Keep your tree and home in tip-top shape this year

These nine tips seek to maintain your home’s holiday centerpiece while also minimizing mess.

© Ramil Gibadullin

Though artificial Christmas trees are certainly easier to set up and take down, there’s just something about having a real tree in your home that makes the holidays feel a little more magical. Regardless of whether you consider yourself a seasoned professional or if this is your home’s first go-round with a real tree, here’s what you need to know.

Getting Started

If the tree has been cut for more than six hours, the end of the trunk needs to be recut to allow proper water intake before placing the tree in the stand. But before you quench your tree’s thirst, make sure to place an absorbent mat or plastic sheet under the tree stand.

Note that your tree should be watered daily to prevent needles from falling and branches from drooping. As the East River Nursery points out, how much hydration your tree needs depends upon the tree’s size, species and freshness, so it’s best to check your tree once in the morning, once at night and add water as needed.


According to the National Fire Protection Association, 40 percent of Christmas tree fires involve the equipment used to light it. To avoid falling into that 40 percent, keep open flames far away from the tree, only leave the lights on while individuals are home and make sure to turn the lights off before heading to bed.

It’s also important to read the labels on the lights that you are using to make sure that they have passed laboratory tests for safety assessments and are meant for indoor versus outdoor use. Other tips advise users to steer clear of lights with frayed cords and replace bulbs only if the new bulbs are the correct wattage.

Take Down

Once the holiday has passed, though some people may want to hold on a little longer, Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue recommends promptly disposing of trees—once dried, they quickly become a fire hazard. Proving this point, 37 percent of Christmas tree fires occur in January, when trees are at their driest.

Upon removal, to cut back on the number of needles you will find throughout your house, consider placing a Christmas tree bag around the tree.

Once outside, you can either chop the tree and make use of the wood, or you can check your local recycling center for pick-up or drop-off dates and times. The recycled trees can be made into mulch that locals could pick up from the Loudoun County Solid Waste Management Facility.

Another option is to put the tree in the backyard, allowing animals to add it to their natural habitat. If you’re set on this animal-friendly approach, consider hanging bird food from the branches.