The “choose and cut” is not only a fresher alternative to the store-bought variety, but also more environmentally conscious.

1. Cut your own: For those with a saw and sturdy boots, Roy Ahlquist of Roy’s Christmas Tree Farm in Middleboro, Mass., recommends the “choose and cut” as not only a fresher alternative to the store-bought variety, but also more environmentally conscious. Though the trees are more expensive, it’s a family-orientated expedition, and in many cases, is accompanied by other fun activities such as hay rides, hot cider and gift shops.

2. At least, buy fresh cut: When shopping for a Christmas tree, only purchase those that are dark green in color and always check the “cut date” on the tree. If the tree was cut before the first week of November, it has a greater chance of drying out, said Michael Gallagher, owner of Lamberts Rainbow Fruit in Brockton, Mass. Another way to ensure you are purchasing a fresh tree is to run your hand along a branch. If a significant amount of needles drop, it may not last the season.

3. Trim the trunk: Before leaving the lot, ask a salesperson to cut 2 inches off the bottom of the tree, leaving a 6- to 8-inch branchless stem. Once this has been done, be prepared to put the tree in water within an hour after purchase. Otherwise, sap will coat the bottom of the tree, creating a shell-like covering that prevents water from penetrating up the stem. When you get your tree home, let it settle so the branches may loosen before decorating and keep the base filled with water at all times.

4. Take a stand:  Be cognizant of the depth and width of your Christmas tree. Lou Seoane, president of Seoane Landscape in Abington, Mass., said purchasing a heavy-duty tree stand – one that’s designed to accommodate the height and width of your tree – is critical in ensuring overall stability and proper hydration.

5. Choose your green: Retailers say the two most highly purchased trees are the traditional, fragrance-rich Balsam fir, and the dense, blue-tipped Fraser fir. In most cases, the Fraser fir will run $5 to $10 more.

The Enterprise