Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature How to Shop for a Fresh Christmas Tree Share Flipboard Email Print SupportPDX/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 Animals & Nature Forestry Tree Identification Basics Arboriculture Tree Structure & Physiology The Science Of Growing Trees Conifer Species Individual Hardwood Species Pests, Diseases, and Wildfires Tree Planting and Reforestation Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Insects Marine Life Dinosaurs Evolution View More By Steve Nix Forestry Expert B.S., Forest Resource Management, University of Georgia Steve Nix is a natural resources consultant and a former forest resources analyst for the state of Alabama. He is a member of the Society of American Foresters. our editorial process Steve Nix Updated March 30, 2019 Don't select a Christmas tree until you make an inspection of the space the Christmas tree will be placed in your home. That will be a personal choice with some reminders. Your selected space should be as far away from heat sources and air ducts as possible. Take a quick measurement of Christmas tree height and width for the spot you have selected. It is a real pain to deal with a holiday tree too big for the selected space. Now let's go shop for your next Christmas tree. Fresh Christmas Tree Shopping Tips Research different Christmas tree types and pick the species that fits your situation. Look over this guide to the 10 most favorite Christmas trees but remember that only a few of these will be available in your area.Take my introductory advice on where in the house to put the Christmas tree. Avoid spots close to heat sources like TVs, fireplaces, radiators and air ducts. Measure the height you have available to avoid modifying your "too tall" Christmas tree later. Find a holiday tree one foot shorter than your ceiling height.If you are cutting a Christmas tree, you know how fresh the tree is. But when you buy a pre-cut Christmas tree, the tree may have been cut weeks earlier. Always try and find your Christmas tree early and before the best trees have been sold. Delaying your cut Christmas tree purchase only increases its exposure to harmful elements. Don't be shy; ask the retailer how long his/her Christmas trees have been cut. You might also want to look into purchasing your tree online, where shipped trees are guaranteed cut fresh.Choose a fresh Christmas tree by looking for the greenest tree with the fewest brown needles. A problem here can be that many shipped-to-lot trees have been colored prior to shipping. With this in mind, remember that coloring is a common practice and will not negatively affect a tree's freshness.Perform the "drop test". Raise the Christmas tree a few inches and drop on its butt end. Green needles should not drop off. If they do, you have a tree with excessive drying and that may have been cut for some time. Some species have excellent needle retention so remember that when choosing a variety. A few inner brown needles from the tree's annual shed will drop off so do not be concerned with this.The most important thing to remember is freshness when selecting a real Christmas tree. The needles should be resilient. Another important check is to take hold of a branch and lightly pull your hand toward you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Most, if not all, of the needles need to stay on the tree.Look for and avoid Christmas trees with a wilted or grayish blue-green look. Even with color added you can visually see wilt and desiccation. Look and feel for any unusual stiffness and brittleness of a tree's limbs, twigs, and needles, all of which can be indications of an "old" tree.Always inspect the Christmas tree's base. Make sure the "handle" (the first eight inches of butt) of the tree is relatively straight. This part of the tree is extremely important when securing the tree in a stand. Make sure removing any limbs attached to the "handle" won't hurt the tree shape.Always check a Christmas tree for insects and egg masses before bringing inside. Most retailers have "shakers" that remove debris from trees. In any event, make sure dead needles and trash are shaken out or blown from the tree.