Westside Christmas Tree 101

Santa Monica Place's giant Christmas on display. Photo: Courtesy.

What kind of tree to buy and how to prevent fires.

 By Keldine Hull 

Like eggnog and Christmas music, Christmas trees are an important part of what make the holidays so special. While residents on the Westside will never get a white Christmas, finding the right tree and adding the perfect decorations can at least make Christmas merry and bright. Here’s the ultimate Westside guide to where to buy that perfect Christmas tree, how to maintain it, and how to safe this holiday season.  


From Noble Firs to Douglas Firs, A1 Christmas Tree Lot located at 1401 Santa Monica Blvd., offers a beautiful selection of trees, brought in fresh every week. While picking out the perfect tree, it’s important to find the one that’s just right for you. Andrew Mikhel is the manager at A1 Christmas Tree Lot and knows a thing or two about picking out the perfect Christmas tree. “Every tree is unique,” Mikhel explains. “It really comes down to whichever one calls your name out. Bigger trees are more beautiful, and they live longer than smaller trees. I like Nobel Firs. There’s nothing more classic.” A1 Christmas Tree Lot is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Lopez Ranch Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Trees, located at 1020 Victoria Avenue in Venice, is one of the most popular destinations for Christmas trees on the Westside. Almost more important than finding the right tree is taking care of it. General Manager George Lopez offers a few tips on taking care of your tree and how to tell when it’s time to let it go. “Don’t put them directly in sunlight for 24 hours,” Lopez warns. “Don’t put them by a heater. As long as it’s fresh and not dropping its needles, you can keep it all the way until January 7th.”  Lopez Ranch Pumpkin Patch and Christmas Trees is open from 11 am to 9 pm Monday to Friday and 10 am to 8 pm on the weekends. 

Christmas trees are synonymous with getting into the holiday, but it’s important to properly maintain them to keep family and friends stay safe throughout the holidays. U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 170 home fires each year from 2012 to 2016 that started with Christmas trees. Those fires resulted in 4 deaths, 15 injuries and $12 million in property damage, the majority of which occurred in December. 

Fire Safety Coordinator for the Santa Monica Fire Department Suzanne Post, along with the National Fire Protection Association, offer their top ten useful tips for Christmas tree safety this holiday season: 

1. Choose a tree that is fresh with green needles that do not fall off when touched.

2. Before placing the tree in its stand, cut 1-2 inches from the base of the trunk.

3. Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.

4. Make sure your tree isn’t blocking an exit. 

5. Be sure to add water daily.

6. Use lights that have the label of an independent test laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.

7. Replace any string lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.

8. Connect no more than three strands of mini string sets and a maximum of 50 bulbs for screw-in bulbs. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of LED strands to connect.

9. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.

10. Always turn off Christmas lights before leaving your home or going to bed.

Post also notes that trees should be disposed of when they’re dry, preferably as soon as Christmas is over. Residents can check the city’s Resource, Recovery and Recycle website for information on how to dispose of their trees. Post also offers some overall tips for staying safe during the holidays. “Test and make sure all smoke alarms are working in the home,” Post adds. “Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant. Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop and teach your kids how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire. Have them practice, stopping immediately, dropping to the ground, covering their face with their hands and rolling over and over to put the flames out. If you attend holiday parties, look for ways out of the home and plan how you would get out in an emergency.” When throwing your own holiday party, Post suggests having a fire escape plan and informing your guests to ensure everyone’s safety. 

For more information, on how to dispose of your Christmas tree, visit: https://www.smgov.net/departments/publicworks/recycling.aspx