It's arguably the biggest Christmas decoration you'll put up and it'll be around for weeks, so how do you choose a good one? Well, according to professional forester Steve Nix, like this:
Perform a "freshness test"
Take hold of a branch and pull your hand toward you, allowing the
branch to slip through your fingers. Most, if not all, of the needles
should stay on the tree.
Lifting and dropping the tree on a hard surface should not result in a shower of green needles. Brown needles that have shed the previous year are OK to shed. The tree should have a fragrance and rich green color. Branches should be pliable and bend without much resistance.
Now you've got your perfect tree, how do you keep it fresh and happy?
Well, as soon as you get it home saw a few inches off the bottom and whack it in water quick. Christmas tree's 'seal' cuts with resin and that means they're less likely to draw up the water they need to keep fresh. Use a tree holder that can hold about a gallon of water. You can expect the tree to gulp up additional water, water the new tree until water uptake stops. Then all you need to do is keep the water level topped up; if the cut gets dry then that resin seal will form and the tree will stop taking water in. Brown, droopy trees... not so festive.
Incidentally, I might be the only person on the planet who HASN'T seen A Charlie Brown Christmas, a situation I intend to remedy this coming weekend after my own tree goes up. I'm ridiculously excited.
Image from BHG