I remember going to the Christmas Tree Lot as a young girl, torn between my love of aesthetic perfection (which led to my career as an interior designer) and the unwillingness to “hurt any of the trees’ feelings.” Now, with my own home as well as the homes of a substantial client-list to select trees for, I have mostly gotten over “hurt tree feelings,” although I don’t always rule a tree out just because it isn’t “perfect.”
Rather, I have become very adept at selecting the perfect Christmas tree for the space.
Select the Perfect Christmas Tree For the Space
Here are some of the things I take into consideration, and you can as well, to select the best tree for this year’s holiday decorations.
Real or synthetic. Sometimes the lifestyle of the family is as important as the look and size of the tree. If your family has a hard time keeping house plants alive, and abhors vacuuming up all those dead Christmas tree needles as a result of forgotten waterings – it might be time to invest in a synthetic tree. Today’s options are hard to tell from the real thing unless you get up close and personal and it they are easy to put up – and take down – each year. If environmental sustainability is important for you, however, they aren’t necessarily the ideal.
Keep in mind that a synthetic tree is not biodegradable, is (mostly) made in China and will sit in a landfill for an indefinite amount of time when you’re done with it. The average lifespan of synthetic trees is about six years and a 2009 study stated that when all is said and done, “the artificial tree…has three times more impact on climate change and resource depletion than the natural tree.”
The right size. On average, a Christmas Tree has an 80% “taper,” so a tree that is 10-feet tall will be 8-feet wide at the base. Try to remember that proportion if you’re measuring trees that are bundled. Start by measuring the maximum width you can accommodate in your living space and then match the height accordingly.
Also, keep in mind that taller trees are more expensive – sometimes significantly so. Thus, if budget or width accommodation is an issue, I recommend converting an old flat trunk, or a couple of end tables pushed together as a way to elevate a shorter tree that needs a little boosting. You can also use concrete blocks and a piece of plywood, making sure to create a big enough base.
Then, place your Christmas tree in its stand on top of the platform and use a white sheet or that cotton, snow-like material that abounds this time of year, to hide the foundation. Finish it off with a nice Christmas tree skirt. Now you’ve gained a more impressive tree and have a fabulous space below the lowest boughs to pile your wrapped presents and gift bags to boot. Plus, elevated bottom branches are protected from wee ones and chew-happy pets.
Choose the right type. There are a range of tree species used for Christmas trees. You can consult the National Christmas Tree Association’s website to research the specifics. Some have short, upright needles with sturdy branches (Noble Fir) while others have softer, deep green needles and more dense branching (Douglas Fir). The choice is up to you so explore a bit and settle on a species that appeals.
Do a branch test. Don’t just go on looks alone; the dryer the tree, the sooner it will die in your living room. Run your hands (preferably gloved) along the branch. If needles fall off readily and/or the branch is brittle and dry at the ends, skip it and wait for one that is suppler and will last longer with regular watering.
The holidays are right around the corner, and it’s not easy for busy families and professionals to decorate their homes the way they want to. If you’re feeling pressed for time, or are hosting holiday gatherings this year, schedule a consultation with an interior designer near you to take over the holiday decorating, or help you add those finishing touches to your own design.