Tips on how to pick the perfect Christmas tree

There's something magical about a real Christmas tree, the way it looks, the way it feels, and the wonderful fresh scent it brings into your home.

Christmas Tree expert Marsha Gray, Executive Director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association has the best tip to help you pick out the best farm fresh Christmas tree for your family.  She tells you what to look for, how to care for the tree and what to do with your tree once the holidays are over.

Varieties of Trees:

The top selling Christmas Trees are: Balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, Noble fir, Scotch pine, Virginia pine and White pine.

How to select your Christmas Tree :

* Give the tree a small shake. A few falling brown needles are common, but falling green needles warn that the tree is dry.

* Gently grasp a branch and pull it toward you. Only a few needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.

* Avoid trees with stiff needles that are losing their color.

* "Marriage Saver" tree stand: Key to using this stand is to visit a farm that pre-drills holes into the tree trunk so you can easily place the tree on the stand.

  Fresh, Farm-Grown Tree Care Tips:

* When you get your tree home, cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the end and put the tree into water immediately.

* If you are not ready to put your tree up right away, keep it in a cool and shaded area such as a garage or covered porch.

*The single most important thing you can do to keep your tree fresh is to WATER, WATER, WATER! A fresh cut tree may take up as much as a gallon of water on the first day and a quart or more on the following days.

* Display your tree in an area away from heat sources such as registers, radiators and fireplaces. These heat sources will dry the tree out quickly.

Keep it safe:

* Use newer model lights with in-line fuses to avoid overloading.

* Display your tree away from sources of fire or heat such as fireplaces and candles.

* Always turn off tree lights when away from home and before going to bed.

Dispose Properly:

* Consumers can locate the nearest recycling program by logging onto or calling 1-800-CLEANUP.

Real Christmas Tree Fact:

* It can take as many as 15 years to grow a tree of average retail sale height (6 - 7 feet) or as little as 4 years, but the average growing time is 7 years.

Benefits of a Real Christmas Tree vs. a Fake Tree:

* Real Christmas trees help filter dust and smog from the air and help stop soil erosion.

* Christmas trees on a farm produce oxygen - a necessary component of life for people.

* Real Christmas trees provide a comfortable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.

* After the holidays, Christmas trees can be recycled and used for purpose including bird feeders/shelters, fuel chips and mulch. Fake trees end up in a landfill.

* Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.

For help on finding the perfect Christmas tree you can click on the Oklahoma Christmas Tree Association website.