If there is one thing I am ABSOLUTELY not qualified to comment on... it is choosing the perfect Christmas tree. The first year after David and I got married, we left Christmas tree buying to the very last minute and ended up getting it from a place at the end of the road that seemed to be the only place still selling them! We were lucky that year, and actually ended up getting a decent deal and a lovely tree - but it was pure chance!
The next year we headed to Norway for Christmas, so didn't bother with a tree. 2010 was even more disastrous as we bought our tree down at the roundabout at the end of the road (again, it was a last minute buy and we were desperate.) We made the fatal error of buying a tree already netted up... got it home, unwrapped it and took it straight back again. It was half a tree, with the other half hacked off it seemed. We did replace it and got an OK tree, but I had to turn it to a certain direction so you wouldn't see the back which seemed to have great chunks lopped out of it. That year we were NOT so lucky!
Last year, we again left tree buying to the last minute, and for some bizarre reason returned to the tree-hacking florist to buy the pre-packed trees and returned with a similarly OK tree, but missing that lovely christmassy smell.
This year, I am determined to turn a new leaf in our tree-search. I am planning on buying it early, and taking some advice on looking for a decent tree that has that amazing smell, doesn't drop a million needles and doesn't cost a small fortune... a tall order? Yes. But one I'm determined to see through.
After MUCH research, these seem to be the top tips I've come across...
1. Quality matters...
Apparently, its a bad idea to buy a pre-bagged Christmas tree... common sense, right? And yet I've made the same mistake twice... This year, I will be buying a tree that I cans see before it is netted up. That way I will know if its half hacked to pieces, or if its a weird shape, or if half the needles are hanging off it already!
2. Fresh and flexible
In all my research, I've discovered that apparently the best way to test the freshness of a Christmas tree is to run your fingers along the bottom branches. The branches should be flexible - they shouldn't feel dried out, but should bend and fling back (not snap!) Also, as you run your hand along the branches, the needles should stay on the branch. If the needles fall off easily, then the tree should be a definite no-no, as it shows its already past its best.
3. Fir, spruce or pine?
There seem to be hundreds of different types of tree, but they seem to fall into three main categories that are mainly distinguishable by their needles... firs and pines shed a small number of needles as they dry out, but a spruce will shed nearly all its needles. That doesn't mean you don't touch a spruce with a barge pole, it just means you need to keep it well watered to stop it drying out...
Then you TOTALLY need to click HERE for a fab guide on the specific type of tree you want! This site is fab for telling you what kind of tree smells nice, and looks nice and IS nice.
I'll fill you in next week on our tree developments!
Happy tree hunting!