Buying a real Christmas tree

Many families are wedded to the tradition of buying and decorating a live Christmas tree in the heat of summer. In some places around New Zealand, you can even go to the plantation and select your own tree and have it cut to your specifications.

But real Christmas trees require more planning and care than an artificial tree – they need to be purchased wisely, transported and cared for before being discarded thoughtfully after December 25.

Before you buy a real Christmas tree

Make sure you follow these tips before splurging on a live Christmas tree this year:

Measure the space

Before you go shopping or hunting for that “perfect tree,” you’ll need to decide where it will fit in your home. Once a spot is chosen be sure to measure the ceiling height and the width of that space. You will also need to measure your front door width and any other narrow spaces the tree needs to get through before you take it to the required space. Write these numbers down on a piece of paper. Take the tape measure with you when you shop. You’ll need it to measure the trees you consider so you don’t take home a 3 metre tall tree if your ceilings are only 2.5 metres.

How will your tree stand up

There are all types of tree stands you can buy, but most people try to cobble together a heavy bucket or pot that will hold up the tree. The taller the tree, the bigger diameter of the trunk and the sturdier the stand needs to be. New Zealand doesn’t have a wide variety of live tree stands on the market, but the best will have some water which the tree can absorb over the Christmas summer to keep it looking fresh. Place a plastic or other waterproof covering on the floor where your tree will stand so you don’t ruin the carpet or get watermarks. If you have a very large tree or are worried about it tipping over, you could attach the tree stand to a large, flat piece of plywood to broaden the base of the tree, give it stability and further protect the floor.

Choosing the right real Christmas tree

You want a tree that offers some space between branches for decorations as well as sturdy branches tohold heavier ornaments. The tree looks better when ornaments hang straight. To test a tree, take an unbreakable ornament with you and hang it on several branches to see if there is room for it to hang straight.

How can you tell if a tree is fresh? The needles should look shiny, green, and fresh — not dry or brown. They should not fall off when you pull on a branch. Once you are home, saw off at least 2cm from the bottom of the trunk so the tree will begin to soak up water immediately. Your tree should stand perfectly vertical. When Christmas is Over, Recycle – Call your local council to find out how to recycle your tree for mulch.

How to care for your real Christmas tree

Live trees need to be replenished with water to keep them fresh and stop the leaves dropping off, in much the same way you need to keep cut flowers in vases of water. The trees tend to absorb more water in the first week or so after being cut. Place the real Christmas tree in a stand that can hold at least 4 litres of water. If the water drops below the trunk, the trunk may seal itself and not be able to absorb water. Place the tree away from sunlit windows, television sets and other heat sources as they will dry out your tree prematurely. If properly cared for your real Christmas tree should last at least 4-6 weeks before drying out and turning brown.

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her world decor and workWritten by Steph Graham

The girl you want by your side during any major life event, Steph is a decorating boss and a baking Queen. You’ll usually find her getting tipsy at a bottomless brunch, playing basketball and Insta-stalking the Hemsworth brothers.

Favourite 90s rap song: No Diggity by Blackstreet



  1. Sarah Blair December 31, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    We always had a real tree when I was a kid and I loved the smell of it, we have an artificial one now but I would love to have a real one again, maybe next year…..

  2. Gabriella Monaghan December 30, 2017 at 10:58 am

    We always had the real thing at my dad’s house and fake at my mum’s (she has allergies) I would love to have a real tree at home but there is a lot to think about and it is so much easier (and cheaper) just having the $25 one stored in the garage each year. This year we didn’t even put a tree up in till the 18th. I was pretty slack. As the kids start to get older and more aware, I will definitely be making more of an effort and may look at getting a real one in the future.

  3. Amanda Carr December 10, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    I would love to have a real Christmas tree this year we have the fake one but as a kid we always had the real thing I still remember that smell of a real one. This has some grea tips on how to care for a real tree.

  4. Shontelle Fahey December 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Great tips. We had real Christmas trees when we were younger. Loved the smell. Makes it more Christmasy. Only problem we had was that we would be watching TV and the Christmas tree would fall over and they pretty heavy and hard to get to stay upright and stand without falling.

  5. Vikki Sainsbury December 7, 2017 at 11:33 am

    We used to have real Christmas trees when I was younger, we lived on a farm so Dad could just go out and chop one down haha. We had the old bucket to stand it in, I loved the smell of pine and decorating it and it was easy to dispose of too. We live in a small apartment in the central city so we have a fake apartment tree (tall and skinny) as we have limited room and can’t really have a real one, plus disposing of it thoughtfully would be difficult. I don’t mind fake or real, whatever suits 🙂

  6. Hollie Laird December 6, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    I want a real tree every year but alas my hayfever and allergies won’t allow for one 🙁 My in-laws have a massive real tree each year though so great tips to pass on to them!

  7. Kym Moore December 2, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Wow, there’s a lot to it isn’t there?! We got one yearly to set up at a local theatre. They are beautiful, but they leak sap so are a bit sticky too. They bring a wonderful Christmas scent as well ❤️

  8. Jaqui Dyne November 15, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Oooh I definitely want a real tree this year!!! Thanks for the tips…yay christmas soon!!!

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