At the Tree Lot: Once you’ve picked your tree, ask the seller to saw off at least one-half inch from the trunk. This fresh cut helps the tree absorb more water and last longer. Make sure he or she shakes off and lose needles before wrapping the tree in netting.
The Ride Home: Before loading the tree onto your car’s roof, lay down a tarp or blanket to protect your car’s paint for scratches. Trees are netted with the branches pointing up. Position the top of the tree over the rear of the car so branches don’t meet air resistance and break as you drive. No roof rack? Open all the doors and tie the tree to the roof before shutting them for the drive. If a tree hangs off the back of the car, tie on a reflective flag to alert other drivers.
The Set Up: Direct heat can dry a tree out making it both an eyesore at a fire hazard. Park yours away from radiators, heating vents, fireplaces and holiday candles. Place an oversized garbage bag beneath the stand. This will help catch falling needles once it is time to take the tree down sparing you a big vacuum job. Be sure to use a stand made to accommodate your tree’s height. You’ll also need one with the built-in reservoir that holds at least a gallon of water. Have two people place the tree in the stand – one to hold and steady the tree, the other to tighten the screws around the trunk. Be sure to keep the netting on as it will make the tree easier to handle.
Shaping and Caring: If your tree needs a trim, use pruners to snip away any small branches that are sticking out. To cut larger branches, use a handsaw or lopper. If your hands get covered with tree sap, rub them with olive oil or baby oil to help remove the residue. Or better yet, wear gardening gloves before you start the entire process.
Garlands and Lights: The best way to put up lights for even twinkle-filled look is to plug a set of three connected strands into a surge protector. Then string straight up the tree, as close to the trunk as possible. Once at the top, start wrapping the strands down around the outer branches. When you need more, plug another strand into the surge protector. Run the lights up the trunk and start wrapping again where the last lights left off.