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How to pick the perfect Christmas tree

close up of tree December 12, 1996

(CNN) -- Artificial trees will slightly outnumber the real ones in American homes this year, but if a fake one is not quite right for you, here are some tips for picking out the real thing:

  • Check for freshness. Gently grasp a branch in your fingers and pull it toward you. Needles should be brightly colored and only a few should come off.

  • Don't buy more tree than you can handle. Remember, your stand and the star on top may add up to a foot more in height.

    family buying tree

  • Expect to spend between $20 and $50 as prices on average should be about the same as last year.

  • If you want the best selection, buy early. If you want the best price, wait as long as the kids will let you.

  • After you get the tree inside and up, experts say it'll need a gallon of fresh water in the first 24 hours.

    sawing tree

  • Finally, remember to keep that tree away from fireplaces and heaters for a safe and happy holiday.

You can get more information from National Christmas Tree Association's Web site at

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