Uh Oh, Christmas Tree Too Big For House? (What to Do)

Christmas is one of the best times of the year, and more than 2 billion people worldwide and about 93% of Americans celebrate Christmas. Apart from friends, family, and snow, one thing that adds to the beauty and flair of the season is the Christmas tree tradition. So what do you do if it turns out your beloved Christmas tree is too big for your house? Short of buying a new house, that is!

If the Christmas tree is too big for the house, there are effective ways to handle that like just returning it for a refund. You could alternatively cut the tree to make it smaller or if it’s artificial, leave off some parts. Another idea is to find a new spot where it will fit, maybe even outside.

During Christmas, it is usually difficult to find a home that does not have a large, green and beautifully decorated tree in the living room. While some trees are small, other trees are much larger.

Although it is expected that you should know the size of the tree that can fit into your house, it is possible to miscalculate or simply get carried away by the beauty of the tree and decide to get it and solve the problem of getting it into the house later on. Whatever the reason, it is not unheard of to end up with a tree that is larger than the living room, and end up in a dilemma about where to put the tree.

As an avid Christmas tree lover, I’ve dealt with this situation a time or two (or three…who’s counting?) over the years. Read on to learn from my holiday mistakes!

What To Do If Your Christmas Tree Is Too Big

It may be that you discover the Christmas tree you purchased is too big for your house only after you’ve drove home from the tree lot, and tried to fit it into the house (or ordered it online like this 9 Ft Premium Spruce with over 10,000 reviews at Amazon and put it together after opening the box).

At that moment, it feels like it’s too late to take it back (or send it back) and get a smaller tree. Not to mention you have a million other things to do than re-do your Christmas tree. Or it could be that you simply love the tree too much to take it back (or ship it for a refund) and get a replacement. So what do you do? 

For ‘too big Christmas trees’, you have options. The simple solution is to return it for a refund. Or you can cut the tree from the stump or the top. If it’s artificial, you might be able to leave off some pieces to make it fit. You can also find another spot in the home for it, including outside.

Here are some concrete suggestions for dealing with a Christmas tree that’s too big:

  • Generally, when you get your tree you should cut an inch or a few inches off the bottom of the trunk to keep it fresh before putting it in some water or any other place you prefer. However, if the tree is too big, you can cut more than a few inches from the bottom so that you can get the desired size. It’s a method of reducing the length of a Christmas tree if you have tried and still can’t get it to fit into the house, and also keep the beloved tree shape that probably attracted you to it in the first place.

  • You can also trim the sides of the tree, and the branches of the tree to get a perfect size. This helps especially if the tree is too big in the width. Then, you can use a pair of clean gardening shears or a pair of scissors to cut off any wayward or long and out-of-place branches to reduce the overall size of the tree. And you need to do this before hanging the decorations. Also while trimming, make sure you’re cutting carefully, so that the tree will maintain that desired triangular shape.

  • Another thing you can try is to move the tree away from the center of the room. For example, if your tree is in the living room, it probably looks so big because you’ve put it in the middle of the living room. You can try pushing it to the corner a bit, so it’s against the wall, and then trim a little bit of the leaves and branches that are still hanging. If you do that and it’s still looking large, then you might want to get some shears and really go to town on that tree. Feel free to cut entire branches off if you’re still not comfortable with the size after a light trim!
  • Think ‘outside the box’ (or living/family room) when placing the tree in the designated spot. Most of us put the tree in the living room or family room because that’s where we spend most of our time. However, the tree can certainly go elsewhere. Maybe your kitchen is large or a hallway has taller ceilings. Those could definitely work then. Or you might have a nice front porch. Some people decorate their tree outside-of course don’t put any presents out there or your neighbors might help themselves!
  • And then again, you might just have to accept the task of returning the tree before taking on one that is just too darn big for your home. It’ll be annoying in the short term to return the tree either to the lot or store if you bought an artificial one, but it very well could save a big headache and hassle the rest of the holiday season!

The Christmas Tree is Too Big in Movie, Christmas Vacation

The ‘big Christmas tree’ dilemma is immortalized in the 1989 movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo.

The Griswolds, the family in the famous Christmas movie, Christmas Vacation, available to watch any time of the year on Amazon Prime (linked) were very determined to have a swell Christmas holiday. Mr. Clark Griswold wanted the Christmas holiday to be the best one yet for his family. And everybody knows that a great Christmas celebration starts with a great tree. So the Griswolds decided to get a magnificent tree that is way too big for their living room!

In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation from 1989 the Griswold family Christmas tree is too big for their living room because it bursts through the windows and as mom, Ellen, points out, there is no room at the top for the angel because the tree goes all the way to the ceiling.

The Griswolds drove into the country to find and cut down their holiday tree. Unfortunately, since they wanted a large tree, they ended up walking through the snow for several hours before Mr. Griswold laid eyes on the biggest tree they’d seen so far. Of course, not only didn’t he have a saw to cut it down, but he didn’t measure it either for correct fit.

Big and majestic as the tree way, Clark wasn’t about to return the tree after getting it into his living room. He assured his family it would have room for the angel once he did a little more trimming! So yes, indeed, the Christmas tree in the movie, Christmas Vacation, was incredibly large and is what comes to most people’s minds as soon as you mention this holiday classic!

You might also like to read these holiday-related articles:

How Can I Take Care Of My Too Big Christmas Tree?

Packing up a big Christmas tree requires some planning and organization to store it properly and keep your big tree lasting longer.

Many purchase their Christmas tree a few weeks before Christmas, some as soon as the day after Thanksgiving. And we tend to keep it up at least a week after December 25th and Catholics like our family wait til Epiphany in January. So given that extended time it’ll be up, and the investment one makes in getting a real or artificial tree, you’ll want to take care of it properly to keep it nice all season…or for many years!

Here I’ll address how you can keep your big ‘real’ Christmas tree alive and fresh for the period you’ll have it in your home. And then, next, we’ll look at how to keep your big or small artificial tree properly stored for years to come.

For live/real trees:

  • First, you need to put your Christmas tree in water. At least the first two inches of the bottom of the tree should be immersed in water. So you can decide to get a larger stand if the one you have is too small to accommodate the tree and keep refilling the stand every day if you have to. The goal is to keep the plant hydrated. You should also know that plain water is as good as anything else to add to the water. So you should probably just use plain water.

  • You should be careful about putting your Christmas tree near the fireplace. Apart from the fact that it is a fire hazard, there is also the problem that it can make your tree dry out at a faster pace. So you should try to keep it away from the fire as much as possible, and if the house is usually dry, you can try using a humidifier to make the tree stay fresh for a longer period.

  • Then, I also believe that trimming the trunk of the tree will make it more water-absorbent. And the tree needs as much water as possible. If your tree does not absorb sufficient water, it will dry up faster. So trim the trunk again. Yes, trim it even if the seller already trimmed it, so it can better absorb water. Then, when you bring it home before you put it on the stand, cut another inch or two from the trunk and hope for the best.
  • Check the water regularly and as the tree soaks it up (and also as water evaporates), you’ll want to add more.
  • Also if you have pets, keep them away from the tree as much as you can. First, you don’t want them drinking the tree water. It’s not good for the tree or your pet. Also, you don’t want your pets to claw up the tree branches (cats especially are prone to this) which can shorten your tree’s freshness.

For artificial/fake trees:

  • Keep the container your tree came in and reuse it. Often it’s the best fit for storing your tree.
  • Buy special-made tree bags. We have a very large bag for storing our tree that we purchased on Amazon like this, but you can also find them at Walmart, Costco, and other ‘big box’ stores. These are sometimes an even better option than the original box or bag because they are more durable. I purchased one that next size up than our tree size in order to create extra room for the branches. This keeps them from getting too smooshed and looking ‘new’.
  • Store your tree in a safe, climate controlled area. It could be the garage, attic, basement or even a bedroom closet. The main thing is you want it out of the way but where it won’t get damaged.

Wrapping Up Christmas Tree Too Big For House

To wrap it up, many people have unintentionally purchased a Christmas tree that is too big for their house. It might be the easy solution to return it as soon as you realize this has happened but there are other effective methods for dealing with this if you choose to keep it.

Hopefully the suggestions offered here will help you deal with a too big tree and keep your Christmas merry and bright all season long!

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Additional Source: Bureau of Land Management

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