How to Secure Your Christmas Tree to Your Car

Tips for getting your fresh tree home safely.

a smiling couple puts their Christmas tree into their hatchback vehicle with snow blowing outside
If you don't have a truck or a vehicle with a roof rack, place your tree inside your car. 
pikselstock / Shutterstock

Choosing the perfect Christmas tree is a beloved holiday tradition: short and squat, tall and thin, even branches or endearingly lopsided. But whatever kind of tree you choose, you’ll need to get it home safely. 

Transporting a fresh Christmas tree is no different than moving furniture, appliances, or other large objects. If your tree is not properly secured, you risk damaging your vehicle. Scratched paint, torn door seals, or distorted window frames are some of the more common issues caused by a poorly secured tree. Worse still, an improperly secured tree can fly off or out of your vehicle, becoming a danger to other drivers. 

A 2019 AAA survey showed 44 percent of Americans transported their Christmas trees home using unsafe methods. Twenty percent tied the tree to the roof of a vehicle without using a roof rack, while another 24 percent hauled a tree home unsecured in the bed of a pickup truck. And 16 percent of respondents have had a Christmas tree fall off or out of a vehicle—yikes!

a Christmas tree in netting secured to the rack on top of a car with building in background

If possible, wrap the tree in netting before tying it to your vehicle.  

Kit Leong / Shutterstock

It doesn’t have to be this way. Use these tips to feel confident driving your fresh Christmas tree home.

  • Bring strong rope or nylon ratchet straps, an old blanket, gloves, and of course, the right vehicle. One with a roof rack is ideal but a pickup truck, SUV, van, or minivan can work as well.
  • Measure your car in advance of your trip to the lot. If your car is too small inside for the tree you want, or doesn’t have a roof rack, rent or borrow a pickup truck or larger vehicle with a roof rack.
  • Once you’ve found the perfect tree, wrap it in netting. Secure loose branches with rope or twine to protect the tree from damage.
  • Cover the roof of your vehicle with an old blanket to prevent scratches.
  • Place the tree on the roof rack or in the bed of the truck with the tree’s trunk facing the front of the car. If the vehicle does not have a roof rack and is a SUV, van, or minivan, place the tree inside the vehicle. 
  • Skip the twine offered by many tree lots and opt for strong rope or nylon ratchet straps instead, securing the tree at its base, center, and top.
  • Use fixed vehicle tie-down points and loop the rope or strap around the tree trunk above a branch to prevent any side-to-side or front-to-rear movement.
  • Once you’ve tied the tree in place, tug on it from various angles to make sure it won’t come loose.
  • Drive slowly and take back roads if possible. Higher speeds create airflow that can damage your tree or challenge even the most effective tie-down methods.

It only takes a few extra minutes to secure your tree properly, ensuring you’ll get it home safely. Then, you can move on to the best part: lights, ornaments, action! 


This article was first published in November 2020 and was last updatedin November 2022.