How to pick a glorious Christmas tree

Some put up their tree for RTE’s Late Late Toy Show but this weekend is Christmas tree prime time for the majority. As we head into the busiest weekend for buying Christmas trees of the year here is some info you can impress your Christmas tree seller with on why we put them up.

As Judith Flanders explains in her excellent 2017 book “Christmas: A History” the concept probably derived from the “paradise tree” which appeared in medieval plays, and was then adopted by 15th-century Germany – first by the elites, and then the hoi polloi – that is, you and me – got involved, and then German immigrants brought the tree tradition to America and the magic grew from there.

Whether you’re that person who wants the most humongous, swanky tree in your neighbourhood or you’ve been hauling down from the attic the same trusty fake for decades – every Christmas trees brings joy.

If you are thinking of skipping it this year due to lack of funds keep in mind that size means nothing.

Because even the wee potted ones you can buy in the supermarket for fifteen euro ; they punch well above their weight in the happiness giving stakes.

It’s hard to remain grumpy sitting there sipping your tea and drinking in all the sparkle.

Last year in Ireland there was an estimated 600,00 trees sold and this year Christmas tree sellers are telling us they have been even busier. It is early days yet but according to Karen Morton, who runs Killakee Christmas tree farm in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains with her family, more people are telling her they are buying real ones for the first time this year.

Where will you get your tree? You could go to one of the many Christmas tree farms dotted around the country for a magical experience, you could order a tree from one of the many selling online (expect around 15 euro delivery fee), or pick one up from the side of the road. They all come from the same Christmas tree farms and are all felled around the end of November. Average prices seem to be 60 euro for a 7 foot tree which would fit in an average home but like GP appointments the price does vary a bit around the country. Karen has been flogging trees for nearly twenty years so we asked her for her tips on how to bag a good one.

Karen Morton’s top tips for buying the perfect tree

  1. Measure the space – Trees always look smaller until you bring them indoors! Bring a measuring tape with you. Remember to allow for the height of your stand.
  2. Decide what shape you would like.  Will you see all sides?
  3.  Do you want a shedding or non-shedding species? Are you putting the tree outdoors or indoors? If it’s going outdoors you can choose any variety. People prefer to choose non-shed varieties to avoid mess if indoors. Non shed varieties include Nordmann Fir and Noble Fir. 
  4. What colour branches do you like? Do you prefer a rich glossy green tree (Nordmann Fir) or do you prefer a bluey/silvery shade tree (Noble Fir)?
  5. Consider your decorations If you have valuable glass decorations for example a Noble Fir tree has the strongest branches and are ideal to keep precious decorations safe. If you have lots to display, a Nordmann Fir tree has lots of branches to accommodate all your favourite decorations.
  6. Do you have a stand for your Christmas tree from last year? Dig it out before visiting the farm to make sure you don’t need one and if it’s an unusual size you may want to bring your stand with you to have the tree cut to fit it. The best ones for the tree are the water-based ones.
  7. Check the freshness – the fresher the tree the longer it will last. If there is still sap on it, it’s freshly cut. Check the needles are not falling off.  Most Christmas trees in Ireland are felled end November and will see you through to first week in January. So freshness won’t generally be an issue. That is unless you want to leave her standing till February. Which is…totally understandable!

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