Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to Buy a Christmas Tree: Part Three

Your Visit to a "Cut Your Own" Christmas Tree Farm:

Another way to buy a Christmas tree is from a "Cut Your Own: or "U Cut" Christmas tree farm or plantation.  Since I've only actually cut my own Christmas tree twice, I had to turn to the experts -- various "Cut Your Own" tree growers and the great folks over at the National Christmas Tree Association for advice.  Here are some tips on how to buy a Christmas tree from a Christmas tree farm:
  1. Before you race off to buy a Christmas tree, know the size of the space where you will be putting your tree.  What I did not realize is that most trees destined to become Christmas trees are trimmed to an 80 degree taper.  What that translates to:  a 10 foot tree will be 8 feet wide at the bottom branches.  Yikes!  My little living room is only 14 x 14 and would be way to small for a 10 foot tree, even if I had the ceiling height to accommodate it.
  2. How you intend to decorate your tree can determine what type of tree you are looking for.  If it's just going to be lights or maybe some origami ornaments, ribbons or bows, you can go with a tree that has more limber branches.  Lot's of hanging ornaments?  You'll need a sturdy-branched tree with plenty of space between the branches.  I have found it easier to hang ornaments from a short needled tree, but it's harder to hide the wires from the lights.
  3. Before you even leave the house, contact the tree farm ahead of time.  You can find out what kind of trees they grow, and if they have shipped in any specialty trees.  Find out what their hours are and do you need to bring a saw.  Ask them about their pricing -- by the tree or by the foot?  And -- if you are Christmas tree chopping with kids, pregnant women or old people, see if there any bathroom facilities.  If you like people and have plenty of time set aside to buy your Christmas tree, find out when their busiest time is.  Interacting with other families can add a lot of holiday spirit to the adventure.  Like the quite solitude?  Some "Cut Your Own" Christmas tree farms have night time hours.
  4. Ask if this "Cut Your Own" Christmas tree farm has a baler.  If not, you'll need to bring enough rope to not only tie the Christmas tree to the vehicle, but rope to tie the branches up close to the trunk for transport and protection. Check out the farm rules such as whether or not they allow outside dogs.  Just because it's a farm, doesn't necessarily mean that dogs are welcome.  I have a ranch, and I know people with farms and ranches.  Farm and ranch dogs can be territorial.  It's their job. And how do you know that YOUR dog might be too aggressive.  Maybe you should take Buddy to the dog park instead.  And, please, if your dog does accompany when you go out to buy a Christmas tree, don't forget to pick up what your dog leaves behind.
  5. Safety, Safety, Safety.  At a "Cut Your Own" Christmas tree farm, when trees are harvested, part of the stump remains.  It's not a problem to walk around them if the ground is frozen and bare, but hard to see when covered with a foot of snow.  Walk slowly. 
  6. Keep an eye on your children.  They can get far away very fast when they are looking for the perfect Christmas tree.
  7. Dress accordingly.  Don't forget to bring some work gloves for the person who will be handling the tree.  Boots and heavy socks if there is snow.  Bring jackets, sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens.  Here in tropical southwest Florida we usually wear jeans, tennis shoes along with our special holiday Aloha shirts.  Everyone brings a bottle of water in order to stay hydrated.  However, maybe your Christmas tree cutting experience will include a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee.  Some "Cut Your Own" Christmas tree farms even have refreshments available.  I know! Could it be any better?
  8. Bring your camera and/or camcorder.  When you mix the Christmas spirit with children and tools, there's a good chance hijinx will ensue.  Not only will you be teaching your kids the valuable lesson of how to buy a Christmas tree, you'll be making memories as well.  Learning AND fun?  it's a win/win situation for everyone.
  9. While searching far afield for the perfect Christmas tree, don't cause damage to other trees, such as breaking branches or even starting to cut a tree then changing your mind.  Or peeing on them when you think no one is looking. 
  10. Once you've found the perfect Christmas tree, take a few moments to exam the trunk.  Sometimes beauty is really only skin deep.  Magnificent color, shape and you already know how fresh it is -- but if the trunk is as crooked as a politician, you'll have to decide just how important your marriage is.  This would also be a good time to check for squirrels, bugs and other critters.  Remember Christmas Vacation?

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