Project Guide

How to Set Up a Christmas Tree and Keep It Alive

How to Set Up a Fresh Christmas Tree in a Stand
An empty Christmas tree stand with screws to hold the tree trunk.
  • Choose a tree stand based on the height of your tree and its watering needs. Watch the above video for help in determining what type of stand will best fit your tree.
  • Put on gardening gloves and cut off any branches on the bottom 10 inches of the tree. If you get the bottom of your tree trunk cut at The Home Depot, the cut can stay fresh for up to eight hours, so make sure to get your tree in water within eight hours of purchase.
  • When you get home, lift your freshly-cut tree trunk and set it firmly into the base prongs of the tree stand. Leave the tree in its netting for easier handling. 
  • Hold the tree straight while a friend turns two opposite screws on the base of the stand to secure the tree. 
  • Step back and look to see if the tree is straight. Use a windowsill or corner to help determine if it's straight. Remember that the tree will be much wider once the net is removed and the branches relax. 
  • Adjust the tree in the stand as necessary. To do this, lean the tree in the direction it needs to go to be straightened while a friend tightens the remaining screws on the stand. Screws may not turn to the same tightness to achieve a straight tree, so don’t worry about that. 
  • Still leaning? Loosen the screws, gently re-center the tree and tighten the screws again. 
  • Remove the net with scissors. 
  • Don't try to shape the tree. Within three hours, the tree branches will fall into their natural position. 
  • Add water, mixing in a Christmas tree preservative, if desired. Fill the tree stand to capacity, then cover it with a Christmas tree skirt.

How to Keep a Fresh Christmas Tree Alive
A Christmas tree trunk inserted into a Christmas tree stand with the screws tightened to hold it upright.
  • Water every day. A six-foot Christmas tree needs one gallon of water a day to stay fresh. Use more water more for taller trees.
  • Set up a tree watering device or funnel that makes it easy to water the tree without having to bend over or step on any presents. Some watering devices have alerts to remind you to water daily.