• Go artificial, especially if you live where extreme heat or cold would speed the decay of a cut tree. Artificial trees have come a long way since Grandma's white-flocked monstrosity. The best part? You can pack it away and reuse it, making it the greenest option.
• Invest in unbreakable decor. You can buy shatterproof ornaments at many craft and Christmas stores. You can also get creative with found items like pinecones and shells. To this, I would add a tip that also works well indoors: Attach ornaments with florist's wire or fishing line. It's almost comical to see my cat try to bat ornaments to the floor now. They're like kitty pinatas that never break!
• Buy oversized tree lights for big visual impact — especially important for an outdoor tree. For a vintage look, choose multicolor strands, or stick with white for a sophisticated modern style. LED lights last longer and use less electricity.
• Prevent tip-overs in strong winds by attaching your tree to a permanent structure with fishing line, or weigh the base down with bags of sand.
• If you only have a tiny patio to show off your holiday spirit, pick up a pint-size living tree to decorate. Even better, buy one of those delicious-smelling rosemary topiaries, which will supply you with fresh herbs until next year, when it's time to break out the diminutive ornaments again.
Image: Coastal Living