**Calculate your needs** Before heading out to buy your tree, measure the height and width of your space. It’s also a good idea to measure your tree topper and stand.
**Choose a fresh one** For precut trees, bend a needle between your fingers or touch the needle tip to the stem—if it’s too dry, it will snap. You can also bang the tree a few times on the ground. If it’s fresh, the tree will lose only a few needles.
**Carry it carefully** A tree is easier to transport if it’s bagged or wrapped. Keep the bag on to minimize damage when bringing it indoors. Save the bag to carry your tree outside after the holidays so you don’t get needles everywhere. If you don’t set it up right away, store it outdoors in a shady spot. When it is time to set up, make a fresh cut an inch from the bottom of the trunk so it can absorb more water.
**Care for it diligently** Check water levels at least every two days. Never let the water dip below the cut trunk, as this may cause the end to seal and prevent the water from being absorbed. Keep the tree away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
**Chuck it wisely** Most municipalities gather trees on special collection days, and turn them into mulch. Other eco-friendly ideas: Decorate the tree with bird-attracting treats and place in your garden. Or lay branches over beds for extra winter protection, and use the trunk for woodworking projects. Never burn your whole tree in a fireplace.