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Holiday Decorating Ideas

6 Tips for Live Christmas Trees

The ultimate guide to buying, caring, taking down, and tree-cycling your Christmas tree.

By Nicole Sforza
Potted evergreen treeJames Wojcik

Light It Right

For the easiest way to put on and remove lights, go vertical. Start at the bottom, continuously weaving lights up toward the top of the tree and back down to the base. LEDs use at least 75 percent less energy than traditional lights and last a whopping 25 times longer. Some people still prefer the glow of old-school varieties, but if you’re ready to make the money-saving change, try Invisilites (like the Warm White 96 LED Invisilite; $36,, tiny bulbs on a wire so thin, it disappears into the tree.

Health and Welfare

You already know that you should keep a tree away from heat sources (vents, fireplaces, woodstoves), both for fire safety and staying power, but you may not know that a tree needs to “drink” about a gallon of water every day. Check the water level daily; the trunk’s cut surface should never be exposed to air. Plain tap water is best. (Skip the chemicals and the homespun add-ins.)

The Takedown

Find out if your area offers curbside tree recycling and time the (dreaded) task of removal accordingly. When the day comes, ladle water out of the stand, using a turkey baster for the last licks. Nothing beats the plastic-tree-bag-under-the-tree-skirt for an exit strategy. (Try the Christmas-tree removal bag; $3.50, Sweep up needles rather than vacuuming; they can clog the machine.

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Quick Tip

Blue ice cube tray

A few days before a party, start making ice and storing it in baggies in the freezer.