An expert explains the step-by-step process.

By Brigitt Earley
December 02, 2020
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You've picked out the perfect tree, but now you have to get it home safe and sound. Most tree lots or farms will do the heavy lifting for you, says Tim O'Connor, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association, but if the responsibility falls on your shoulders, fear not: It's not as hard as it sounds—and you don't need a special type of vehicle. 

family securing a Christmas tree to the roof of their car
Credit: Aleksandar Nakic / Getty Images

Of course, transporting your tree with a pickup truck is the path of least resistance. Simply place the tree in the bed of the truck and be on your way. It's not necessary, though. Even if you have a convertible, you can safely tie a Christmas tree to your car, says O'Connor. Here's how.

Prepare the vehicle and your supplies.

To start, you'll need just two supplies: scissors and twine. Though many lots and farms will have these items on hand, some don't. And you know what they say: It's better to be prepared. If bringing your own, consider using quality tie-downs such as heavy-duty Atwood Rope Battlecord ($12.50, amazon.com) or AUGO Ratchet Tie-Down Straps ($21.95, amazon.com). Before lifting your tree into place, consider wrapping it a tarp ($19.88, amazon.com) or a blanket, says O'Connor. Though this step isn't necessary, it's encouraged (especially if you have a car like a soft top convertible), since it will help protect the roof of your vehicle from scratches and sap, he explains. Here's how: Cut two pieces of twine to approximately the same width as your tarp or blanket; lay the two pieces of twine on the ground, one at each end of where the tree will go; lay the tarp over the pieces of twine, then place the tree atop that; wrap the tarp around the tree, then tie snugly on both ends.

Lift and position the tree.

Once you're ready to lift the tree up and onto your car, enlist the help of a second person, if possible. Like any other heavy items you lift, you should bend at the knees rather than lift with your back. Place the tree on the roof with the trunk facing forward, with the whole thing as centered on the middle of your car as possible. Be careful not to hit any antennas.

Tie it down.

Before tying, take note of your vehicle's features. Most standard cars don't come equipped with roof racks, but they do have safety handles just inside each door on the interior roof. If this is the case for you, start by opening your front car doors (not the windows). Take your twine and put the two ends together, creating a loop on one side. Pass the loop through the safety handle, then pass the two ends through the loop you created. Pull tight and center it on the handle. Close the door, making sure to keep tension on the twine. Toss the other end over the roof of your car, making sure it goes over the tree. On the opposite side of your car, pass the ends of the twine through the safety handle. Tie a trucker's knot: Pull slack on the line, and with two fingers, pinch creating a loop. Wrap that loop around the string, putting it in between your fingers, and pull through. Pull tight to create a strong loop to cinch your tree down. Finally, take the end that you've put through the handle and pull it through the loop you've just made. Pull down the end to cinch the rope tight over the tree. Tie this off by going around the twine and through the hole. Repeat this three times, then repeat this process at the back of the vehicle.

For vehicles that have roof racks, you'll want to follow the same process, except you'll affix the knots to the roof racks instead of the safety handles. For vehicles that don't have a roof rack or safety handles, follow these steps: Open both doors, toss the twine over the roof of the car, and meet the two ends in the center of the vehicle; put the two ends through the loop and pull tight; use the excess twine to create the same trucker's knot detailed in the method above.

Before you pull out of the lot and head home to trim your tree, check for any obstructions to your view. If necessary, tie these obstructions up and out of the way. You should also remove any excess twine, so there's nothing dangling as you drive off

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