5 tips for picking and preserving your Christmas tree

“Dehydration is the enemy.”

Quinn Gregory, of New York, right, helps Alex Woodruff, of Brighton, select the perfect Christmas tree on Nov. 26, 2017, at Boston Christmas Trees.
Quinn Gregory, of New York, right, helps Alex Woodruff, of Brighton, select the perfect Christmas tree on Nov. 26, 2017, at Boston Christmas Trees. –Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

When it’s time to deck the halls, no home is complete without a Christmas tree at its center. To ensure your ornaments will be hung on a tree that looks and smells its best — not to mention one that will last through December — look no further than these five tips, courtesy of Chris Gregory, a partner at the veteran-owned tree lot Boston Christmas Trees in Allston.  

Go to the lot prepared.
A tree’s No. 1 need? Water. Not only should you buy your tree a stand in advance, Gregory said, but you should bring that stand with you to the Christmas tree lot to make sure your tree of choice fits into it.

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Give the trees a squeeze.
Obviously, you want to choose a fresh tree. In order to do so, “with your bare hand, take and squeeze a handful of needles and see if it’s cold,” Gregory said. “If it is, it means there’s water in there.” If not, the tree isn’t so fresh — move on. “Dehydration is the enemy,” Gregory said.

Get your tree into water immediately.
After you make your purchase and especially if your tree is on the larger side, allow the lot workers to tie it to your car so you don’t scratch the paint off, Gregory said. Then, even if you plan to leave your tree on the porch or in the garage for a day or two, place it in the stand with water as soon as you possibly can to avoid drying it out. “When you put it in the stand, look at the bottom,” Gregory said. “Take a knife and score the bark where it’s going to be underwater.” This helps the tree to better absorb water.

Consider location, location, location.
“Those trees are fragrant; they have a big scent in the house,” Gregory said. “The thing is, they’re giving off a scent because they’re giving off moisture. Keep them hydrated or they won’t smell good for long.” In order to do so, think about what you’re placing the tree next to in the living room to make sure you’re not unintentionally dehydrating it. “If you put them right beside a radiator, turn the radiator off. If you put them next to a window near sunlight, pull the shade down,” Gregory said. For additional hydration, spray your tree with a little mist once a day, or more often if you can.

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Light it up in moderation.
Once your tree is decorated, consider how often you want to keep it lit. Regular iridescent bulbs give off heat, which will soak up the tree’s moisture and shorten its lifespan. You might also consider LEDs, which Gregory said don’t give off heat and last longer.

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