I’m so excited for my first blog post. Blogging is not something I’ve ever thought I would do, or be good at. But as I continue on this new exciting journey, this particular post just came to me so easily!
Getting a real tree for Christmas is one of my most favorite traditions, and as I’ve seen so many more people jump on this trend this year, I wanted to share some tried and true tips.
My family has done this my whole life, so here’s 35 year’s worth of pro tips to help you at the tree farm if you want to cut down a real tree this Christmas.
At the Farm -
1. Wear the right clothing. It might seem obvious but it’s not. We go for jeans, boots, and leather jackets and gloves. Yes, it sounds like we’re greasers straight from the 50’s, but it’s what you need. Tree farms are just that, farms. It can be cold, dirty, and muddy, you do not want to be wearing your Christmas best to cut down a tree. Trees can have sharp needles and branches that will catch on everything! A lot of times, the tree farm is muddy. So when you’re lying on your side to cut the tree, examine the trunk, or spread apart the branches you’ll damage your clothes and cut up your fingers.
2. Bring your own saw – with a motor! Either a Saws-all or small chainsaw will do just fine. The tree farm will give you a hand saw to use for free, but if you’ve never cut a tree before the last thing you want to do is do it by hand. It’ll take 20minutes!
3. Be friendly with your saw. When people see what a brilliant idea you had, they’re going to ask if they can borrow it. We never let people borrow our saw (for safety reasons), instead my wonderful husband just cuts their tree for them. We usually cut our tree, then at least 2 or 3 more. It’s Christmas time, be generous!
4. Bring Cash, more than you think for the tree and a tip – a lot of tree farms are small local businesses that still operate on cash. Tree costs are based height, so for a full 8ft tree, plan for at least $80 - $100. The price can go up from there based on the species of tree as well.
The Tree Itself -
1. Get at least 1 foot taller than you need. The branches at the bottom are usually scraggly and bare. By getting a tree taller than you need or can technically “fit” this will give you that nice full look from the floor to the ceiling.
2. Check for dead branches and needles. If the tree is already looking dead when you see it at the farm, stay away from that one. That means the tree will drop needles quickly and continue to degrade when you cut it down and bring it home. You want to get the fullest healthiest looking tree you can. That ensures you’ll have a beautiful tree the whole holiday season. A well picked, healthy tree can last up to 6 weeks!
3. If at a tree lot, ask them to un-tie the tree. Don’t be shy, the folks at the tree farm or lot are there to help you and happy to do it. If you see a tree already tied up, ask them to un tie it.
4. Don’t hog the trees, there’s enough to go around. I always get so exicted at the tree farm and “ooo” and “aww” over the trees. This usually creates families who will follow us around. Don’t worry about this! Everyone is looking for something different, have fun doing your own thing.
5. Have them shake it and tie it up for you before you take it home. There is a machine that looks like a paint shaker, it’s used to shake the excess needles off. It’s hilarious! But so worth it! The tree farm staff will do this for free, and it’s not to be overlooked. By doing this, the excess needles, sap, sticks, and leaves, will be shaken off and you won’t bring it home with you.
6. Do not put the tree directly on the roof of your car! I see this all the time! Tree needles are sharp, and will wreck your paint! Put down a drop cloth before you strap the tree to your car.
1. Put a drop cloth under the tree stand. This helps to slide the tree around to put on lights and decorations. If on a metal stand, mount it on plywood and then on a drop cloth.
2. Don’t un-tie it until it’s vertical and stable in the tree stand. This one is key. Keep it wrapped as long as possible. It makes it easier to make sure it’s straight and secure. The last thing you want is the tree to be crooked and fall over!
3. Fill the stand with water before you untie it, and check water daily after that. The tree is real and to keep it looking great, just like any plant, the tree needs water regularly.
4. After you untie it, give it at least a few hours to “settle” before putting lights on it. Tree branches are flexible and will stay tight to the trunk for a while after bringing it home.
5. Use a broom and dust pan to clean up the needles – your vacuum cannot handle all of that.
1. Be sure to use a step stool for the tall branches
2. Be prepared for ornaments to “clump”. Not all branches are created equal, and not all ornaments are light weight. Be prepared to have more “clumps” when it’s decorated, it will still look stunning when it’s finished. It’ll just be a more natural look.
3. There will be bright spots and dark spots. Again, with some branches being strong or weak, there are ones that are fuller and thinner. Embrace the variation!
4. Be careful with heavy ornaments – do just let the ornament drop on the branch, it could drop to the floor and break. This one is important. Don’t just let the ornament drop, if you accidentally picked a weaker branch the ornament might break.
5. Be careful with hooks and loops, some trees with large needles can break ribbon loops or require bigger metal hooks.
Most important tip of all – put on Christmas music, grab your favorite holiday drink, and have fun! A real tree brings such life to the house at this time of year. Have fun with it!