It wouldn't be a real Christmas without a real Christmas tree! But as pretty as the decorated tree looks in our living room, its beauty can be short-lived. You can't always know how fresh the tree really is when you buy it, but the good news is there are a few things you can do to keep it healthy and fresh a little longer. Follow these simple guidelines, courtesy of The Herald and you can enjoy an amazing holiday with a fresh-looking Christmas tree!

Buying the tree:

- The needles should be green, lush and firmly attached at the tips of the branches. Lightly grasp a branch and pull it through your hand to make sure the needles don't come off.

- Shake the tree a little. If a lot of needles fall off, the tree is no longer fresh.

- Some trees retain their needles longer than others, so choose make sure to choose the right one. White pines, red pines and Fraser firs have excellent needle retention and Austrian pines, Scotch pines, southwestern white pines, Canaan firs, Douglas firs and concolor firs have very good retention.

Maintaining the tree:

- Whether you set the tree up right away or not, cut about an inch off the bottom of the trunk and put it in water – after six hours cut, cut it again. Never let the water fall below the bottom of the trunk!

- Choose the right spot for your Christmas tree! Keep it away from sunlight and sources of heat, such as fireplaces and heating registers. If possible, turn down the temperature in the room where the tree is set up.

- Add as much humidity to the room as possible! Simply place a dish filled with water in the room or use a humidifier.

- Avoid keeping the lights on for too long and turn them off when you leave. To save energy, consider using LED lights, which burn cooler than incandescent bulbs.