An activity that I have never adopted is going out the day after Thanksgiving to buy a Christmas tree or anything else. I favor a live tree and am fortunate enough that we can usually find one within 100 yards of the house. I guess I’m old fashioned that way. But I am aware that a lot of folks are going to buy a tree that will be more attractive and safer indoors if it is handled well.
Remember that the tree on the lot was probably cut some days or even weeks before. It’s still in good shape. But the best thing you can do now is get it rehydrated. When you get it home, cut about an inch off the bottom of the trunk and place it in a bucket of water. Place it in a shady location out of the wind. In most cases you will need to refill the water bucket the next day. And the next. After a few days the rapid absorption of water will taper off, and you can bring it inside.
Indoors you’ll still need to keep it watered. Check it daily, especially if you have lights on it. Ideally it should not be close to heat sources, not be where there is a draft, and not be in direct sunlight. And you should check the water frequently to be sure the tree doesn’t dry out. Almost every year we read about a fire that started with a Christmas tree. It doesn’t have to happen. Take care of the tree and enjoy it.
For more tips on caring for your Christmas tree or for a living Christmas tree, visit my website on monthly gardening activities at
The December page includes a list of about 18 plants you might find nearby that are sometimes used for decorating complete with links to pictures.