Ding, ding, a ding,

Ding, ding, a ding...


It's time to get a Christmas tree! The family and I are headed to the woods tomorrow to pick out this year's tree. Well, actually, we're headed to the Christmas tree farm, but we will cut the tree ourselves and haul it home for decorating. If you like having a live tree and live near a tree farm (or have your own patch of woods,) I highly recommend the freshly cut tree. 


It's a little harder to gauge freshness when you buy a tree from a tree lot, but it's not impossible. To get a better understanding of what to ask when buying a Christmas tree, I talked to Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. Here are Woroch's tips on buying a live Christmas tree:


1. Ask where it came from. Some Christmas tree lots buy trucked-in trees before Thanksgiving, meaning they'll drop needles faster than airlines can raise their baggage fees. Weeks may have passed since those trees were originally cut, so always ask the vendor where and when they buy their trees.


2. Check for freshness. Is the tree green and healthy with a fragrant scent and moist, flexible needles? Does it have damaged bark or broken branches? When you bounce it lightly on the ground, does it shower you with needles?


3. Weigh it. A heavy tree — proportionate to its size — means it contains a higher water content, and is therefore fresh.


4. Buy locally grown. Is there an area farm that sells freshly cut trees? You'll still want to give them the bounce test, but just the fact they were cut on-site means the trees are fresher. Enter your ZIP code under "Find My Tree Now" on the National Christmas Tree Association's website to find your nearest provider.


5. Cut your own. It takes some effort and a good axe or saw, but there's a great deal of satisfaction in harvesting your own tree — from an approved location, of course. Finding just the right tree and tackling the job as part of a team also makes for a fun outing.


6. Buy online. You can buy anything online these days, even local trees. Companies like Christmas Trees Galore offer free shipping and you won't have to cart the tree home on top of your car. Check FreeShipping.org for delivery deals and while you're there, find free shipping offers on ornaments and other decorations.


7. Treat it tenderly. Keep the tree outside in a shaded, cool place for a couple days, preferably standing in water. Before bringing it indoors, cut half an inch or so off the butt end to open up its pores, much as you would with cut roses. Once inside, remember to keep the tree stand topped up with water each day. For more information about caring for your live tree, check out The Ohio University's Extension Fact Sheet.


Also on MNN: 

How to buy a Christmas tree
Expert tips on bringing home a fresh and festive tree for your holiday celebrations.