Handy Tips and Hacks for Christmas Trees
Use these tips to make your holiday festivities easier
Knee-Saving Watering Technique
To make tree watering easier, hang a funnel from a tree branch with a loop of clothes hanger. Then slip a plastic tube over the end of the funnel and run the tube along the trunk and into the water reservoir. To prevent overfilling, have one of the kids watch the water level or put a finger in the reservoir and tell you when it’s full.
No-Spill Christmas Tree
A plastic snow saucer, the kind with the flat area in the center (available at discount stores), is great for keeping overflowing Christmas tree water from staining your floor. Place a carpet remnant under the saucer to prevent scratches on wood flooring. If you're really worried about leaks, you can also use technology to detect water leaks.
Buy a Tree Bag When You Get Your Tree
Slip a tree disposal bag over the base of the tree before putting it in the stand. (Tear a slit for the trunk so the tree can get water!) The bag is hidden under the tree skirt until you're ready to haul the tree out the door—without leaving a trail of needles through the house. Just remove the ornaments from the tree, pull the bag up like a pair of pants, and you're on your way.
Christmas Tree Basics
Check the height of the tree before you bring it into the house to make sure it'll fit under the ceiling. Then if you have to shorten the trunk, the sawdust will stay outside. Cut an inch or so off the bottom of the trunk. The fresh wood can absorb more water, so the tree will stay fresher longer. Check the trunk diameter by test-fitting the stand. If the tree's too big, you'll need to either get a bigger stand;—or start whittling. Use a lopper to trim any bottom branches that don't clear the sides of the stand.
Don't Cut Off the Netting-Yet
Cat-Proof Christmas Tree
Two or three lengths of fishing line can keep climbing cats or rambunctious kids from tipping your tree. Just tie one end of each line to the top of the tree and the other to something sturdy: a screw driven into an inconspicuous spot on the wall, moldings above windows or doors, or even a curtain rod. Get tips on hanging stuff on your walls here.
Tip-Proof a Christmas Tree
To make a Christmas tree stand more firmly on deep, spongy carpet, set the stand on a piece of 1/4-in. hardboard (a.k.a. Masonite). 4 x 8-ft. sheets are available at home centers (some home centers also have 4 x 4-ft. sheets). To make the tree tip-proof, bolt the tree stand to the hardboard using 1/4-in. pan head machine screws. On wood or tile floors, cover the screwheads with duct tape so they don't scratch the floor. Get more ideas for protecting your home year-round here.
Should You Plant a Live Christmas Tree?
Planting a 'live' Christmas tree is an ambitious task. Its practicality depends on three things: (1) the climate you live in; (2) the size of your Christmas tree budget; and (3) how strong you are.
Live trees are sensitive. For a tree to have any chance of survival, it can't undergo extreme climatic changes. When a tree is brought into a warm home, it will react as if it's spring and start growing. Once it has entered this growing stage, it will likely die if it suffers through a prolonged freeze when it's set out after Christmas.
If you live in a moderate climate, a live tree is feasible. When the Christmas season is over, gradually get your tree accustomed to the outdoors by storing it in the garage or three-season porch before planting it. The time for heavy frost must be past before you take it outside. When you finally plant your tree, place it in well-drained soil where it will get full sun.
If you live in a cold climate, a live tree really isn't practical. You'd need to leave it outside on a screen porch or deck the entire time so it would stay more or less dormant. And you probably don't want your ornaments outside.
Live trees are expensive. Expect to pay two to three times more than you would for a cut tree. Usually these trees are potted. If your tree is balled and burlapped, you'll have to buy a heavy-duty pot to act as both stand and container.
Finally, live trees are heavy. If you want a typical-sized Christmas tree, say a six-footer, together the pot, soil and tree will weigh 250 lbs. or more. Add a little water and moving it will be about as much fun as hefting a piano.
When you do decide to plant the tree, follow our expert tree-planting advice here.
All About Christmas Tree Safety
Keep your Christmas tree fire-safe by keeping it watered. Buy it fresh, pull light plugs overnight, and keep it well away from candles and fireplaces. Click for more fire prevention tips.
Lazy Susan Tree Stand for Wood Floors
Easy Bolt Tightening
Tip-Proof, Drip-Proof Lazy Susan for Carpet
Hook for Tall Trees
Putting up and taking down holiday lights in a tall outdoor tree can be tricky. The easiest method we've found is to use a paint roller extension pole with a hook on the end. You can use a wire coat hanger or other heavy-gauge wire. Just embed it in the pole threads, bend the wire up into a hook and secure it with duct tape to keep the hook from sliding around the pole.