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Oh Christmas tree, how you perplex us. The debate between investing in a real tree or opting for a fake one continues, but if your tradition involves a fresh fir, you know that when it comes to picking out the right tree, there’s more than meets the eye.

Now that it’s December, it’s finally time to head out and pick the spruce to spruce up your holiday decor, but there are a few commandments to keep in mind, according to this video. To keep your beautiful, fresh tree from turning into a Charlie Brown Christmas, here are 10 tips to follow this season.

1. Measure, measure, measure

If there’s only one rule you follow, make it this one. You may think you know how big your space is, but once you’re staring up at that beautiful tree…everything will change. Your best bet is to have a solid measurement to back you up. And don’t only measure the height of your ceiling – be sure to measure actual floor space, too.

Christmas Tree

2. Be mindful of your species

Not all trees grow equal. If you’re heading out early in December, you’re going to want to make sure to pick a tree that will last you the entire month. According to experts, a Fraser fir is a good bet in that case. Other common tree types that seem to hold up for the entire holidays include the Douglas fir, noble fir and Scotch pine.

Christmas Tree

3. Make sure it’s straight

This sounds so obvious, but when looking to see if a tree stands upright, you’re going to want to go right down to the very base. Make sure that it’s not only straight, but that it’s at least six inches long so that it will fit into the tree stand.

Christmas Tree

4. Test it out

Hey, if you’re going to be buying the thing you may as well see if it’s going to hold up. Be sure to run your fingers up and done the pines to make sure they’re pliable and fresh. Also give the tree a little shake to make sure that not too many needles fall off. If they’re falling off now, odds are you’re going to have a living room full of them before Christmas.

Christmas Tree

5. Don’t wait until the last minute

Sure, there’s something to be said about having a fresh tree in your home, but if you leave it until too late, there’s a good chance all of the nice looking trees will be taken and you’ll be stuck with a dud. For your best bet, don’t leave it any later than mid-December. Otherwise you may have to get a little creative.

Christmas Tree

6. Set out a budget ahead of time

Although you probably won’t get a sale (unless you break Rule #5 and wait until the last minute), you can shop around for the best price. Depending on the type and size of tree you want, they can run you anywhere from $20 to $100. Knowing how much you’re willing to spend, and only looking at trees in that price range, will keep you from being tempted into something bigger or shinier.

Christmas Tree

ONCE IT’S HOME

7. Treat the base

Like fresh flowers, a tree will absorb water more easily if you cut about an inch off the bottom before you set it up. Be sure to maintain a flat surface, because the last thing you need is a tipsy tree.

Christmas Tree

8. Water it like crazy

There’s a reason these trees do so well in the snow — they need that moisture. Be sure to water your tree every few hours, and never let the water go below the base. If you do, those needles will be making a new carpet on your living room well before Dec. 25.

Christmas Tree

9. Don’t add anything to the water, either

There are plenty of old wives tales out there about what to add to your water in order to keep the tree at its freshest. We’ve heard of everything from bleach and sugar to salt and aspirin. But when it comes to keeping your tree intact, experts agree that water is best.

Christmas Tree

10. Buy a ceiling hook

If you’re still not convinced the tree is sturdy — or if you have pets, especially cats — you’ll probably want to consider investing in a ceiling hook for your tree so that it doesn’t topple over and smash all of your pretty ornaments. Nothing ruins Christmas like an animal or child gone rogue around a tree, so sometimes it’s just better to plan for the worst in advance. Just ask Chevy Chase.

Christmas Tree