A little guide to choosing a real Christmas tree

Yes, that time is upon us once more – the season of over eating, over spending and general gluttony. But on the upside, it is also a time of family, gatherings and a point in the calendar when we all encourage nature inside. But choosing a Christmas tree can be tricky, especially if you leave it to the very last-minute. What sort? How big? British Grown?

There are lots of options, so – here is the little EggMag guide to choosing a real, lovely Christmas tree…

Having a real tree is a bit of tradition – the scent, the welcoming of the natural inside, the evergreen foliage. Displaying a real tree harks back to Pagan tradition and reminds us all of the fact that the sun will return and that nature is still alive and well, despite the short days and bare branches. But it also now reminds us of dropped needles (and subsequent squeals of pain when you stand on them), trying to wedge it upright, remembering to watering it… The good news is that there are lots of drop resistant varieties available – lots of which are also British grown.

If you are lucky enough to have one near you, a ‘pick your own tree’ plantation gives you the opportunity to choose your tree in situ so you can judge scale and find one that is perfect for your needs. If not, try to find one that has been grown in the UK – look at the British Christmas Tree Growers Association website for a registered grower near you.

And think about the sort of tree you would like, as each one has a different character. Blue Spruce has quite an open branched modern feel, Nordmann Firs are very needle drop resistant and quite traditional and Douglas Firs (my personal favourite) have soft, bright green fluffy foliage which is not sharp and is beautifully scented.

Size is another element which needs thought. How often have we all misjudged how tall our ceilings are, then spent the evening hacking away at the tree to get it to fit in the space? The rule here is easy. Measure the height AND width of the space you have for your tree. This is why you need to see the tree, fully exposed, before you make your purchase. Christmas trees – especially the spruces – can be short and very wide. Get one to fit your ceiling height and you will get a huge shock when you unpeel the netting and it unfurls across half your living room. If you do need to adjust the tree when you get it in, trim away branches from the bottom – never the top. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it does happen. We’ve seen it!

Also, to ensure that your tree does not look like it’s making a bid for freedom through your ceiling, try to get one that sits about 30cm below your ceiling. This also allows you a bit of leeway for your pot (which should always be waterproof to allow for a good stand of water for the tree each day).

Water your tree every day, without fail and they should last through to the New Year without going bald.

Follow these little pointers and you should have a perfect, natural tree all through the festive period – plus, when the time comes, recycle it through the excellent council run schemes across the country. Check out your local council website for locations to drop off your tree, where it will be chipped and mulched down a treat.