During the Christmas rush when buying seems to be the activity that reigns supreme, we tend to overlook what goes into buying a Christmas tree. Coming back from the mall and the car trunk already brimming with merchandise, we pass a roadside tree shop and say, “okay, we’re here already, might as well buy a Christmas tree now!”
Saving time and a return trip are fine, but what happens when you get home and find out that it’s the wrong tree size or your second child is allergic to fir? That’s fine too, your next best alternative is to dig up the dusty box in the attic and take out the plastic tree!
Don’t disrespect the tradition of buying and decorating a Christmas tree by rushing it. Following these preliminary steps will ensure that you don’t waste time and money buying the wrong tree.
- Decide where you want to put it. The most popular choice is the living room but some people would rather not clutter the living room space especially when they’re going to be doing a lot of entertaining. So will it be the terrace, the sunroom, the dining room or the family room where everyone gathers around the fireplace after supper?
- Measure the height of the ceiling. Allow one foot clearing distance from the ceiling. More than one foot is probably better so that the person assigned to put the star on top of the tree doesn’t fall over. Bring your tape measure when you shop for a tree.
- The base of the tree is just as important. Ensure that you have a solid base that will take the weight of the tree (we’re referring to the weight after it has been decorated). Make sure too that the base is wide enough. This is important, especially when there are children in the house. Let’s not forget the playful dog and cat.
- Choose a tree with thick and plentiful leaves and a bark that doesn’t look like it’s suffering from bark disease. Ask the seller when the tree was cut. One way of testing for freshness is to give the tree a little shake. If a lot of leaves fall, that means the tree is on its last legs.
Christmas Tree Varieties
The three most popular Christmas tree varieties are Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir and Fraser Fir.
The Balsam Fir is a favorite because of its smell. They give off a fragrant smell and are usually tall and narrow (slender as some people would say). The leaves are short and flat and have resinous needles. It is considered an evergreen conifer and ts bark is thin and gray, but can be brown in older trees.
The Douglas Fir is described as a graceful tree. It is similar to the Balsam, but its needles are slightly longer. This variety is abundant in North America, making up about one-fifth of all softwood trees. It can grow to as high as 60 feet and can spread to about 25 feet if left in its natural habitat.
The Fraser Fir is almost mistaken to be Balsam but its distinguishing characteristics are that its needles measure half an inch to two thirds of an inch and are a nice dark green at the top with silver hues at the bottom. The shape of this tree is pyramid-like and can grow as tall as 80 feet (its maximum height) when left in its natural habitat.
There are other Christmas tree varieties like the Noble Fir and the Scotch Pine. The Noble Fir is most common in the West Coast but is fast becoming a favorite throughout the US and Canada. The Scotch Pine is the # 1 choice of North Americans. Their branches turn upward, making it easier to hang Christmas décor objects. It is currently the top seller in the US for this reason.
After Buying your Christmas Tree…
You need to take precautions so as not to spoil your holidays and avoid accidents. Here are some simple rules to follow:
- “No pets allowed.” Keep your pets away from the tree and don’t leave them alone in the room where the tree is. If they have to be present, ensure that you or another family member is around to prevent them from stepping on wires or playing with the hanging decorations;
- Children and pets like to go under the tree to look at the gift-wrapped presents. You can trim the lower leaves and remove any pointed parts that could cause eye injury or scratch skin;
- Do not install your Christmas tree near a heat element, fireplace or portable heater.
- For delicate ornaments or décor items that have sharp hooks or are pointed, it is safer to hang them in upper branches where children and pets can’t get to them;
- Artificial snow sprays can be toxic and trigger allergies, so avoid using them.
- Before bedtime or when you have to leave the house for long periods, turn off tree lights. Use only electrical cords and extension plugs that are UL-approved. If the cords are worn out, replace them immediately.
Time to Decorate the Christmas Tree
You’ve bought your tree, installed it, and it’s standing securely in place. The kids have been told how to behave around the Christmas tree and you’ve taken steps to make sure the dog or cat does not bring it down, creating a wreck.
Buying Christmas tree decorations isn’t much of a problem because it’s a question of personal taste. The only problem we can think of is the huge variety out there making it difficult to decide! Prices range from under a dollar to about $200.00 per piece and a lot will depend from whom you’re buying your Christmas tree decorations.
Decorations need not cost an arm and a leg for them to look attractive. You can use last year’s decorations or create a theme for this year. If you choose a theme like “animals”, then you know what to buy. You can also choose the theme of “angels” and angels nowadays come in all colors, shapes and sizes.
We’ve seen Christmas trees decorated with just ribbons. The ribbons come in a rich assortment of colors and sizes, some with glitter, some with tiny bells in the center. Some made of felt, some made of rope, and some made of strong paper with reflector colors. Use your imagination!