PALM DESERT, Calif. -

 One of the best parts of the holidays - seeing how decorations light people up. Debbie Wagner wants to switch things up this year.

"We have an artificial every year. This year I though I'd like to try something different. I want that smell back," Wagner said. 

Picking out the perfect real tree at Aerni Trees on Washington and Delaware in Palm Desert brings Debbie excitement, but it also brings some risks.

"The holiday season, we do see an increase in fires, caused by Christmas trees. Also, people tend to use candles a lot more," Cal fire Battallion Chif Rick Griggs said. 

Start at the beginning - pick a tree that feels very fresh and flexible. Then make sure you cut a couple inches off the base. 

"That allows the sap built up in the bottom, that the tree tries to keep itself from losing, it allows to open the pathways up to pull water in. Water everyday," Griggs said. 

Then comes decorating safety. Check old lights - the cords may have frayed while in storage. Also, consider switching to new LED lights - they're cooler and use less electricity. 

It might get difficult with bigger trees, but try not to link together more than three strands of Christmas lights. 

Make sure the bulbs don't touch the tree, curtains or wrapped gifts. You may feel overly cautious -- as you should. 

"What you're doing is taking a plant, cutting it down, and as it dies it begins to decay. As that happens , it becomes more and more flammable. We see that in the summer with wild fires, same thing occurs but now you brought it in your house,” Griggs said. 

It's your home, so protect it and the ones you love.  

"The family around you, embrace them. Keep them there and safe,” Wagner said. 

The cheer can stay on, even with the lights off.