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How to Buy a Christmas Tree in New York City

Buying a Christmas tree can be a fun-filled and exciting experience. Braving the cold New York weather and heading out to your local Christmas tree stand with the family (or roommates!) is a tradition that no one should miss out on. When buying a Christmas tree in NYC, there are a few tips you should keep in mind and some questions you should ask. When buying a Christmas tree in the city you need to be aware of how the trees are taken care of and where they came from; knowing about the quality and health of the trees is paramount to getting a good deal and buying a good tree.

Questions you should ask your Christmas tree salesperson:

1) How do you keep your trees hydrated?

Lots of tree stand operators have no plan for keeping their trees hydrated—this is okay if they receive weekly deliveries of trees that are being cut fresh from the farm. If the Christmas tree salesperson only receives one or two large shipments for the whole month, they should have an irrigation system in place or some way to water the trees regularly to prevent needle loss and decay.

Lightly misting the trees on a weekly basis or keeping their bases in water or watered soil are acceptable ways of keeping trees hydrated. Do not let them tell you that the tree does not need to be watered. Once the tree is cut, it needs to be watered.

2) When were these trees cut?

The most important thing to look at when buying a tree is its freshness. From the time a Christmas tree is cut, it starts to die—the more fresh the tree is and the more recently it was cut, the longer it will hold on to its fresh scent and needles.

Tree stand operators can keep trees fresher longer by keeping them in moist soil or water and by keeping them away from heavy wind, sun or high heat.

Things you should check out when buying a Christmas tree:

1) Look at the base of the tree

The base of the tree should be straight, not curved – this seems like a no-brainer, but this simple step is often overlooked, which can lead to headaches later on. If a tree is not straight from the base, the tree seller should cut the base to a straight point (shortening the tree).

2) Pull on the needles

Pull on the needles of the tree–they should not come off with a light pull—if they do, the tree is dehydrated and will not last long in your home (it will also make a mess!). Try the needles on a few different branches at different parts of the tree, they should all easily stay on.

3) Get a “fresh cut” on the base of your tree

This step is imperative to keeping your tree alive and well! Make sure the Christmas tree seller uses a saw to cut off a section from the base of your tree—this section does not need to be large, just enough to expose a fresh layer of wood. With a fresh cut at the base of your tree, the tree will be able to take in water. Many times, tree sellers forget to make the fresh cut on a Christmas tree and the tree dies within a week.