How to Select and Decorate a Christmas Tree

You may need to remove a few branches to help your tree sit in the stand.

Tree Stand Installation

What do I do with my tree when I get home?

Your main priority should be getting your tree in water. Even if you can’t decorate it right away, at the very least you should:

  • If you’re buying a precut tree, remove 1/2″- 1” off the trunk. The staff at the tree lot will often do this for you, but if you’re a long way from home you might as well wait.
  • Put the freshly cut trunk in water within 2 hours to keep it from sealing over.
  • Prune only enough branches for the trunk to fit in your tree stand – usually about 6” is enough.
  • Give your tree a good shake to dislodge any dried-out needles before bringing it inside. Your vacuum cleaner will thank you later!
  • Put the tree in the stand, set it in place (or on a sheltered porch), and fill the reservoir with water.

What kind of Christmas tree stand is best?

There’s not really a “best” tree stand – just make sure the reservoir holds at least a gallon of water, and that the trunk of your tree will fit in the stand easily (never shave the trunk to make it fit!). Some stands have screws that hold the tree in place while others have a spike that requires drilling a hole in the bottom of the tree. I prefer an adjustable screw tree stand with a wide plastic base that won’t scratch my floors and isn’t likely to turn over.

Christmas Tree Care

How much water does my tree need?

In the beginning, your tree can drink a gallon or more of water per day. Check the reservoir several times over the first few days, then at least once a day after that. Never let the reservoir dry out, or your tree will seal over and need another fresh cut. Water uptake will fluctuate once your tree is hydrated, so continue to monitor it.

What about aspirin and other water additives?

Additives to tree water aren’t necessary. What your tree needs most is a constant supply of fresh tap water.

Remember to water, water, water!

What should I do to keep my tree from drying out?

Sprays and other treatments aren’t necessary if you give your tree enough water. Cool temperatures and humidity help as well, so you may want to close any heat vents near your tree and place a small humidifier nearby.

Where should I put my tree?

Put it where you can get the most enjoyment out of it! However, to make your tree last longer (and for safety), keep it away from heat vents, fireplaces, and drafts.


  1. The Christmas tree symbolizes peace and love and is a decorated evergreen coniferous tree. It is a tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas or the original name Yule. According to Christian lore, the Christmas tree is associated with St Boniface and the German town of Geismar.

  2. i have designed a tree stand that has a built in resovoir that holds 7 us gallons. no external componets, water tanks, hoses, valve assemblies. just physics. not only does it hold an incredable amount of water, the weight of the water makes it virtually tip proof.

  3. My tree is turning brown. It was fresh cut, and I put it in the water right away, and it has been full of water. I heard putting sugar helps, but I don’t know what to do.

  4. We have a freshly cut live tree that was put immediately from returning home into a bucket of water 10 days ago…it has basically drunk no water. Instead of doing a fresh cut again, can we drill holes in the bottom to allow this tree to drink water? Need help ASAP…plan to bring it inside today or tomorrow.

  5. If the tree appears to be drying out, use warm or hot water to refill the stand. Warmer water can be absorbed more quickly and will help rejuvenate the tree.

  6. Help my husband is an idiot he bought a tree with a big gap of branches missing it looks hideous against my advice and n ow I have put it in the stand with water and the branches will not open Why?

    • Hi, Trisha,
      Gardening questions can be tricky since the rules can change based on the region. You didn’t include the location, so we would suggest contacting your local Master Gardeners association.
      Master gardeners train on a range of topics so they can provide advice, at no charge, for people in their area.
      Thanks for your question, and good luck!

  7. Cutting our Christmas tree this year. Does cutting it in colder temperatures make it last longer, or warm. This weekend vs next weekend with have a 10-20 degree difference (-15 today, vs predicted temps of +6 next weekend)


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