Dear Readers: The time is right to choose a fresh or artificial Christmas tree. First of all, there’s location, location, location in your home. Figure this out, and you’ll know what size tree you’ll need. A corner of your home usually works best (you can hide a bad spot and “anchor” the tree to the wall with some fishing wire so it won’t tip over), or in front of a picture window can be beautiful too, especially with glistening lights. The tree by the fireplace is a no-go — it’s too hot there, and it could be a fire hazard.

Check the needles on a live tree. Run your fingers from the trunk out on a branch — needles should not shed. Also, the tree should have a lovely fresh pine scent.

Place your live tree in a stand of fresh water immediately. Use a turkey baster or ice cubes to add water to the stand. Two weeks is about the right time to keep a live tree in your home.

Dear Heloise: I read your column in the Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser. Do you know of an easy procedure for "softening" that "new" finish on pants? I find the stiffness uncomfortable.

I've tried warm water with heavy liquid softener to no avail. I also tried adding a couple of dryer sheets to the dryer. I sure would like to hear from you.

The Old Fellow, via email

The Old Fellow: New garments are often treated with sizing to make them wrinkle less, but you’re correct: The sizing can make clothes stiff and uncomfortable.

What will I reach for? One of my favorite handy helpers — vinegar! Add 1 cup white vinegar to the final rinse cycle. It may take a couple of washes, but your clothes will be soft and fluffy.

Knowing how to properly launder different fabrics can be a daunting task. In my eight-page pamphlet Handy Stain Guide for Clothing, you’ll find a section on “Special Care Laundering Hints” and also “Understanding Care Labels.” To receive a copy, visit Heloise.com, or send a long, self-addressed, stamped (70 cents) envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Stains, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. FYI: To remove soap residue that can cause black clothing to look dull, rinse the items in a solution of clear water with vinegar added.

Dear Heloise: The instructions for using drain cleaner say to "pour 1/5 bottle in the drain." The bottle is opaque. How in the world do I know when I've poured too little or too much?

Why don't they manufacture it in a clear plastic bottle with lines denoting what is 1/5, 1/2, etc.? Seems like it would be cheaper for them to make rather than an opaque bottle. Or at least have a "stripe of clear" down the length of the bottle, again with lines measuring the amount.

C.D.B., Orange, Calif.

Dear Heloise: My wife and I put a four-cup coffeepot under the spout of our pod-using coffee maker (with the lid up to avoid splashing). We use the same pod to make two large cups. That will fill the four-cup pot. It works with almost any coffee pod with no sacrifice of flavor.

Doug in Ohio

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

2019, King Features Syndicate