1 Measure the height of your ceiling. If the tree is too tall, you won't be able to fit a star or an angel on it, or you may have to trim the top. Don't forget to account for the height of your stand and the area in which you plan to put your tree.
2 Choose a tree with an appealing shape that fits where you need it. Some people prefer short fat trees, others long, skinny trees, still others prefer the "perfect" cone shaped tree. Most people prefer fat trees or "perfectly" shaped trees. Retailers know this, so they will charge more for these trees. So make sure you know your price and desires before you buy it.
3 Check for freshness by one of the following methods:
When trees are cut and shipped, they undergo a lot of stress. Losing needles is normal. Most retailers will shake trees to remove these loose needles, but some do not. Yes, loss of needles can be a sign of an old tree, but this is not a sure-fire method.
For Frasier and Douglas firs, a better way to test freshness is to remove a firmly connected needle and bend in it half. The needle from a fresh tree should snap. A needle that does not snap indicates that the tree has been cut for some time.
An even better way to test freshness is by weight. After the tree is cut, it no longer produces sap. It will continue to use this sap until little remains. It takes an experienced tree-chooser to be able to tell this. Most tree lot assistants do not work on commission. If you offer the assistant a tip, he or she will help you pick a long lasting tree (he or she might also tell you which trees were received most recently). Another way to tell if the tree still is giving sap is that parts should be sticky with it. As long as you do not mind, give your tree a hug. If you come out sticky and covered in sap then it's probably still fresh.
On firs and some types of pine, the branches of a fresh tree should be flexible. This is not the case for all trees. However, trees that fail this test are likely to be very old and would not be found on a reputable tree lot. Be careful this method is risky and may harm your tree.
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