How to choose the perfect Christmas tree, and how to decorate it

Festive Decorators Christmas tree Liverpool
Festive Decorators Christmas tree
Samuel Lyle, owner of Pines and Needles, knows a thing or two about choosing and caring for your Christmas tree.
He’s provided Harry and Meghan’s tree and promotes Christmas with a conscience planting more than 250,000 trees in Africa through TreeAid.
He says while a lot of Christmas traditions moved with the times, the ceremony of putting up the tree was still cast in stone. “Traditionally people have always put them up the first or second weekends of December and that’s very much still the case – our main spike leans toward the first weekend with the low or non-drop trees always the favourite.
“However, we still find that people aren’t aware of the care their tree needs,” he explains. “Cutting the bottom 3cms off your tree once you get it home is vital, as is watering it. Trees need around three pints of water a day, especially if the central heating is on full blast.”
Arguably the biggest change in Samuel’s business since he started it 20 years ago is the extra services customer demand.
“Our recycling pick-up service grows every year,” he says. “More and more people want us to take down the decorations, remove the tree, sweep up and leave no trace so they can embrace the New Year. January 6 is therefore hugely busy for us because that’s Twelfth Night, another tree tradition that shows no sign of changing.”

Samuel’s tips to look after your Christmas tree:

  1. Prepare the trunk
    Just before you install your tree, saw off the bottom 1” (3cm) of the trunk. This creates a fresh cut and opens up the pores in the bark, which otherwise can block up with sap within a few hours of being cut. The tree is then able to drink water through these pores via capillary action. We do this to all our trees so you don’t have to! 
  2. They need routine
    Do not expose your tree to sudden changes in temperature. Trees like most people are creatures of habit and prefer steady conditions.
  3. Keep it away from any heat sources
    Position your Christmas tree away from any heat sources such as radiators and fireplaces. Heat dries out your tree faster, so the further from potentially damaging heat sources the better, and the fresher your tree will remain.
  4. Water your tree
    Place your tree in plain water – not soil or sand which would block the pores in the bark. This is best achieved by using a specially designed Christmas tree stand. Many precious hours can be wasted trying to make a Christmas Tree stand up straight in an ordinary bucket using just bricks or stones!
  5. Then keep on watering it
    Keep the Christmas tree stand topped up with water. Your Christmas tree may drink 2-3 pints (1-2 litres) of water per day, depending on its size and your central heating settings. This is very important as once the water level drops below the tree’s trunk, sap will re-seal the bark within a few hours, preventing the tree from drinking any further water even if you then re-fill the Christmas tree stand.
    Be aware that these trees are natural living things, and once they are cut they begin to die, sad as this is apart from artificial trees we are still without a solution to this simple fact of life. Time the arrival of your tree with this in mind to increase longevity and get the most out of it.
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Real vs Fake?

Of course the manufacturing process of artificial trees uses more energy and materials but if you use your artificial tree for more than 10 years it offsets the carbon footprint.
Real gives you the incredible smell, the bragging rights and the opportunity to choose a different tree each year. It’s something the whole family can get involved in – a great way to start the festivities.
Artificial fans will crow about how they only had to visit the loft to pick theirs up, and that it costs them nothing year after year. If you’re a fan of the no-needle-out-of-place look, you may want to simply get on with the job of decorating it.

How to decorate your tree like the professionals 

Five steps to the perfect Christmas tree from Vicky Lally at The Festive Decorators, based in Aintree.
  1. Start off by choosing the perfect spot for your Christmas tree where it will be seen and enjoyed for the festive period. It is best to put it in a place you are going to see it instead of it being behind you and great to make it a wow factor when you enter a room.
  2. Choose colours that compliment your room. A colour clash can spoil the effect of a room. A contrast is fine but a complete clash of colours can spoil the whole effect. Novelty trees can also be co-ordinated to fit a colour scheme as well.Make sure your tree, whether real or artificial, is opened fully and that the lights are evenly spread around the tree. It is not worth waiting until you have dressed your tree to discover that the lighting is not right.
  3. For a luxury feel to a tree we then ribbon the trees using the branches to wrap around the ribbon. We use good quality stock and this gives the trees a glamorous look and adds in some lovely texture.
  4. Next we add baubles, packing the tree out and filling in the gap, we then add flowers and props (depending on the theme) to finish off the tree. It depends on personal preference what you have on the top. We can co-ordinate a luxurious festive explosion for the top, or some clients prefer a star or an angel.
  5. Sit back with your favourite tipple and a mince pie and enjoy!