If you intend to cut the Christmas tree yourself this year you must understand that freshness is extremely important.

Most critical part is to select a healthy Christmas tree. Don’t purchase a tree that is losing green needles or has dry, brittle twigs or a sour, musty smell.

Needles should be resilient and slip through your fingers. Needles should adhere to the branches and not fall off in your hand. They should be flexible, not brittle.

As soon as you cut the Christmas tree ensure that you do not leave the tree lying in the sun for long periods of time, especially if the weather is warm.

If the tree cannot be immediately displayed, make a fresh cut at the base and stand it in a bucket of water in a cool, shady location indoors or out.

When setting up the tree in your stand, cut off a disk of wood about a half-inch to an inch thick from the base of the trunk immediately before putting the tree in the stand.

Make the cut perpendicular to the stem. Do not cut at an angle. This reduces the amount of water available to the tree and makes it difficult to hold the tree plumb in the stand.

Use a stand that fits your Christmas tree; avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit the stand. The outer layers of wood are most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.

You will be required for fresh Christmas trees to use about one quart of water per day per inch of trunk diameter. The stand should hold enough water to last at least 24 hours.Do not use additives of any kind in the water. Clean water is the only requirement to maintain freshness.

The type of tree you select depends on what qualities your “perfect” tree must have. Color, needle length, height, shape, fragrance and the ability to hold ornaments are all traits to consider.

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