How to Tie a Christmas Tree to Your Car
Getting a real Christmas tree is an exciting way to kick-off the holiday season. You get to spend a fun-filled afternoon picking out the perfect tree and then warm up while you decorate it. But there’s a middle part in there that’s a lot less fun: transporting a Christmas tree to your home. Here’s how to tie a Christmas tree to your car and get it home without risking a crazy holiday insurance claim.
1. Before you leave the house
- Rope: To tie the tree to your car, or do one better and get ratchet straps. Fancy.
- Gloves: To protect your hands from spikes and splinters
- A flag: To put on the back of the tree, in case it’s longer than the car
- Tarp or blanket: To protect your car
- Appropriate footwear and clothing: Things you don’t mind getting a little sappy
2. Prep the tree for travel
- Get a tree that fits: Probably pointing out the obvious, but you’ll have a ton of tree options once you get to the lot and it’s easy to get carried away. While your eye might be drawn to the largest, fullest tree there, remember that you’re going to have to transport it. It may be a good idea to measure your car roof or trunk space and try not to venture too far outside those measurements.
- Get it wrapped: Most places will wrap the tree for you in netting, which helps with keeping it secure and preventing the needles from falling off during the ride. That way, it’s still just as big and full when you get it home as it was at the store.
- Flag the end: Remember that flag you packed in your trunk? This is it’s moment to shine. If you’re behind a car with something sticking out the back, it can be difficult to get perspective and the last thing you want is your precious new Christmas tree ending up in someone else’s windshield. If your tree is longer than your car, put a flag on the end of it so people will see it. If it’s dark outside, aim for something reflective.
3. Tie The Tree To Your Car
- Wear gloves: You’ve already packed gloves after step 1, so put them on! Gloves will make this process a lot less painful; you’ll thank us later.
- Put the tarp or blanket on top of your car: The blanket/tarp will protect your car from lots of tiny scratches. If you’re putting the tree in the trunk of your car, the tarp will also make cleaning easier.
- Put the top of the tree at the back: When the trunk of the tree is facing forward (towards the driver), it stays in place better, even when you’re braking. Plus, it prevents the tree’s limbs from getting ripped apart by winds as you drive.
- Tightly secure the tree: If you have a roof rack, once you put the tree on top of the car, lace the rope several times over the tree and through the roof rack. If you don’t have a roof rack, roll down the windows of the car and run the ropes through the car several times. Wiggle the tree, and if it moves, it’s not on tight enough. Losing your tree on the middle of the highway and causing a car accident is not a great way to start the holidays, so tie it extra tight.
4. Drive your Tree Home
- Your center of gravity is off: Your weight distribution is very different than normal. Expect your car to feel a bit weird when you’re driving, so stay alert. Maybe drive slowly around the parking lot a couple of times to make sure you get used to it.
- Avoid potholes: It’s best to avoid potholes any time it’s possible, but it’s especially important with a tree on your car. If you fly through a pothole with a tree on top of your car, you run the risk of it falling off. Plus, the added weight is taking a toll on the shocks as it’s jolting through the pothole, which puts your car at risk of long-term damages.
- Go slow: The most important thing: go slowly. Take surface streets or secondary roads so that you can keep your speed down. Take your time. Ease into stops. Use your turn signals. Drive carefully. Remember the tree is up there and be safe.
5. Remove the Tree From Your Car
- Remove sap quickly: There’s no hard-and-fast rule as to how long is too long before pine tree sap stains, but it’s best to get it off as quickly as possible (speaking from personal experience here). Cars.com suggests using bug and tar remover or rubbing alcohol.
- Clean your car: If your tree was inside your car, you’ll want a good vacuum to get rid of all the needles. While you’re at it, use this milestone as a reminder to think about getting your car ready for Winter.
Transporting a tree on your car roof can be dangerous, but with these handy tips it doesn’t have to stop you enjoying this family tradition. Still not sure? You can always rent a van for the day and get an extra big tree. Now all that’s left to do is put on some of your favorite Christmas carols and decorate!