This idea seems very simple and obvious, yet I have been told repeatedly by friends that it never occurred to them, so I thought I'd share it. One of the most frustrating things about putting up a Christmas tree is attaching the stand and stringing the lights. A few years ago I came up with the idea of doing it all outside on my patio. We bring the tree in from the car, untie it and stand it in a bucket of water overnight, to allow the branches to settle, and the tree to take up as much water as possible.
The following day my son helps me place the tree into the stand and I climb underneath to attach the stand to the tree trunk. Now that it's safely in the stand, we are free to walk all the way around the tree to determine which is the best side to display towards the front. Next I proceed to string the lights,(after I have checked to make sure they are in good working order.) You can't imagine how much easier it is to apply the lights while being able to walk all the way around the tree. It usually takes no more than 10 minutes for a 6 foot tree. As a side note, since we always place our tree in the corner of the living room, I don't bother to wrap the lights all the way around the tree. Starting at the top, I just go about 2/3 of the way around, then go back and forth until I have used all of the lights. I then plug the strands into my outdoor outlet, (though an extension cord plugged into the garage would work just as well,) to see if I have any gaping holes in the lights, and I can make adjustments as needed.
When I'm finished, I unplug the lights, and my son and I carefully carry the tree upstairs and into the living room. If you live in a snowy climate or don't have a patio, you could just as easily perform this set-up in the garage, then carry the tree inside. (You might also consider placing the tree inside one of those giant tree bags which can be purchased at most discount department stores, to prevent dropping needles on the floor while transporting it, but I find if the tree is fresh enough, it doesn't tend to drop too many needles. Once you try this method, you'll never do it any other way. You can also do the same procedure in reverse when it comes time to remove the tree.
By Donna from San Diego, CA