Choosing And Caring For Your Christmas Tree by Katherine Sorrell

We help you to make the most of your festive centrepiece.

Some prefer a real Christmas tree while others argue for artificial. We offer some arboreal insights.

Which type of real tree?

The Norway Spruce is the classic choice but can be spiky and shed needles. The very popular Nordmann Fir has an even shape, soft foliage and glossy, dark green needles that don’t drop much. The Scots Pine retains its needles and has a lovely, fresh smell, while the Fraser Fir has silvery-green foliage and soft, low-shed needles with a citrusy aroma. The Noble Fir features blueish needles with well-spaced foliage while the unusual Lodgepole Pine has bushy, upward-pointing branches and the best needle-retention of all.

Cut or container?

Freshly cut Christmas trees provide a problem when it comes to disposal, so a great alternative is a tree purpose-grown in a pot. After Christmas the tree can be moved outside until next year. It will grow but can be kept for up to three years.

Preparing for your tree-shopping trip

Measure the height and width of the space available for your tree and take a tape measure with you. Pack a pair of heavy gloves and an old blanket to catch pine needles that fall off in the boot of your car. If transporting your tree on your car’s roof, take a rope and perhaps a tarpaulin to wrap around the tree.

Picking out the best tree

Look for a symmetrical tree with evenly distributed branches. Fresh trees will boast shiny, green needles that don’t drop if you gently pull a branch. Avoid trees with dry or brown needles. Buying direct from a local grower is best.

What about artificial trees?

Modern artificial trees are incredibly realistic, though usually without the natural appearance or smell that real trees offer. An artificial can be used again and again, but consider how easily it can be stored.

Which artificial tree?

There is a huge variety of shapes and sizes on offer, and with a choice of PVC needles or PE (polyethylene) needles. Many artificial trees are pre-lit too and some are ‘frosted’ with a dusting of artificial snow.

Caring for your real tree

  • Buy your tree as late as possible.
  • Saw a small slice off the bottom of the trunk to help it to absorb water.
  • Stand the tree in a bucket of water in a cool place until you are ready to decorate it.
  • Place the tree in a cool spot, away from fires, radiators or sunny windows. Secure it in a correctly sized, sturdy stand and adjust it so it is level. Fill the reservoir with water and top up as necessary.


1   Frosted Norway spruce seven-foot artificial Christmas tree, £369.99; glitter LED Christmas bauble trio, £11.99; Osby star lights, from £7.99; champagne bow Christmas decoration, £7.99; all Lights4fun: 01423 816 040;

2   Tree decoration colours can complement the room. Gabrielle three-seater sofa, £1,099, Sofology: 03444 818 181;

3   Six-foot real-look Christmas tree, £89; wicker tree skirt, £15; decorations, from a selection; all Dunelm: 0845 165 6565;