Avoid getting the 'Charlie Brown Christmas tree'

The fresher you can buy a tree, the longer it will last and hold its needles.

Several years ago I wrote an article about how to select a Christmas tree. I thought this year was a good time to dust off that article to share some of my family’s experience of selecting a Christmas tree. 2020 has been challenging in many ways but I hope as we go into the holiday season, we also remember there is still lots to be thankful for.

Tis the season for holidays! For many of us, this means it’s time to put up the Christmas tree. In my family when we were growing up, we always had to have a real Christmas tree. Every year we used to take a trip up to my Grandma’s farm and cut down a tree ourselves. And yes, there were years we felt like the Griswolds. One of those years was when my older sister was in high school. She insisted that she would be the one to cut the Christmas tree down that year and convinced my brother to go with her. Let me tell you what, when she is determined to finish a task, there is no stopping her. In fact, not even a snowstorm could stop her. So, even though she and my brother got stuck in the snow and spent hours digging the pickup out, they did manage to come home with a Christmas tree. However, I am not sure if it was the frustration from getting stuck or if they just didn’t have the patience to look at the top of tree before they cut it down, but the tree they picked was the skimpiest tree we have ever had! To date, we still call it our “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”.

The moral of this story is there are ways to avoid getting the “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree”. If the tree you are cutting down is so tall that you can’t clearly see what the top 7 feet look like, you are probably better off leaving the tree and buying one (I can’t say for sure, but I think this problem played a factor in my sibling’s bad choice in a tree). Eventually, our family had to start buying trees too since the trees at my Grandma’s place started to get too big for us to cut down. When selecting a tree at a store, try to avoid places that have had trees sitting out for a long time. The fresher you can buy a tree, the longer it will last and hold its needles. Also, avoid trees that drop a bunch of needles just by you touching the tree. This is a sign that the tree is already drying out.

Once, you have found your perfect tree, make sure to take proper care of the tree to avoid making your Christmas tree a fire hazard. Cut the bottom 1 to 2 inches off before placing the tree into a tree stand. A tree will have an easier time absorbing water through a fresh cut rather than an older cut that may have had time to “heal”. Make sure to water the tree well daily. Dry Christmas trees not only make a mess by dropping needles, but they also can create a fire risk. Stand the tree in a place that is at least 3 feet away from any heat source. Check Christmas lights before putting them on the tree for any loose or exposed wires, broken bulbs or loose light sockets that could create sparks. Also, be aware of how many light strands you plug into each other to avoid overloading the circuit. You should not have more than three strands plugged into each other at one time. Before you leave your home or go to bed, remember to unplug the lights on the tree.

For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension office at 701-252-9030 or .

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