How and when to put up a Christmas tree: is November too early?

Need advice on when to put up a Christmas tree, and how to do it? These tips will ensure easy installation and maximum lifespan for your tree

how to put up a Christmas tree
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Want to know when to put up a Christmas tree? With a recent survey* revealing that one in five have already put up theirs, and that about a third of us have all our Christmas decorations and tree up well before December, many of us are wondering if we really need to wait until December. 

And then there's the question of how to ensure you tree doesn't die before Christmas. There is a little bit more to it than 'stick it in a bucket' (although there's nothing particularly wrong about just sticking it in a bucket). Do it like a pro and enjoy a Christmas tree that looks beautiful and stays fresh throughout the holidays. 

When is the best time to put up a Christmas tree?

There's no hard and fast rule, and, evidently, lots of people put up their trees well before mid-December. Theoretically, you can keep a tree alive for a month, but in practice, most cut down trees will only stay fresh for two to three weeks; after that, the tree will just shut down and begin shedding its needles. 

You may have a little more time if you'll be keeping yours in a room that's cool and gets plenty of natural light; heating really dries out Christmas trees, so bear that in mind. There are also various hacks you can try to keep you tree alive longer, but if you tend to be forgetful, the safest thing to do is to get your tree  during the second week of December – that way, you're guaranteed a fresh-looking tree on Christmas Day. 

Alternatively, consider renting a live tree from one of several rent-a-tree companies that now operate around the UK. The way it works is you get a live, potted tree delivered, you look after it, and then return it to be replanted. You do still need to look after it and water it daily. 

How to put up a Christmas tree

When you've chosen the best Christmas tree for your household, you'll then want to look out for a sturdy, appropriately sized stand, ideally made from painted metal for maximum stability. Your tree should feel snug inside, not wobbly – but you do need a bit of a gap between the trunk and the inside of the stand so that you can water your tree. The best tree stands have screws for securing the trunk. If yours doesn't, and your tree is wobbly inside, try wedging something (a cork, for instance) between the trunk and the stand. 

Once you've installed your tree, water it, filling the stand up enough for you to be able to feel the level of the water with your finger. This will help with knowing when to top up the water. 

Where to position your tree

As far away from sources of heat as possible. Dry, warm air will kill your tree, and quickly. Ideally, your tree should be positioned in the middle of the largest, best aired room in the house. The less heat that room gets, the better. You may also wish to get a humidifier to help your tree stay fresher longer. Trees want natural light, too. A room that gets good sunlight in the day is best.

How to keep your tree safe for kids and pets

Make sure your tree is stable to avoid it getting knocked over by boisterous toddlers/puppies/kittens. All decoration should be hung as close to the trunk as possible; avoid hanging anything too close to the tips of the branches as they may slide off or be pulled off by curious pets/children. 

If you have a cat or puppy, avoid decorating with tinsel: they love chewing on the stuff and can get very sick from it blocking their stomachs. Obviously, your tree also will suffer as they try to tear off the tinsel. Always unplug any lights when not supervising. 

*Survey by 

Will a Christmas tree last longer if you feed it? 

Some people believe that feeding a Christmas tree with a sugary solution will preserve it longer. The evidence is anecdotal, but some people do swear by the various concoctions that they add to the water the tree stands in, so it's worth a try if you're putting up your tree early. Even just adding sugar to the water will make it more nutritious for the tree, which should make it last longer provided it's not too warm and also has light. You can also try adding Christmas tree feed specifically formulated for Christmas trees. 

When to take down your tree

If you're superstitious, do it by the 6th January. If not, whenever it has started to shed its needles/no longer takes up water. Remember to take it to a tree recycling point – your council website should tell you where you nearest one is. 

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

In 2018 Anna moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space and joined as Staff Writer. She has a longterm interest in space-making and the evolution of interior style. She can also be found looking for the latest innovations in sustainable homewares or buying yet more bedding.