buying a Christmas tree
Find out what you need to do to make sure you bring home the perfect Christmas tree. Pictured: The Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in New York on Nov. 30, 2016. Getty Images

It’s officially December which means, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to buy your Christmas tree! Bringing home a beautiful tree is one of the first signs that your household is getting ready for the 2016 holiday, but it can be a bit daunting trying to figure out how to pick out the perfect tree.

To help make the process a little easier, below are tips on how to pick out the tree that’s right for you and how to keep it nice and fresh throughout the season.

Step 1: The most important step is to measure the area in your home where you want the tree to go. The National Christmas Tree Association suggests measuring the ceiling height in the room and the width to make sure you have enough space to work with. You should also make sure you have enough room for decorations and for the presents going under the tree.

Step 2: Where you place your tree is extremely important because certain areas in your home can be a fire hazard. You will want to avoid placing the tree near fireplaces, heaters and in direct sunlight.

Step 3: Once you know how much space you’re working with, you can go out and actually select which tree you want. Before you narrow it down and bring one home, there are a few important tests you need to do to ensure the tree you’re getting is healthy.

According to Lowes, one of the first things you want to do at the lot is give the tree a little shake. If a few brown needles fall on the ground, that’s OK. If green needles fall , that means the tree is dry and you should choose another one. The site also suggests that you feel the tree. It’s a good thing if the needles feel flexible and snap when bent at a sharp angle. If the needles are really stiff and starting to lose color, move on to another one.

Step 4: After you’ve made your chose, you will need to make sure you have the proper equipment to transport the tree from the lot to your home. One thing you should have is a pair of gloves so you don’t stick yourself with the branches or get tree sap all over your fingers. You will also want the workers at the tree lot to net the tree before you tie it down with rope or twine to the roof of your car.

Side note: it’s better to have the trunk of the tree facing the front of the car. At home, you want to make sure you have your tree stand ready and a tree skit if you want one.

Step 5: After you’ve done all of that and your tree is home and decorated, you have to take care of it so it stays fresh throughout the holiday. The National Christmas Tree Association says the tree should be put into water shortly after bringing it home. The site says the temperature of the water doesn’t really matter, but Home Depot suggests using plain water with no additives. Because trees can take in a lot of water, you will want to keep an eye on how much water is in the stand making sure it doesn’t go below the base of the tree.