This afternoon, I accompanied my dear friend Shilo Christmas Tree shopping :) The Home Depot nearest her home had in a new lot of trees from the farms (they have been getting new ones weekly during the holiday season). They fenced off part of the parking lot for the trees. A lot of folks were there browsing.
Having always had an artificial tree since childhood, this was a new experience for me. You walk in and realize that there are different types of trees. I noticed "Douglas Fir" and "Noble Fir". So Shilo peeked at a few trees, and saw one which looked good. So she unraveled the string that was wrapped around the tree so that the branches would hang out a bit and she could check for holes (chunks of branches missing, etc.) Looked good! Then she dragged it near the trimming & bundling tent. I stayed with the tree while she went to the cashier with the tag to pay for it. Then she had a clever idea: so unlike other customers who would drag their tree around with them in order to pay for it and get in line for the trimming, one of us could hang out with the tree next to the tent, and one could stand in line. I happily stood in line :)
When it was our turn, the Home Depot guy slung the tree onto a table and then trimmed it per Shilo's directions. I think she had him saw off a few branches on the bottom, based on her knowledge of the tree base it was going in. Then some minor trimming at the sides. Perfect! Then the tree was shoved into a netting to keep the branches bundled up tightly. Then we carried it out to her car. Having it bundled is very useful in transport :)
We unloaded the tree into Shilo's living room, and she tweaked the stabilizers of the base so that the tree would stand up straight. I thought she could immediately start putting on the ornaments, but she said it's best to let the fir settle for 2-3 days. Then once it has taken shape, can add them on.
So although Shilo didn't have to trek over to a farm and cut the tree down herself, she knew quite a bit about tree selection. Like she even knew how fresh it was based on the feel of the needles. Key criteria:
1) Type: Shilo prefers noble firs because if the needles fall on the floor, and you step on them, they won't stab your feet like, say, Douglas firs. Plus noble firs have a nice smell.
2) Height: 5' - 6' worked well for her.
3) Price: Shilo, being one of the most practical people I know, already had an idea how much she was willing to shell out for a tree, based on its size, how long she would have it up, and the enjoyment she would get out of having it in her house. Mostly, she was looking forward to having the smell of a fresh tree pervade the air :)
Now you have to take care of it, since it's a real tree. Like watering it and stuff. Now I prefer a real tree over a fake tree, although wreathes are more my speed *hehehe*