What to look for in a Christmas tree
When Cathy Genovese helps customers find the perfect Christmas tree, she offers advice on the various styles, types and sizes.
“The trees always look smaller in the field than they do in the home,” says Genovese, who with her husband, Frank, first planted pine trees on their Oxford, Mich., farm in 1977. The Candy Cane Christmas Tree Farm opened to customers in 1987.
“There are so many things to take into consideration when buying a tree,” she says.
The Genoveses pride themselves on Frank’s clipping and pruning techniques while the trees are growing.
“Our trees don’t look like they’ve been through a pencil sharpener,” she says. “Frank’s a gentle trimmer and aims to grow trees whose branches can hold ornaments well.” Whatever your taste, from fir to faux, tabletop to towering, these tips will help you deck the halls in style.
In arm’s way: Measure your room before heading out to purchase a tree.
“Many people use the arm test,” says Genovese, which involves raising your arm toward your ceiling to the height you want your tree to be. “Then measure the tree with your arm in the field,” Genovese explains. “If your arm isn’t long enough, extend your reach with a yardstick and bring that yardstick with you to the tree farm.”
Width wisdom: “It’s helpful to eyeball or measure the space you have for your tree,” Genovese says. “You don’t want the tree to be so wide that it takes over the room. And keep in mind, the tree should be kept away from a heat source or fireplace.”
Err on the airy: The trees that best showcase ornaments are not dense, Genovese says. “Some trees are trimmed so tightly that while they look beautiful undecorated, ornaments will simply lay on the outside of the tree. We like to see appropriate symmetry on a tree with a slightly looser density so that the ornaments can hang and be seen in their full glory.”
Potted pleasures: A living, potted tree, “Can be used indoors for 10 days to two weeks,” Genovese says, “before storing them outdoors and planting them in the spring.”
Eye for design: “In terms of decorating, I’m generally a bigger fan of fresh things, whether it be trees, a bowl of pears on the coffee table or a vase of white orchids on the dining room credenza,” says interior designer Corey Damen Jenkins of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Jenkins, who runs DWV: Design with Vision, was selected to appear as a guest designer in an upcoming episode of HGTV’s “Showhouse Showdown.”
“When I’m designing a room for a client, I actually think about where a Christmas tree would eventually go and take into account window placement, sunlight, etc.,” he says.
Take a stand: Don’t forget that the tree stand often adds to the overall height, perhaps 4 to 6 inches.
Can’t top this: Also, consider tree toppers and bows that will ultimately go on top of the tree, adding more height.
When she goes hunting for a fresh-cut tree this weekend, Joy DiCenso of Bloomfield Village, Mich., says, “our fir will be around 7 feet tall by the time it’s in a stand and I put a large bow on the top. It’s all my room can take.”
Consider ceiling height: “Most standard ceilings are between 7 1 / 2and 9 feet,” Genovese says. Laurie Burger’s 9-foot tree fits nicely in the family room of her Sterling Heights home because she has 10- to 12-foot cathedral ceilings.
“Your tree needs to be 8 to 12 inches less than your ceiling height, if you are using an ornament on top,” Genovese says.
The long haul: Consider the logistics of how you’ll get your tree into the room. “We have French doors to the family room so bringing it in and taking it out is easy,” DiCenso says.
Tree stand-ins: Not up for a tree this year? There are alternative ways to add festive charm to your home, says Dean Darin, general manager of English Gardens’ Royal Oak, Mich., location and a company co-owner. “Poinsettias are wonderful for the holidays,” he says, “especially as there are so many varieties today and they are so long-lasting. Red is the most popular, then the whites and pinks, and then the dyed, which are a novelty. Or consider miniature evergreens or orchids.” English Gardens can customize poinsettias with baskets, special wraps, glitter, ornamental sticks and more.
Goodwill hunting: While you’re on the hunt for a great tree, don’t forget about those in need. Since 2005, Christmas tree growers from across the nation have provided 84,000 fresh-cut trees to military families through the Trees for Troops program of the Christmas Spirit Foundation. FedEx has helped deliver, on average, 17,000 real Christmas trees each year to 60-plus military bases throughout the U.S. and overseas.
“It’s a great way for the patrons and the Christmas tree industry to say thank you,” Genovese says. To find Trees for Troops information, go to: www.christmasspiritfoundation.org.
Quality matters: If you opt for an artificial tree, “you get what you pay for,” Jenkins says. “The more you spend, the better quality you get. It should be difficult for the naked eye to distinguish a high-quality faux tree from a real one.”
Swoyer Garbinski, Megan. “What to look for in a Christmas tree” USA TODAY.COM. Newspaper Article. November 30, 2011. Web 25 March 2014