How Christmas Trees Work

Choosing the Right Tree for You

A tiny skier among several Colorado Blue Spruce trees. Could he be looking for the perfect Christmas tree?
Marc Muench/Getty Images

­There are several ways for you to get a fresh Christmas tree:

  • Go to a r­etail lot in your area and select one that has been cut already.
  • Order a tree online, over the phone or by mail.
  • Go to a cut-your-own farm and select one. There are more than 12,000 cut-your-own farms in the United States. At a cut-your-own farm, you usually will have the option of letting someone who works on the farm do the actual chopping.
  • Go into your own woods (or some place where you have permission) and cut down a tree yourself. Although this does seem like a nice idea, it really isn't a great choice. It isn't good for the environment, and you could be bringing unwanted pests into your home.

­You might ask yourself a couple of questions before you decide on a tree. Do you have lots of heavy ornaments? A fir tree with its sturdy branches will hold up those treasured decorations. Or do you simply string plain white Christmas lights around your tree with bows and popcorn? A pine tree would be a good choice for lighter decorations like these.


Decide where you want to place the tree before you buy it. That way, you'll know how big a tree you can get. It is good to allow about 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) to remain between your tree and the ceiling. If you forget to take your measuring tape to the farm or tree lot, ask an attendant for help. You don't want to bring home a tree that doesn't fit. If you are placing your tree in a corner or against the wall, keep in mind that the more perfect the tree, the higher the price. So if you can have a bad side, or two, you will have more money left over for the tinsel and lights.

Here are some things you might want to consider when you look for a tree:

  • That perfect shape that you have in your head
  • The density of the branches on the trunk
  • The smell of the fresh needles and bark
  • The texture of the branches
  • The durability of the tree, especially if you want to leave it up for a long time

Among the best-selling Christmas trees are the Douglas, Fraser, Noble and Balsam firs, and the Scotch, Virginia and white pine trees. You might be among the growing number of people who choose a living tree. One of the most popular trees for this is the Colorado blue spruce.

On the next page, we'll look at different types of Christmas trees.