This is the time of year that finds millions of households digging boxes of ornaments out of mothballs and scouring the landscape for the world’s best Christmas tree. Surely it’s out there somewhere! Picking out a tree can be tricky, and we’re here to help you find the best Christmas tree for your house this holiday season.
Real Vs. Artificial
Chances are, you’ve already made up your mind on whether you want a real or artificial tree this year, but each has its advantages. Real trees offer that unmistakable evergreen scent, the tradition of picking one out, and simple authenticity. They also give you the option of buying a live tree, which you can later plant on your property. And while artificial trees have made huge gains in popularity, thirty million evergreens are sold every year, according to BobVila.com, so it’s clear that plenty of people still prefer the real thing.
Artificial trees, of course, are reusable. They’re convenient, easy to set up, and cheaper in the long run than buying numerous real trees over the course of many years. Artificial trees are also customizable—if you want a blue, white or purple-colored tree to match your decor, chances are you can find one.
Best Christmas Tree Types
Even if you’ve narrowed your options down to a real tree, you still have many different tree species to choose from. The best Christmas tree for you depends on availability and personal preference, but you have quite a few options:
These trees are long-lasting, with a symmetrical conical shape and two-tone needles that are dark green on top and silvery underneath. The downside of balsam firs is that they have flexible branches that can’t always hold up heavy ornaments.
One of the most common Christmas trees, especially on the West Coast, Douglas firs have soft needles that grow on all sides of the branches. The foliage can be a bit too dense to load up with a lot of ornaments, but they have a sweet aroma and particularly symmetrical shape.
This tree is known for holding its needles very well, even if it dries out. The dark green needles are long and somewhat prickly, but the branches are sturdy enough for heavy ornaments.
Named for the silvery-blue color of its needles, the Colorado blue spruce is one of several popular spruce varieties that make excellent Christmas trees. They are often sold as living trees that can be replanted. The branches are sturdy, and grow in a nice pyramid shape, but the needles tend to shed more readily than some other varieties.
These are some of the most common Christmas tree types, but there are many more. The National Christmas Tree Association offers a wealth of information on all the best Christmas tree species.
Picking Out A Tree
Just because a tree looks good in the store, or out in the field, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best Christmas tree for your home. Keep a few things in mind when you’re looking for that perfect tree:
- Measure Your Space. There’s nothing worse than getting home and realizing the tree you’ve selected is too tall for the room.
- Check for Freshness. Try bending a needle between your fingers—fir and spruce needles should snap cleanly, while pine needles should bend but not break. Avoid trees with needles that appear dry or unevenly colored.
- Make Sure the Needles Are Secure. If you grasp a branch and pull gently toward you, the needles should stay on the branch. You can also shake the tree, or its stump on the ground to test the needles. Expect a few to fall off, but if lots of them do, look for a different tree.
- Freshen the Trunk. Once you get the tree home, cut off about a half inch from the base of the trunk before putting it in water. The fresh cut will absorb water better and keep the tree fresh longer.
- Keep It Cool. Although placing your tree next to the fireplace might create a picturesque scene, proximity to a heat source dries a tree out more quickly, and can cause it to drop a lot of needles.
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