Picking the perfect tree for the holidays

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 2004

How do you pick the tree that is just right for you and yours?

Here are a few things to take into consideration.

n How long do you plan to leave it up? If you are someone who enjoys a tree from Thanksgiving through New Year’s and later, it is strongly recommended you consider an artificial tree.

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A real tree that is up for such an extended period of time is prone to dry out and become a possible fire hazard (not to mention there are all those dropped needles to sweep up). If you must have that real Christmas tree smell, look for scented potpourri and sprays that evoke the delightful scent of the season.

n How much work do you want to put into &uot;putting up&uot; the tree?

If you hate getting tangled up in strands of lights, consider one of the newer pre-lit artificial trees. Many of the new faux trees also offer very simple assembly easy enough for almost anyone. For older folks who want to enjoy a tree without too much effort, one of these user-friendly trees might be just the ticket.

There are also many table-top trees now on the market, hearkening back to the small-scale early German tannenbaums, which are very festive and don’t require a great deal of space, work or expense.

n Speaking of expense, remember the initial investment for an artificial tree pays for itself rather quickly when you consider the annual cost of purchasing a live tree (typically $40 to $50 or more, depending on the type and size of tree chosen.)

n If you choose to go with a real tree, look for a fresh tree – one with a trunk sticky with sap, branches that bend easily without snapping, and needles that are green, flexible and do no snap off easily.

Once it is indoors at your home, remember it needs water, water and more water to keep it fresh. The truth is – unless it gets its daily water requirements, a real tree is more of an incendiary device than it is an ornament.

n Once you have your tree, be it real or faux, remember these decorating tips from folks in the know: Start with your lights, and use lots of them.

The rule is, 100 lights per foot in height. For that decorator look, string lights from the inside out, working around the trunk and the branches, starting at the base of the trunk and working up. Move on to your garlands; to avoid a busy look, alternate fancy garlands with plain ones.

Use two strands of garland for every vertical foot of the three and always keep some drape to your garlands as you wrap them. With your ornaments, plan on 40 for every vertical foot of tree and use a variety of shapes.

Hang the largest ornaments first, then the small and medium ones. Create depth by placing some ornaments close to the trunk and others dangling out on the boughs.