1. Pick a good one!
Choose a healthy tree. You'll find plenty to choose from on The Christmas Tree Farm, where you can purchase your tree while it's still in the ground. A freshly-cut Christmas tree will last longer than one that's been cut weeks ago and shipped to distant retail outlets.
2. Make space in your home
Your freshly cut tree should be kept away from open flames or heat sources which may dry it out prematurely. Corners are an ideal location because this placement keeps the tree safe from knocks and bumps.
If you'll be using lights to decorate your tree, place it close to a power socket. If this is not possible, use an extension cord. If you do, run it alongside a wall to avoid creating a trip hazard.
Cover the floor where the tree will be placed. You can use a properly sewn tree skirt, Christmas-themed paper or a piece of satin fabric. This will not only serve decorative purposes; if you are using a water-filled tree base (see below), it will also help protect the floor in case any water splashes out.
(If you have a skirt that goes over the tree holder, you can still place a barrier underneath the cradle and apply the decorative skirt after the tree has been mounted. Not only does this make the tree more presentable but it prevents pets from attempting or wanting to drink the water in the base).
3. Mount the Tree
Prepare the base of your tree. Using a small handsaw, cut about a half inch to an inch (1.3cm-2.5cm) off the bottom to aid water absorption.
It is recommended that you don't cut the base at an angle, in a V-shape or drill a hole in the base. None of these methods help water absorption and they may make it more difficult to hold the tree safely in the stand.
DO NOT cut the tree with a reciprocal saw or any blade that moves so fast that it will create friction. If the cut gets hot enough, the sap in the tree will seal the end and make water absorption impossible. A chainsaw or manual saw will work.
Mount your tree within eight hours of cutting the base. That is how long a fresh tree can go without water before absorption is jeopardised. A Christmas tree should never be mounted dry. It is much better to place it in a container of water that is replenished on a regular basis. You can buy special tree cradles or stands which screw into the base of the tree and provide watering space.
(Note: ensure that whatever you use, the tree is stable. Don't whittle down the bark of the tree just so that it can fit in the stand - that outer layer is the part that absorbs the most water).
Make sure the tree is straight. It is a good idea for at least two people to put up the tree, one holding it stable while the other fixes the base. Always stand back to check that the tree is straight before you get busy decorating. Obviously, it is easiest to fix at this stage. Before decorating, let the tree sit for a while to "settle" into its shape. Some suggest just an hour or so, others overnight.
4. Decorate your tree safely
For many, this is the most enjoyable part. It's also a good time to think about Christmas tree safety. A properly maintained Christmas tree should not be a fire hazard, as long as you use common sense in decorating it. For example:
- Check each string of lights to ensure that the bulbs are working properly.
- Inspect the cords to make sure they are not frayed or bitten by pets, and that the connections are secure.
- Place small and fragile ornaments out of the reach of small children and pets to prevent accidental breakage or ingestion.
5. Take care of your tree
To keep your tree from drying out prematurely, make sure your tree gets lots of water. In the first few hours indoors, it will need plenty; afterward, you will need to add water almost every day. Make sure you never let the water level go below the base of the tree.
6. Disposing of your tree
If you have room in your garden, you can leave your tree there until spring, when you can chip it into garden mulch. Alternatively, you can drop your old tree back to us and we will recycle the tree for you; or visit the Wexford County Council recycling points.