnight.
Clearing up the tree
Well, that’s it: Christmas is done for the year! That means it’s time to clear everything away. Here’s how to do so without wrecking the living room:Remove all of the decorations – carefully! Most of the decorations you’ve used are probably attached using a single hook which can be easily removed. The tricky bit is usually the lights, as these are typically woven in fairly deep. Unwrap them gently, and be patient: otherwise you’ll end up pulling out a huge amount of needles, and you also risk tearing the circuitry in the lights – meaning you won’t be able to re-use them next near!Wrap the tree up as best you can once the decorations have been removed. A plastic tree bag is obviously perfect, but even black bin bags can work if you use a lot of them. The aim is to catch any needles that could fall.Clear a path to the nearest door. Do this NOW: you won’t be able to once you’re holding half a tree!Loosen the tree gently, as you don’t want it to tip over. This is definitely a two person job; you’ll need one person to keep the tree steady whilst the other removes the supports.
Bag it. If you’ve been keeping the tree watered as you should have done, the base of the tree will probably have developed a coat of sap. Have another bag ready to wrap around the base so you don’t get sap on anything else!
Remember, rather than chucking your tree out, you can dispose of it in a more environmentally friendly way. Keep your Christmas green and check if your council offers a tree recycling service. Even if they don’t, put the tree into your garden waste recycling bin – you may, of course, have to chop it up first!
To view a wide range of Christmas decorations, trees and supports, meanwhile, visit our Christmas store here .