If you’re looking to save money, have a truly traditional Christmas experience and have fun in the process, cutting down your own Christmas tree is a great option. And don’t worry; it isn’t nearly as hard or intimidating as you may think!
Nothing kills a Christmas tree hunt quite like wet feet and numb fingers. Keep in mind you’re likely to walk through sizable piles of snow in below-zero weather when you head out to find your perfect tree. And if you don’t dress appropriately, you may be inclined to quit early and settle on a tree that’s less than perfect. Throw style out the window for the day, and dress as you would have as a child. That means big, waterproof boots; heavy socks; warm snow pants; a winter coat; a woollen or fleece hat; and sturdy gloves you won’t mind getting dirty. And make sure anyone going with you does the same. This will ensure you can take your time and pick the ideal Christmas tree.
Know your measurements
Before you leave the house, write down the measurements you’re working with. You need to know how much space there is from floor to ceiling and how wide you can go with the branches. Many first-time tree cutters underestimate the size of the trees they’re looking at and wind up picking something far too tall. You’ll want to pick a tree that allows at least a foot of space between its top and the ceiling so you can add your tree topper. For the most part, the height added by the tree base’s holder and lost when you cut it balance each other out, but those are aspects you may want to take into account as well. Jim Smith has owned and operated the family-run Smiths’ Trees for over 30 years. His tip for proper tree selection is to see how high you can reach in the space where the tree will go and then use your body in the same way to measure trees at the farm.
Bring the right tools
Some farms such as Smiths’ Trees have saws you can borrow, but it doesn’t hurt to pack one just in case. You’ll also need warm and durable work gloves. Most large tree farms have a baler that wraps the tree up tightly for you, but if not, they will likely have twine you can use to wrap it up yourself. You’ll also need ropes to tie the tree to your roof rack and secure it to the undercarriage and sides. And a sheet or old blanket is helpful in preventing the tree from scratching the roof of your car. Keep in mind that the bottom of the tree belongs at the front of the car. Proper tree tying varies depending on the size of tree and type of car, so don’t hesitate to get help from the staff to ensure attaching it safely. The last thing you want is for your tree to come loose on the highway, so make sure a professional helps you secure it in place. Another alternative Smith suggests is if your chosen a tree is under seven feet, open the trunk, and attach the tree sideways to the arches inside.
Do your research
Many tree farms these days have basic websites that let you know what they have available in terms of trees as well as amenities. If the one you want to visit doesn’t have a website, call before you head out. If you have your eye on a particular kind of tree (spruce, pine, fir, etc.), check to ensure it has that variety available — and in the size you require. Going out there only to discover what you want isn’t available can be disappointing, so be sure to plan ahead. By calling in advance you can also find out when its busiest time is so you can visit when you’re sure to get assistance if necessary. Many tree farms also offer special treats such as hot chocolate or tours for the kids, so ask about that as well. Calling ahead also presents the opportunity to ask whether the farm accepts credit or debit cards, or if you’ll need to bring cash.