One of the best parts of the Christmas season is sitting back and enjoying a beautiful Christmas tree filled with lights, ornaments and presents tucked beneath it. While a lot of people tend to go with artificial trees these days, there are a lot of folks out there who make it a family tradition to pick out their own Christmas tree every year. If you're new to buying fresh Christmas trees, you might be wondering - How do you pick out a good one? Below are a couple of tips to help you pick out the perfect Christmas tree for your home.

What type of tree should you get?

Most Christmas trees are either spruce, pine, fir, cypress or cedar, and there are several types of each. The most popular Christmas tree in the United States is the Scotch pine. Douglas and Noble firs are also popular, but they are typically larger in size. Spruce tend to have sharper needles.

Be prepared before you go

Before you head out to get your tree, clean the area where you plan to put it. Measure the height, width and depth and write it down. Bring a tape measure with when you buy the tree to make sure it will fit in your space.

Find the perfect tree

Once you find a tree, complete this three-step process to make sure you have the best, fresh Christmas tree:

  • Check for freshness: When you bend the needles on a fresh fir tree they'll snap, on a fresh pine they will bend.
  • Ensure the needles are secure: Reach into the middle of the tree and grasp a branch, slide your hand out toward you. If you bring a lot of needles with you, pick another tree.
  • Check for uniformity: Look all around the tree for discoloration. Variations in color can signal a future of dull gray spots.

When it's time to raise your tree at home, have a nice strong stand that can hold water to keep your tree from drying out. Three points of contact is the absolute minimum for a tree, four is much better. Before mounting your tree, cut a half-inch off the bottom of the stump. Then lift the tree into the stand, as opposed to attaching the stand to the tree. Doing this allows you to see which direction the tree may lean. If your tree is still unbalanced, wedge small pieces of wood between the stand and the trunk to balance it. Then your tree is ready to decorate.