This past weekend, while my parents were in town, we went and picked out a Christmas tree for this year. Growing up, we always switched back and forth between a live tree and an artificial one, but I personally love going to a Christmas tree farm to find the perfect tree. Here in Birmingham there aren't many Christmas tree farms to choose from but, by golly, there is one great one! Old Baker Farm, southeast of Birmingham, is a sweet family-owned farm welcoming anyone to find their special tree.
But what is the perfect tree? How do you get a "Pinterest worthy" Christmas tree? Well, here is your Southern'spirations Christmas elf with some tips and tricks for everything Christmas tree!
First, you have to decide if you want a live tree or an artificial one. There are pros and cons to both so whichever you decide I have tips!!
For Live Trees
1. Know your tree types. If you go to a farm or your neighborhood tree stand, the owners should be able to teach you the differences in the trees and trust me there are differences. Short needles, long needles, some have a strong smell, some are mild, so get to know your options before you grab a tree. Since moving to Alabama, where the traditional Douglas Fir is not native, I have grown to love the Virginia Pine. The longer needles really fill out the tree and the needles seem to not drop as fast as the firs.
2. Bring a measuring tape. A tree out in the open will look a lot smaller than it will in your living room. I have picked out many a large tree and now know how they will fit the space. Also it helps to measure the space and ceiling height of where the tree will be placed in your home.
3. Look at the 360-degree view of the tree. Before picking the tree, be sure to look at it from all sides. Make sure the branches are evenly distributed and the trunk is not crooked. A crooked tree is nearly impossible to stand up straight in a stand later.
4. Plan for the tree at home. Have your tree stand and furniture moved before heading to get your tree. It will make set up seamless and will also help you visualize how big of a tree you need.
5. Have the bottom branches cut before heading home. Ask the individuals wrapping your tree to take off the bottom branches before you attempt to cut it at home.
Especially if you are like me and live in an apartment with the minimum amount of tools.
6. Water the tree for the first time with boiling water. A tree farmer taught me this trick. Boiling water is supposed to help "clean the wound" and makes the tree last longer. I am not sure of the science behind this but my trees have lasted longer the last couple of years.
7. Check the tree water daily. Be sure to check the water daily since the tree will soak up a large amount of water on the first couple of days. I usually just check the water levels each morning and add water when needed. A tree that is left dry will definitely die faster and drop all of its needles.
8. Pick the ornament for the branch. Unlike an artificial tree, the branches vary in how much weight they can take. Make sure you place heavier ornaments on thicker branches to keep the tree happy and your ornaments off the ground.
For Fake Trees
1. Know your space. Before buying a new tree or putting up your old one make sure to clear the space needed and arrange the room for the tree.
2. Take time to fix your branches. When a fake tree comes out of a box, new or old, the branches are bent onto one another and flattened. Fluff the branches by pulling them apart to have a more realistic look. This will take some time and patience but so worth it.
3. Do not buy a pre-lit tree. At some point the lights will go out and you will have to either buy a new tree or put lights on it. It is not worth the money to buy it pre-lit.
4. Do not buy a white tree. Or if you do buy a cheap one. I had a white tree and it yellowed after a couple years and is no longer usable.
Decorating Any Tree
1. Twinkling lights. To add a magical feel, opt for the white lights that say twinkle on the box. They are a couple of dollars more than the normal white lights, but once they warm up they have a cozy glowing twinkling effect that makes any tree feel magical.
2. Weave the lights in. Make sure to weave the lights into the branches but not in a straight line curving around the tree. Now, this may mean buying one more strand of lights but it is worth it to have the tree fully lit up.
3. Drape the garland. After you have put on the lights, gently drape your garland around the tree again and allow it to hang by leaving some slack. I prefer a garland of reflective nature, like my golden snowflakes or pearls, to reflect the twinkling of the lights and add some sparkle.
4. Work your way around the tree. When putting on ornaments, take your time by looking for the best placement of each one. Try not to have too many of the same size and shape on one side of the tree. You want a 360-degree view and for the tree to look balanced.
5. Have fun! Whether you are doing a beach themed tree or decorating with your kids' craft projects, it is Christmas! Enjoy the process of decorating your Christmas tree and make new memories this year!
Blessings from Birmingham!