Now that Thanksgiving is over, people are starting to think about decking their halls with all sorts of lights and decorations. Some people prefer artificial trees while others insist on the real thing. If you enjoy an actual evergreen in your home, these tips from the University of Illinois Extension will help you find the right one for your decorating needs and take care of it so it lasts the entire holiday season.

Measure your space before you go shopping. Bring a tape measure and rope to the tree lot. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to tie down a tree without a rope – unless it’s a tree that won’t fit in the house!

Buy a tree early when they go on sale. Trees at lots in town may have come from out of state and been exposed to winds during transit. Try to buy a tree that’s been shaded from the sun.

Pick a tree that suits your decorating situation. A tree that will be tucked into a corner only has to look good on two sides, but a tree that will be in front of a window must look good on all four sides. Be prepared to pay for perfection.

Make sure the trunk is sufficiently straight for the tree stand. There’s going to be some imperfection but pass on anything too curvy.

Ask for a tree removal bag, if available. It can be used as a tree skirt and then pulled up to keep the floors clean when the tree is taken down.

When bringing the tree inside at home, place it in a sturdy stand with at least one gallon of water or a quart of water for each inch of trunk diameter. Keep the water at that level so the end won’t dry out and seal over. Additives like aspirin and sugar haven’t been shown to help preserve a tree any more than plain water.

To make watering the tree easier, wire a three to four-foot piece of tubing along the trunk in an out-of-the-way place down to the tree stand. Place a small funnel at the top end of the tubing and tuck it among the tree branches. This allows easy filling without disturbing the tree skirt, decorations or any gifts under the tree.

For more tips on finding and caring for a Christmas tree, click here.