The Standard Guide to Picking the Perfect Christmas Tree

One doesn’t choose to live in New York City because it’s easy. Then again, the holidays can be one of the more trying times of year, what with the weather, the general prickliness of the natives, and the brutal scrum to get an inordinate amount of things done while simply keeping it together. It is our belief, however, that selecting and securing a Christmas tree should not a soul-crushing, shoulder-scraping, block-slogging, fuck-it-I’m-moving-to-the-suburbs moment. This year, we enlisted our friends from Williamsburg’s well-loved Crest Hardware to turn our 5th Street Garden at The Standard, East Village into a Christmas tree market, complete with soul-stirring hot cocoa and cider (spiked or virgin). To take the feel-good quotient to a whole other level, we’re donating the proceeds to the Lower East Side Girls Club.

To make things truly painless, we asked our pals from Crest to give us some pointers on picking out the perfect tree. 

Step #1
Consider your living space (duh).
Think about where the tree will go. How high are your ceilings? How big is the general area? Will your tree go in a corner or against a wall? Or will it go on a table in the middle of a party buffet? Crest’s expert tree technicians will be happy to give them a spin so you can analyze the angles.

Step #2
Consider the shape you prefer.
Many people have a personal shape preference. Some like a stout, rounded tree, while others prefer more angular silhouettes.

Step #3
What kind of decorations are you dealing with?
Do you have an attic full of heirloom ornaments? Probably not. But if you have lots of ornaments in a closet somewhere, you’re going to need space for them on the tree, between the branches, and you’ll need a tree with branches strong enough to support them. If you’re just slapping on some balls and lights, a fuller, denser tree will look lovely with minimal dressing up. 
The Fraser Fir, a.k.a. Abies fraseri, has strong branches that will support even the most overly-enthusiastic decorator, with enough space between them to allow for the ornaments themselves. The Frasier Fir has thicker needles than the balsam, which gives the tree a full, solid appearance. More important, it holds onto those needles long enough to make it through your new years party. They cost a few dollars more than the humble balsam, but are typically priced within reason for a dead thing that you’re going to throw away. Ours hail from the snowy climes of Canada.
Step #4:
Get ye to the gates of our Garden at The Standard, East Village.

Step #5:
Get your mitts on a spiked cider or cocoa. 

Step #6
Present yourself to one of Crest’s genius tree experts and explain your needs.

Step #7
Take your tree for a spin (have a Crest tree expert spin it around so you can see all sides).

Step #8
Saw down the trunk.  
Depending on the size of the tree and the stand you’re using, you’ll need 4-8 inches of bare trunk to secure the tree in the stand. Your tree vendor will trim away any lower branches that might get in the way. You can save them for your mantle or xmas dinnertable if you like. 
After a tree is harvested, the tree’s sap begins to congeal in the capillaries (xylem!) that transport water up the trunk to the rest of the tree. Taking an inch or so off the bottom of the trunk exposes fresh, unblocked capillaries. This allows the tree to soak up water from the reservoir in the stand, keeping it fresher, longer.

Step #9
Tell Crest’s expert how you’ll be transporting your tree. Our very own bike delivery service? Netted and carried? Subway? Uber?

Step #10
Last but not least: get erect.
This is a team sport. Place the tree in the stand, so that the base is centered on the spikes in the bottom of the reservoir. Have your partner hold the tree straight up by the trunk. Tighten the bolts in the stand until they are snug up against the trunk of the tree. Step back and observe. If the tree needs tweaking, loosen the bolts on one side and tighten the opposite ones. Or just tilt your head slightly.

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