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Video:Tips for Picking a Christmas Tree

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Looking for that perfect Christmas tree but not quite sure how to go about choosing one? Learn about types of trees and what to look for, and you'll be all geared up for the holidays.See Transcript

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Transcript:Tips for Picking a Christmas Tree

'Tis the season to be in the market for the number one holiday decoration around the globe, the Christmas Tree.

Origins of Christmas Trees

Evergreen trees have been used to celebrate the winter season as far back as the days of the Ancient Egyptians, who used green date palm leaves to symbolize the triumph of life over death. But legend suggests that it wasn't until the 16th century that Martin Luther decorated the first true Christmas tree with candles.

I don't know Martin -- dead, sappy tree, open flames... it's a wonder we don't all run out and buy burned down houses to celebrate the season.

Measure Space for Christmas Tree

Before you do anything, take a few minutes to measure the space you're planning to put your tree. Remember that trees often open up a bit after the first few days, so give yourself a little wiggle room. Don't forget to write down your findings before you head off to hunt down your tree. Be sure to avoid things like radiators, heat vents, and electrical outlets -- if you're careful and make sure to water your tree regularly, you will reduce the risk of its becoming a fire hazard. Remember, safety first.

Types of Christmas Trees

When you head to your local Christmas tree lot, look for vendors that have the largest selection of sizes and types of trees. Popular varieties include Fraser Firs, Douglas Firs, Noble Firs, Scotch and Virgina Pine. You can always pull a Clark Griswold and take your family and an axe into the deep woods, but chopping your own tree is often illegal and generally messier. Little full, lotta sap.

Healthy, Lasting Christmas Trees

When choosing your tree, don't forget your measurements and a measuring tape, and look for the greenest, fullest options, in the shape that's most appealing to you. Bumping the tree's base against the ground should not set off an avalanche of falling needles, and running your hand through the branches should leave the majority of needles intact, too. Be sure the trunk, or handle, of the tree is reasonably straight, and make sure the tree vendor cuts off a ring of the bottom -- a fresh cut will aid in the tree's ability to absorb water.

Saving Money on Christmas Trees

If you're looking to save a few bucks on your tree, which can be pretty pricey these days, you might consider getting a table-top tree. Same rules apply, just remember you need an actual table top to display it, or you might just find you have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

Artificial vs. Real Christmas Trees

A quick word on real trees versus artificial ones: you might think you're saving the environment by not supporting an industry that chops down millions of trees each year for decorative purposes. But, you're also supporting one that grows millions of trees year after year, providing all sorts of ecological benefits, especially if you're sure to recycle your tree after the holiday.

Greener Christmas Trees

And if you're really feeling green, go for a potted tree that you can put in your yard on December 26, or see about renting a tree from any number of eco-friendly websites. Some of these even deliver and pick up, which means one less holiday errand for you. Happy holidays.

I'm Jonathon Stewart, with About.com.
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