If you’re headed out to buy a real Christmas tree to deck your halls this year, here’s what you need to know to keep your tree looking fresh through the holiday.

Cut it yourself. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, some trees are cut weeks before they’re sold. To ensure your tree lasts as long as possible, go to a farm that lets you chop it down yourself or find a nursery that will provide you with a freshly cut tree.

Secure the tree to your car while taking it home. Wrap it up and point the bottom of the tree forward to keep needles from being blown off, and make sure to tie it securely.

Cut off the bottom of the trunk. Experts say the sap from the tree can seal off the pores in the trunk once it’s cut, so sawing a few inches off the bottom before putting your tree in water will ensure it stays hydrated.

Water it. Make sure the tree stand is filled with water at all times, and make sure the water level never goes below the base of the tree. Some experts recommend 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.

Keep it away from heat sources. Real trees can be a serious fire hazard, so keep it away from heaters, ducts, candles and anything else that could ignite your tree. Use lights that produce low heat to keep your tree from igniting, and don’t overload electrical circuits. Always turn the tree lights off when leaving the house or going to bed.