What You Should Know About Your Christmas Tree

HGTV Magazine says ‘If your spruce could talk, it would give you these pined-for tips and tricks.’
Living Room with Holiday Decorations

Living Room with Holiday Decorations

Marianne still goes all-out without sacrificing style. "The house is very warm and welcoming," she says. "I host an annual holiday party with a fire going in the living room, christmas music playing and hors d'oeuvres and desserts in the dining room."

Photo by: Photography by David A. Land; styling by Matthew Gleason

Photography by David A. Land; styling by Matthew Gleason

“Set me up like a pro.”

After untying your tree, let its branches fall back into shape naturally. Use loppers or heavy-duty scissors to trim uneven branches, then add lights. For a super-sparkly tree, you’ll need about 100 bulbs per foot of height.

“Help me last the season.”

A carefully placed tree—that means away from the fireplace, heating vents, and windows that get a lot of sun—should stay lush for a month if you keep it watered. But don’t bother adding aspirin, bleach, soda, or anything else to its H2O. Despite what you may have heard, they won’t prolong a tree’s life.

“I’d hate the drop the ball.”

Before decking the tree with ornaments, make sure it can support their weight. The stiff branches of blue spruces, Fraser firs, and noble firs hold up better than the fluffy ones on Douglas firs and grand firs. The latter has one of the strongest Christmas tree scents.

“I make good mulch.”

In addition to collecting them for recycling, many areas hold events where trees are run through a chipper to make mulch for parks or your yard. Before hauling over your tree, break off some branches for your compost pile.

“My stand is not a water bowl.”

Bacteria in tree water can upset your pet’s stomach. To keep a dog or a cat from lapping it up, buy a stand with an enclosed water reservoir (Krinner makes a good one) or block the stand with wrapped gifts.

“I’m thirsty.”

Trees need water to stay fresh, and their drinking patterns vary. A newly cut tree will guzzle more than a gallon in the first 48 hours, but a tree from a lot might not soak up much until you’ve had it for a few days. Make sure the bottom few inches of the stump are submerged at all times.

Our experts: Bert Cregg, Ph.D., associate professor at Michigan State University; Rick Dungey, executive director at the National Christmas Tree Association; Ange Niestuchowski, interiorscape and holiday decorating manager at David J. Frank Landscape Contracting, Inc., in Germantown, WI; Jill O’Donnell, senior educator at Michigan State University Extension

Next Up

The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Trees

HGTV Magazine is here with all the tips to help you find, light and decorate a beauty this holiday season.

I Swore I’d Never Get an Artificial Christmas Tree Until I Found Balsam Hill

Wondering if Balsam Hill Christmas trees are really as good as people say? Follow along as I offer a detailed review of my first experience with an artificial Christmas tree to see if you should make the switch just in time for their incredible Christmas clearance sale.

Create a Christmas Village of Glittering Mini Houses

Vintage-inspired miniature houses are making a comeback. See what’s on the market.

Fun Novelty Ornaments for Every Style

Whether your holiday decor style is luxe or laidback, woodsy or retro, the HGTV Magazine editors found beautiful new baubles to trim your tree.

The Best Artificial Christmas Trees on Sale Right Now

Score top-rated trees for a lot less during these sales events.

HGTV Magazine's 2023 Holiday Gift Guide

The editors picked their favorite 50 gifts under $50. Find something fun (and affordable) for everyone on your list!

Easy DIY Holiday Cards From HGTV Magazine

Make a note: These DIY cards are sure to impress your friends and family.

How to Decorate Your Christmas Tree Like a Professional

Not sure if you should start with the lights, the ornaments or the topper? Follow our step-by-step guide for the best way to trim your holiday tree.

The Best Christmas Tree Stands for Every Type of Tree

Before you trim the tree, make sure you have one of these sturdy, top-rated stands.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.