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What makes the perfect Christmas tree?

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The annual tradition of choosing a Christmas tree is something that millions of Brits take part in each year

A survey by Which? found 48 per cent of people will buy a real tree this year, compared to 40 per cent choosing an artificial version and just 12% who will bypass a tree altogether.

Whether you opt for real or artificial, Craig Roman from Dobbies has advice on how to choose the most suitable tree this festive season and give your home a stunning festive look.

Know your options

There are four main choices of real Christmas tree in the UK, the first being the Norway Spruce, which is regarded as the most traditional option. Its pyramid shape, dark green foliage and rich festive scent are key advantages, with the drawbacks being the sharp needles and frequent shedding.

The most popular real option is the Nordmann Fir, which has dark green, glossy foliage and soft, tenacious leaves that require few decorations to stand out, and is ideal for minimalist-style homes.

The Fraser Fir has a blue-green colour and dense foliage, making it unsuitable for heavy baubles but perfect for tinsel and lights, while the Noble Fir is thick stemmed and a sturdy option for bauble lovers.

Fake it

The final option is an artificial tree, which can range in colour, style and quality, with many premium options passing for being freshly cut. An added advantage is that these can last for many years, which could save the hassle of purchasing and transporting a fresh one every Christmas.

Size and preparation

What many people may not realise is that the height of a tree can differ significantly from what is advertised. In some cases, one sold as 5ft may be closer to 6ft, so be sure to leave up to 30cm above the space you intend to fill with the tree when choosing it, and account for 15cm at the base.

Try not to unwrap the tree and begin decorating until it is secure in its base, to avoid tussling with branches and crawling underneath. Once the tree is positioned and you are happy with its location, allow to stand for 24 hours in the case of real trees so that the branches can settle down.


This Christmas, animals and fauna are bang on trend, with owls, hedgehogs and reindeer decorations all proving popular choices with homeowners. Other popular approaches include using iridescent sparkling decorations, particularly with a fairytale theme.

When it is time to dress the tree, select the biggest items first and display them on the larger branches, then repeat the technique by matching smaller decorations to the smaller branches and work your way around the branches. Wire can also be more effective than string when hanging, so you can completely control where they sit.

Don’t forget to feed it

If you have an artificial tree, you can now put your feet up and enjoy the view, but for those who have bought a real version there is maintenance involved. Stand the tree in a bucket that can hold water - but keep electric lights away. It will need approximately 1-2 litres a day, depending on the temperature of the room

Some people even put sugar in the bucket, though the efficacy of this technique has yet to be proven.

Remember that if your tree is located too close to a fire or radiator, it will dry out - in the case of the Nordman Fir - or even lose its needles, if you opted for the Norway Spruce.

Saying goodbye

Once the festive period is over, you will inevitably need to say goodbye to your tree. In the case of real ones, be sure to box it carefully so that branches are not bent out of place, and box up any decorations according to where they were located in the home to save yourself the hassle of sifting through next year.

Anyone with a real tree can generally call the local council and ask if they will collect it from the doorstep, but in the case of a pot-grown tree it is possible to plant it in the garden and dig it up again the following year, size permitting.

Dobbies Garden Centres has a vast range of Christmas trees and a huge array of decorations. Find out more at