How to Pick the Perfect Tree

With Thanksgiving over, those who celebrate Christmas will start thinking about their tree. If you get a live tree each year, you’ll want to bring one home that fills your room with not only beauty but a wonderful scent, as well.

Here are some tips for finding the perfect tree from This Old House’s landscape contractor Roger Cook:

1. Before you head out to the tree lot, measure the height of your ceiling so you know what size tree you need. Be sure to consider the height of your stand and tree topper.

2. When you find a tree you like, test the branches. Grab any branch on the tree between your thumb and forefinger, gently clamp down and pull towards yourself. If you end up with a handful of needles, the tree is already past its prime.

3. Crush the needles in your hand and then check the scent. If the tree doesn’t smell enough, don’t buy it.

4. Bounce the tree by holding it a few inches above the ground and dropping it. Needles that fall off from the interior of the tree are normal, but if exterior needles drop it’s a bad tree.

5. Make sure the tree’s trunk fits your stand. Trimming the diameter of the tree by cutting away the bark will strip the tree of its cambium layer, which absorbs water.

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Details

Thanksgiving is this week, and in the midst of your holiday preparation it is easy to overlook a few details. Here are three quick tips to help you with your last-minute planning:

1. If your turkey isn’t completely defrosted, don’t despair. Immerse the bird in the plastic wrap and put it in ice-cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to avoid dangerous bacteria from developing, according to Butterball. It will thaw quicker than leaving it in the refrigerator.

2. Double-check your menu. Go over each recipe and make sure you have all of your ingredients. You don’t want to have to run around on Thanksgiving morning looking for a store that’s open because you’re out of flour.

3. Count your place settings. Make sure you have enough plates, forks, knives and napkins for everyone. Don’t forget the settings you’ll use for serving food, and have a couple on hand in case someone brings an unexpected guest. If you’re shy a few settings ask someone to bring extra.