Every year, the kids (OK fine, grown-ups too) can’t wait to decorate the Christmas tree and after spending the holidays social distancing last year, the anticipation for this winter’s greenery is higher than ever. That’s why we turned to the yuletide fir experts (yep, they exist) to find out the best time to buy your Christmas tree and how to keep it looking fresh until the new year.

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Bell on a Christmas Tree
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When to Buy Your Tree

“We suggest that families shop early,” says Ann O’Connor from the National Christmas Tree Association. If kept watered, your Christmas tree should last four to five weeks. That means that the weekend after Thanksgiving is typically the best time to start looking for a tree, however, this year you may want to start shopping for firs a little earlier than normal...and you definitely won't want to put this yuletide task off for too long.

With all the pent-up holiday energy and angst caused by the pandemic, the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) says Christmas trees are in high demand more than ever. "With extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest and supply chain issues in the U.S., this is not the year to buy a Christmas tree last minute," the organization advises those on the market for an artificial tree. "Merry shoppers will deck the halls for Halloween, Thanksgiving and every day in between this season."

Those who are opting for a real tree have a little more wiggle room, however. "Thanksgiving weekend is the beginning of Christmas tree sales for many farms and tree lots and is a good time to purchase a tree," says Tim O'Connor, also of the National Christmas Tree Association. "There aren’t supply chain issues with real trees as they are grown here in the U.S. and Canada."

But getting your hands on a tree isn't the only problem you may be facing this year. You also have to get ready to spend some extra dough. Though the average cost of a tree was around $104 in 2019, this year, consumers can expect 26 percent uptick in some markets, says ACTA, bringing the average cost to about $131. Eek!

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

So, you decided to go with a live tree and want to make sure it lives through the holiday season. O'Connor recommends you 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. She says, “The really important thing is to check the water daily to make sure it never runs out.”

hand decorating chirstmas tree
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How to Decorate a Christmas Tree

So the Frasier Fir you picked out in a dimly lit tree lot seemed great—until you put it up in your house and realized it had more gaping holes in it than the 70-footer holding court at Rockefeller Center last year. Here are some Christmas tree decorating ideas to get you started.

The Best Artificial Christmas Trees to Buy

CRATE AND BARREL

1. CRATE AND BARREL Faux Hemlock Pre-Lit LED Christmas Tree with White Lights 9'

Buy It ($699)

CRATE AND BARREL

2. CRATE AND BARREL Faux Balsam Fir Pre-Lit LED Christmas Tree with White Lights 7.5'

Buy It ($599)

Home Depot

3. STERLING 7.5 ft. Indoor Pre-Lit Narrow Nordic Fir Artificial Christmas Tree with 400 Clear Lights

Buy It ($151)

Home Depot

4. COSTWAY White Pre-Lit Flocked Artificial Christmas Tree with 600 Tips

Buy It ($179)

Home Depot

5. Home Depot 8 ft. Artificial Christmas Tree Snow Flocked Hinged Tree with Red Berries

Buy It ($119)

Home Depot

6. COSTWAY 7 ft. Green Pre-Lit PVC Spruce Hinged Artificial Christmas Tree with 700 Lights

Buy It ($229)

Home Depot

7. CHRISTMAS TIME 7.5 ft. White Pine Snowy Artificial Christmas Tree with Clear Smart String Lighting

Buy It ($249)

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