Make the most of Christmas tree shopping

Shopping malls weren't the only places seeing a lot of foot traffic on Black Friday. Christmas tree lots were a hot spot for many shoppers eager to start decorating for the holidays.

"It's the smell. You can't beat the smell. It kind of sets that tone for Christmas, like the switch that begins," said Adam Fritz, who chooses his tree the day after Thanksgiving every year at Great Lakes Christmas Tree Farm, 5107 N 22nd Street, in Tampa.

"It seems like every year everybody wants to get their tree up a little earlier than last year," said John Sansone, the owner and operator at Great Lakes.

Sansone said his family business has made it through 40 years of Christmas.

"I'm the fourth generation and my two sons and two daughters will be the fifth generation. Every year we're all involved in it," said Sansone.

His trees are shipped fresh from North Carolina and Michigan. They are typically sold in Tampa the same day they are cut.

Sansone said his warehouse, stocked with Christmas trees sells out within a few days, throughout the holiday season, he frequently gets new shipments.

Every shopper seems to have a different idea of what makes the perfect Christmas tree.

"I'm definitely looking for something that's very full and has a very balanced shape to it," said Fritz.

"I like to make sure that the stem is straight, so the tree will stand vertical real nice. It's got a nice top to it," said Abbey Ahern, who bought a tree and Christmas wreaths on Friday.

Sansone recommends shaking your tree out before decorating it to remove lose pine needles and open up the branches so air can get to the tree. He also said putting the stump in water as soon as the tree gets home will keep it healthy longer.

"The main thing is get the air to the tree and get the water to the stump," explained Sansone.

He said shoppers should never buy a tree that has brown areas, because it's a good indicator that the tree is too dry.