Here are seven tips to help you make the most of your Christmas tree.
- Keeping It Alive
There’s nothing like tap water to keep your cut Christmas tree in top shape for as long as possible … at least, according to a study done for Pacific Horticulture magazine. It found essentially no difference in how long a Christmas tree lasted when treated with homemade products (aspirin, Seven-Up, bleach, sugar, distilled water) or commercial preservatives compared to the use tap water alone. To make your Christmas trees last longer, simply keep the base of the trunk constantly immersed in water directly from the tap … and lower the thermostat at night!
- Measure Before You Buy
To obtain a Christmas tree suited to the space you have available, measure the height of the room where you’ll be installing it and subtract at least 18 inches (45 cm). After all, you need some wiggle room for the stand and the star. Outdoors, with a limitless sky above, all the trees seem smaller than they really are … but once in your home, the little tree that looked so cute may now look more like a monster trying to punch a hole in the ceiling. Of course, you can always cut a tree that is too tall to shorten it, but … you pay for Christmas trees according to their height. Why pay more for a tall Christmas tree and then be forced to cut it down to size once you bring it home?
- No Discount for Latecomers
To maintain market value of their stock throughout the Holiday season, Christmas tree sellers stick together. They don’t offer last-minute deals and are more likely to chop up any excess trees for mulch that to sell them off at a rebate to minutes-before-midnight bargain hunters. The real bargain comes by purchasing your tree fairly early in the season: you’ll then be able to choose the most beautiful specimen, getting the most bang for your buck.
- Before You Bring the Tree Home…
Commercial Christmas trees are harvested well before Christmas: in November or even October, then lie around piled up until the time comes to put them on sale. They hang on very well given the cooler temperatures of the season, but the cut end tends to harden off, with sap drying up and plugging the vascular tissues that carry moisture to the needles. So have the seller cut a thin slice off the base of the trunk before bringing it home. Or do it yourself just before you bring it in. This will free up any plugged vascular tissues, allowing water to flow freely … and the more water your tree receives, the longer the needles last.
- Neat Uses for Cut Branches
When you bring your tree indoors, you almost inevitably need to cut or shorten a few branches. And, if you ask nicely, most Christmas tree merchants will also let you haul away even more branches. But why would you? Because you can use them in your Holiday decorations. For example:
- Take a metal clothes hanger and form it into a circle. Then tie fir branches to it and add a few other decorations (ribbons, bells, ornaments, etc.) and there you go: a very attractive homemade Christmas wreath for the front door;
- Attach fir branches and a few decorations to a rope and it becomes a great Christmas garland;
- Inserted into a little florist’s foam (Oasis), smaller branches form a good base for a Christmas table centerpiece;
- Poke branches into the soil of a flower box left outside for a very nice effect that will last not just through Xmas, but all winter.
- Decorate your Houseplants
Why buy a Christmas tree when you probably already have beautiful “trees” in your home? Indeed, any good-sized green houseplant plant (Norfolk pine, weeping fig, even a palm tree!) can be decorated with garlands, ornaments and even Christmas lights (today’s LED lights give off no heat that can harm leaves) and make a very beautiful—and original!—Christmas tree.
- What to Do With the Tree After Christmas?
- Cut off its branches and use them to cover any especially fragile plants in your garden. They make an excellent protective mulch on their own, plus they help snow accumulate … and the more snow there is, the less the plants suffer from the cold.
- Stand the tree upright in your yard and decorate it with balls of suet and seeds. Not only will it then serve not only as a bird feeder, but also as a place where you feathered friends can take shelter during periods of intense cold.
- Even when you have stretched your Christmas tree use as far as you possibly can, never just toss it in the trash. Almost every town has a drop-off location where you can bring your tree so it can be recycled into mulch or compost.
Who knew a simple Christmas tree offered so many opportunities!