How Christmas Trees Work

Christmas Tree Freshness

A worker rests after collecting Nordman fir trees wrapped in netting on a trailer on Nov. 8, 2007 near Reading, England.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

­When selecting your tree, there are a few things that you can do to gauge the fr­eshness. First, be aware of your surroundings. If you are on a retail lot, look around you and see what kind of care they are giving to the trees.

  • Are the trees displayed in stands that hold water?
  • Are trees that are still baled being protected from the wind and sun?
  • Do the lot attendants put a fresh cut on the tree?
  • Are they tying the tree down correctly? (If they are tying the tree to the top of your automobile, be sure that the butt of the tree is at the front end of your car.)

As you walk through the lot, you can stop to gently run your hand down a branch or two. Very few needles should come off the tree if it is fresh. Also, for fir trees, the needles should break crisply when bent. If they are pliable and do not snap with pressure, then the tree might not be taking up water. If you can, ask the lot attendant to shake the tree on its stump. It is normal for brown needles from the interior of the tree to fall. However, if you see an excess of green needles falling, pick another tree.