Now that I'm back in New York, I really have to kick into gear with my Christmas preparations. I was so distracted by my planning for my trip to California and running the marathon that I honestly haven't done a thing about Christmas and New Year's. Time to get rolling on the gift-buying, party planning, and home decorating, stat. Today, I am buzzing around like one of Santa's elves, unpacking, cleaning, and digging out all our Christmas stuff from storage. And tonight, JM and I are going out to buy our tree. While I'm excited, I'm still smarting from trees of year's past, which have completely dried out, and become stiff, grayish messes by the middle of December. They didn't look too hot, were a major fire hazard, and you should have seen the trail of pine needles I had to vacuum up going all the way down the building's stairs when we finally got rid of them. So, this year, I finally did my research, and realized all of the mistakes I have made with previous years' trees, and am determined not to make them again. Here's how to keep a Christmas tree (or Hanukkah bush) fresh, green and alive (at least until the holidays are over).
1. Buy Fresh. Try to get a tree that has been cut down in the last three days. That can be tough if you live in, say, Arizona, but if you ask the vendor ahead of time, they will generally be honest with you about how long trees have been sitting around, and when there are new deliveries arriving. If you time your trip to the Christmas tree stand according to that schedule, as an added bonus, you'll also get first dibs on that perfectly shaped tree before anyone else sees it.
2. Slice Job: Before you take your tree home, have the seller slice off the bottom of the trunk for you. When a tree has been out of water for more than a few hours, the trunk saps up, leaving it unable to absorb water. A fresh cut will make your beauty ready to soak up water.
3. The Water, the Whole Water... When you get your tree home, put it in a stand with a reservoir that holds at least one gallon of water. A tree can drink up to a gallon a day, so make sure you refill it every night (relax, it's only for a couple weeks). Never let the water level get lower than the bottom cut of the trunk, as any exposure to air will allow the cut to sap up, and you will have to re-cut it to get it to absorb water again. I always use my lemonade pitcher for this task- it pours evenly and keeps me from spilling water all over the floor.
4. ...And Nothing But the Water. No matter what you have heard, adding things to the tree's water like aspirin or bleach doesn't keep the tree fresher longer. In fact, it can have the opposite effect. Just give the tree water, and it will be happy. Well, as happy as something that has been chopped down can be.
5. Cool It. Don't put your tree right next to your fireplace (this is a hard one for us, since we have fireplaces in almost every room... yes, I am bragging about my fireplaces again), or anywhere where it will be exposed to too much hot air (like on top of your radiator's floor vent, as I did last year - oops). Surprise, surprise, dry, hot air will cause your tree to dry out. Likewise, the large-bulb Christmas lights emit far more heat than the small ones, so avoid them if you can possibly resist.
Learn from my mistakes, and you'll have a gorgeous, green, living tree. Or don't, and at least you'll end up with some great kindling.
photo credit: Country Living
6 hours ago