December is here and with it the festivities of Christmas. A time to adorn the home with twinkly lights and evergreens to brighten the cold, dark nights. Whether you put your tree up at the beginning of December or Christmas eve - take a look at our guide on How to choose the perfect Christmas tree for you and your family.

The history of the Christmas tree

The origin of the Christmas tree can be traced back to ancient times. The tradition is believed to have originated from pagan traditions, where trees were worshipped as symbols of life. . The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands in pagan religious practices is documented extensively to symbolize life in the dark days and ward off bad spirits.

The Christmas Tree in the UK was introduced to the country by Queen Victoria, who had been influenced by German traditions. She introduced it to her children and grandchildren as an alternative to the traditional Yule log which was popular at the time.

Fun Fact - since 1947, a Christmas tree has been given to the UK by Norway as a thank-you for Britain's support in WW1. This year marks the 75th anniversary of this tradition!

Real vs artificial Christmas trees

The debate about real vs artificial Christmas trees is a long-standing one. Some people prefer the natural look of a real tree, while others prefer to have a trusty tree they take out each year. Weigh up the following pros and cons below to decide on what tree best suits your needs this year.

Real Tree Pros:

- Researchers have found that real trees have a smaller carbon footprint.

- Real Christmas trees smell better and have a more natural look.

- Real trees are biodegradable and can be recycled

Real Tree Cons:

- Real trees can be expensive, especially if you buy them from a store or cut them yourself.

- They need to be watered regularly and drop needles.

-The dropped needles can be dangerous for pets.

Artificial Tree Pros:

-They can be cheaper

- Easier to maintain - no watering and no needles to hoover or sweep up!

-Can be reused year after year.

-May not trigger allergies

Artificial Tree Cons:

-Non-recyclable, so carry a larger carbon footprint

-They don't have the same smell as a real tree, and they may not provide the same ambiance.

-May contain harmful chemicals

How to care for your real Christmas Tree

If you have a cut tree - take it out of its netting as soon as you get home and give it a good shake before bringing it inside. Use a panel saw to cut off around 3cm off the trunk and place it in a tree stand, giving it a good drink. Avoid putting it into sand or soil as this will affect its ability to absorb water. Water the tree every day with a minimum of 500ml.

If you have a potted tree - take it out of its netting and give it a good shake. Place it somewhere away from radiators to allow it to acclimatise before bringing it inside. Water with a minimum of 1l a day. After Christmas, move to a bigger pot and place it outside ready for next year.

How eco-friendly are real Christmas trees?

Real Christmas trees were once thought to be bad for the environment. However, researchers have now found that real trees have a lower carbon footprint than artificial trees, It is important however to buy locally grown trees rather than imported and the less time to deliver the tree, the lower the footprint! The Woodland Trust has stated that for every 1 tree that is cut down, 10 trees are planted in their place. As real trees are biodegradable they can be easily recycled - see the tips below to find out the best way for you.

How to recycle your Christmas tree

When real trees are not responsibly disposed of and put into landfill, they can produce greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide. According to Ecotricity - 160,000 tonnes of Christmas trees get dumped every year. Try these tips to keep your carbon footprint as low as possible and recycle responsibly:

Check your local council to see if they offer a Christmas tree recycling pick-up service or drop-off points.

Christmas trees can be used as mulch in gardens or composted to make soil for plants.

Chop it up for firewood - this is a carbon-neutral way to recycle as it emits the same amount of carbon dioxide stored when it was growing.

If you have a large pond it can be dumped here and as it decomposes it will provide a fabulous habitat for fish and attract algae that they can eat.

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