For some people, an artificial Christmas tree just won’t do. They want a REAL Christmas tree. While some people may head to the nearest tree lot to pick out their tree, traditionalists believe “lot trees” won’t do either. After all, the majority of the trees on lots was cut down several weeks earlier, which means they’ll likely start losing their needles once they’re placed up inside. For the traditionalist, a Christmas tree is just not a Christmas tree if you haven’t cut it down yourself.
Whether you’re a Christmas tree traditionalist or you just want a change this year, here are some tips to keep in mind before you drive to the nearest Christmas tree farm to cut down your family’s tree.
- Determine where you’ll be displaying the tree in your home. Measure the height and width of the space (think about what type of tree topper you’ll have since it may affect the needed height). Depending upon the space, determine if you’ll need a tree with four sides that look good (like in front of a window), three good sides (against a wall) or two good sides (in a corner).
- Research different Christmas tree types to decide which you like the best and which will hold their needles longer. Also, choose a tree that works well for the climate in your home. For example, if your home is really dry, a spruce wouldn’t last as long.
- Dress for the occasion. Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes or boots (the farm may be muddy); warm, layered clothing; and hats and gloves.
- Pack needed items, such a tape measure (you don’t want to buy a tree that’s too tall), baby wipes to remove dirt and sap from your hands, a thermos of hot chocolate, plastic or insulated cups, and the camera.
- Check with the tree farm to determine if you need to bring a hand saw (most farms provide hand saws but don’t allow chain saws), netting for handling and transporting the tree, rope to tie the tree to
your vehicle, and a tarp or plastic to keep the tree from drying out on the trip home.
- Leave your dog at home (many farms prohibit pets). However, if the farm allows pets, keep your dog leashed at all times. Also, don’t let him “mark” other people’s trees.
- Ask about pricing before you head out to the field. Some farms sell their trees by the foot while others price their trees individually.
- Watch out for tree stumps, fire-ant mounds and uneven ground while walking around in the field.
- Select a tree that meets your predetermined needs. Make sure the tree is healthy. Look at the needles. They should be flexible and resilient. If a lot of needles fall off, the tree may be too dry. Test the limbs to make sure they can hold ornaments, lights and garland. Check for a fresh, evergreen smell.
- Ensure the tree truck is as straight as possible. Also, you’ll need to have a base or handle that is 6-8 inches long, so the tree will fit easily into your stand.
- Check for and remove any bird nests. They’re a potential fire hazard.
- Have two people help with cutting the tree down. Cut the tree straight across, so it’ll sit correctly in your tree stand. If you can’t make a straight cut, ask someone at the farm if they can cut the tree truck straight before you leave.
- Take the tree to the processing area after it’s cut down. The workers will shake or blow the tree to remove loose needles. Also they’ll net the tree.
- Purchase a tree removal bag, if available. The bag will help keep your floors clean when the tree is removed after the holidays.
- Tie the tree to your vehicle and cover it with a tarp to protect it from the wind. If a worker helps tie the tree to your vehicle, remember to tip him.
- Keep your tree in the garage, not outside, if you’re not putting it up right away. Place the tree in a bucket of water. When you’re ready to place the tree in your home, make a fresh cut in the truck. Add fresh water to the stand every day, if needed.
Cutting down your Christmas tree can be a fun activity for everyone in your family. And, remember, to take lots of photos to document your outing.
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