For many families, picking out the perfect Christmas tree is an annual tradition. But there are a few things you should keep in mind about your real Christmas tree to help keep it fresh through the holiday season.

Trim the trunk

Make a fresh cut across the bottom of the trunk. I know it seems odd since you just cut down the tree, but it’s necessary.

When the tree is first cut, sap rushes to close the gap and seal the bottom. That prevents the tree from absorbing water. Adding a fresh cut at the bottom before you place the tree in water will help it take in the water and stay fresh through December.

It’s also recommended to put up the tree the same day you bring it home. But if you can’t, you should store the tree in a cool place with water until you’re ready and able to set it up.

Buy a big enough stand

Make sure your tree stand is big enough for the tree and the water it will need.

Water, water, water

Always keep fresh-cut trees in water.

Don’t add sugar, Sprite or any other additives, according to longtime Christmas tree farmer Damian Prause. He recommends watering trees twice a day, and even more often than that, in the beginning if you notice the tree drinking more water.

Choose an appropriate location

Location is key. Don’t place your tree in a window where it will get full sun. That will dry out the tree faster.

Also consider foot traffic and if any young or elderly family members or friends could trip and stumble over the tree.

Be cautious of heat sources

This goes back to location. Make sure your tree isn’t near a heater, fireplace or other heating and cooling sources. Those can dry out the tree or cause it to catch fire.

Check your lights

Before decking your tree, check your lights. Make sure there aren’t any exposed wires or missing bulbs. Smaller lights produce less heat, which is beneficial with fresh-cut trees.

Don’t leave your tree lit if you won’t be in the same room or at home with it. Real trees, especially if they are starting to dry, can catch fire. It’s important to follow general fire safety tips when you have a real Christmas tree indoors.

Check water levels daily

There’s the water thing again. Make sure you check the water level in your tree’s stand daily to ensure the water isn’t below the bottom of the trunk. If it becomes very dry, it can become a fire and safety hazard.

Meet a family who grows Christmas trees

There are several families with Christmas Tree farms in Utah. For a listing, click HERE, or if you want to cut down your own on public land, click HERE to see now and to get a permit.

Julie Tomascik is associate director-editor at Texas Farm Bureau. This column was originally published on Texas Table Top and is republished with permission.