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O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how dried-up are thy branches. It’s a yuletide pickle: The kids (OK fine, grown-ups too) can’t wait to decorate the tree, but buy it too early and you’ll spend the festive season sweeping up a gazillion pine needles, or buy it too late and there won’t be any good trees left. That’s why we turned to Christmas Tree expert (yep, it’s a thing) Ann O’Connor from the National Christmas Tree Association to find out the best time to buy your tree and how to keep it looking fresh until the new year.

RELATED: 17 Christmas Decorating Ideas We Bet You Haven’t Thought Of

Bell on a Christmas Tree
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When to Buy Your Tree

“We suggest that families shop early,” says O'Connor. If kept watered, your Christmas tree should last four to five weeks. “The weekend after Thanksgiving through to the following weekend is a great time,” she advises. That’s when there will be plenty of choices, and with proper care, your tree will be sure to last all season. (Hey, maybe lugging a tree home will burn off some of that pie.)

Family picking out a tree on Christmas tree farm
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How to Spot a Good Tree

While you’re shopping, ensure the tree is fresh by making sure the needles bend in your fingers and don’t break, advises O’Connor. Then, once you’ve found the perfect pine, have your retailer make a new cut, about half an inch off the stump.

Christmas tree and presents in decorated living room
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How to Keep Your Tree Looking Its Best

At home, get your tree into water as soon as possible or make another cut if it’s going to sit out dry for a while. This ensures the tree can take in water to remain fresh. O’Connor says, “The really important thing is to check the water daily to make sure it never runs out.”

hand decorating chirstmas tree
Twenty20

One More Thing

Now that you have the perfect tree, time to spruce that baby up. Here are some ideas to get you started. 

RELATED: HOW TO STRING LIGHTS ON A CHRISTMAS TREE

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