A visit to a Christmas Tree farm is one of our family’s most treasured holiday traditions. Rain or shine, we’re there the weekend after Thanksgiving picking out our tree. The chilly air, filled with the smell of fresh pine and the sound of happy children running from tree to tree saying “Ooooh! What about this tree?” is a sip of the good life. Bringing home your freshly cut Christmas tree is the perfect beginning to Christmas.
Photo Courtesy of BigStock/urbanlight
The first year we moved into our own home, I was particularly excited as the holidays rolled around. One of my favorite features of the home was the living room with a 22-foot high ceiling. I had grandiose plans of visiting a U-cut Christmas Tree farm and bringing home a spectacular evergreen. However, what ensued was a comically funny story.
Photo by: Brennan Pang
The Very True Tale of Christmas Tree Farm Visit that Went Awry
At Four Winds Ranch all trees of any height are the same price. I was giddy. As we strolled through the farm, I rejected one tree after another because I was determined to fill every vertical inch with tree. After an hour of walking around the farm, we settled on a huge tree. This goliath had a 10″ trunk. It was so heavy we could barely lift it up onto the roof of the car.
However, upon arriving home, my greed quickly turned into hilarity. Our living room was on the second floor and required winding up a narrow flight of stairs. Hmmm…I didn’t think about that when picking out the tree. The Christmas tree farm also didn’t have one of those nifty tree netting machines and we had not considered the optimal way to carry a tree into the house. As soon as we got it through the doorway, it’s branches were caught in every corner and in the staircase banister. Like an umbrella stuck in a tree we were quickly at an impasse. For several hours we tried different things to free the tree of it’s predicament. Eventually, we resorted to cutting 3 feet off the tree, calling friends for help to hoist the tree up over the banisters, going to home depot at 11pm to buy the biggest tree stand we could find, and repairing and repainting the drywall.
Despite our fiasco, every year without fail, our family continues the tradition of visiting a Christmas tree farm. After much trial and error, I’m proud to say, we have our strategy mapped out to a tee. And my friends, I’m excited to pass on my hard-earned Christmas tree farm wisdom to you.
Photo by: Brennan Pang
10 Pro Tips for Visiting a Christmas Tree Farm
1. Christmas trees in the open are bigger than you think.
It’s a good idea to measure your floor to ceiling height or have an adult stand against a wall of the room to see how much space there is between their head and the ceiling. That will give you a rough guide as to how much taller than the person the tree can be. Some tree farms charge one price for any size tree while others charge by inch. If you have a tall ceiling, be sure to pick a farm that charges one price for any size tree.
2. Cozy up with hot chocolate and a picnic
Depending on what the weather is like where you live and the distance you need to drive to get to a Christmas tree farm, it’s a great idea to bring along some hot chocolate or apple cider in a thermos to warm the kids up and for some festive cheer. Some Christmas tree farms might also have picnic tables, so bring along a picnic if it’s not too cold out. Some farms like Rancho Siempre Verde near Pescadero, CA have a fire pit where you can warm up and roast hotdogs or marshmallows on a stick.
3. Leave a stump so Mr. Tree can grow back
Make your cut about 3-4 feet from the base, leaving about 5 branches, so that the tree can grow back again more quickly.
4. Shake and net your tree
Some Christmas tree farms include additional services like shaking, flocking, and netting. Some will include them for free and even tie the tree to car for you. Getting your tree shaken is worth every penny. It will save that carpet or living room rug once you get the tree into the house. And getting your tree netted is a must. It will help you avoid getting your tree stuck in the hallway like we did.
5. Lead with the bottom. Always.
Anytime you have to carry the tree, lead with the bottom to minimize the tree branches getting snagged. When tying the Christmas tree to your car, have the bottom towards the front of the car. It will tie on much more securely for the ride back home when 70 mph winds are trying to blow the tree off your car.
6. Bring cash
Many farms are in remote locations, and don’t take credit cards or checks. It’s a very very sad thing to go all the way to a Christmas tree farm and have to leave without your tree.
7. Have a sharp saw ready at home to make a fresh cut
Whether you have to trim your tree down to size like we did, or just need to make a 1/2 inch fresh cut to ensure your tree can drink water, having a sharp hand or power saw at home is a must. If you don’t make a fresh cut to your tree, it will dry out much faster. If your saw is blunt, you’ll end up hacking at that trunk and ruining your happy Christmas mood.
8. Keep Christmas trees away from fireplaces
Pine needles are full of aromatic oils that give off that glorious scent we love, but that also makes pine trees very flammable. Especially as the season wears on and your Christmas tree dries out. So, keep your tree away from fireplaces to reduce drying out and to prevent fires. A location out of direct sunlight is also a good idea if you want your Christmas tree to last longer.
9. Hand sanitizer or cooking spray will get off pine sap
It’s very likely that after carrying your tree into the house, either your car or your hands will have some sticky stubborn pine sap on it. The solution to your pine sap woes is to remove it with hand sanitizer gel or cooking spray.
10. Pine needles and vacuum cleaners do not mix
Oh, yes, I have tried to use a vacuum cleaner to pick pine needles of the floor or carpet. It’s a bad bad idea. Instead, to get pine needles out of carpet, use a stiff corn fiber hand whisk and dust pan. I highly recommend getting a large Christmas tree disposal bag to minimize pine needle clean up when you’re ready to box up your festive cheer till next year.
Photo by: Brennan Pang
Find a U-Cut Christmas Tree Farm
Do you live somewhere else? Find a u-cut Christmas Tree farm in your area on http://www.pickyourown.org or by searching for your state’s Christmas Tree Farm Association.
Do you hare a favorite Christmas Tree Farm? Write a review.