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How to Keep a Cut Christmas Tree Fresh

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels

Even with all the complicated emotions the year has brought, in our little corner of the Midwest, there’s still a feeling of excitement and anticipation as we get closer to Christmas. Light posts on the town square are covered in greenery and bows, while strings of lights happily criss-cross over Main Street. Shop windows glitter with lights and decorations, and as I open the heavy door to the makers’ market, a small shop of local, handmade items, the scent of cinnamon and balsam stirs up heartfelt memories. A shop filled with homemade soaps, beeswax candles, and all kinds of handmade wares, soon, my shopping is done. I step back outside and find the December air hits me with a blast; however, the clean, fresh air feels good, cheers my heart, and I’m off to wrap secret surprises to tuck under the tree.

I continue to read that this year has been one of record sales for live Christmas trees. Understandably, Christmas trees spark something magic in all of us, and with a year such as this, families want to make the holidays as special as possible. The adventure of bringing home a live tree makes for great family fun — and I say adventure, because for our family, that’s exactly what it is!

Each year we bundle up and drive to our favorite tree farm, walking through the acres of woods looking for the “perfect” tree, which is usually the first one we saw — you know, way back at the beginning of our trek. Then comes the “who’s going to lay on the ground and cut it this year?” decision. I always bring a blanket, to help fend off the snow and/or mud that also seems to be a part of the adventure.

We walk back to the office to pay for the tree, a walk that somehow seems much longer than when we started out, and then tie the tree to the top of the car (again, another memory in the making). Lastly, when we’re home, as expected, we find it barely squeezes through the door and always brushes the ceiling. It doesn’t matter; the scent soon fills the room and it begins to work its magic.

If, like so many others this year, you’ve got your eye on a live tree, it seems like the perfect time to share some how-to’s we’ve learned over the years for keeping your tree green and safe through the season. Even if it’s already decorated keeping the last three steps in mind will ensure it lasts longer for you to enjoy. 

Timing. While many trees are bought in November, a fresh tree is best bought a couple of weeks to even a few days before Christmas, as it will begin to dry out as soon as it’s cut.

Buy the freshest tree you can find. If you can cut it down yourself, that’s great! If you’re buying a pre-cut one at a local lot, ask how long they’ve been there…many times it’s been several weeks.

As soon as you get the tree home, cut off a couple of inches from the trunk so it can begin to take in water. Aftera tree has been cut, the sap immediately starts to seal off the cut, keeping it from absorbing moisture back into the tree.

After the tree has been cut, place it into a deep tree stand then fill the stand with warm water. Cold water will seal off the cut base again, so be sure to add enough warm water to cover the cut. Check daily to see that the stand is still filled with water…this helps keep the tree as fresh as possible.

Keep the tree away from any heat sources: fireplaces, heating vents, space heaters. Any heat will cause the tree to dry out quickly and they can be a fire hazard.

After the season is over, and all the decorations are tucked away, recycle your tree! Lots of communities will offer free recycling turning the trees into mulch for next spring’s gardens. Or, if like us and you live in the country, simply place it in the woods as a winter hideaway for wildlife.

During this season, there will be familiar traditions, as well as new ones. Make it a holiday to remember. Hold hands, laugh, take pictures, and call friends & family. And after the last song has been sung and the last cookie eaten, step outside…enjoy the silence of a cold December sky and the stars shining down. A blessed holiday season from our family to yours.


Mary Murray is a Midwest farm girl who enjoys the simple pleasures of living in the country. “For us, living where there is plenty of room for gardens, animals, and for kids to play and explore is the best kind of life.” Visit Windy Meadows Farm and read all of Mary’s GRIT posts here.

Published on Dec 18, 2020

Grit Magazine

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