A tripod isn't essential for most photography. The only reason to use a tripod during daylight hours is when you want to use a long shutter speed to create a particular effect, like using an ND filter to blur a waterfall. When you're photographing at night though, being able to support your camera without touching it is extremely useful.
1. Beware of Shake
Your camera is already protected from shake by the tripod, right? Not quite. Even the simple act of pressing the shutter button will shake the sensor enough to produce unwanted blur. Avoid this by using a cheap, wireless remote control. No remote? Look in the manual to see if your camera has a two-second self-timer.
2. A Tripod Steadies the Camera, Not the Subject
Sometimes, as with photographing moving traffic, you want motion blur in your camera. But other moving objects—people or even slow moving objects—will look as though they're dashing around in the final shot. If your chosen subject is a person, make sure they remain still until the image is taken.
3. Keep an Eye on It
Your tripod might look steady as a rock, but it could still be top-heavy, especially if you've upgraded your camera but not your tripod. A knock from the right direction could topple it. When in doubt, keep your camera’s strap around your neck as a failsafe.