Time to Find Your Christmas Tree

Are you ready for the mad dash through the rest of the holiday season? It’s hard to beat a real Christmas tree (smells so good!). Heading outside to find and cut this year’s Christmas tree is beloved tradition, so be sure to include this on your holiday to-do list. (Bonus: it’s great reason to get outside after eating so much at Thanksgiving!)

Coniferous trees are plentiful in many northern climates, which can make it really easy to find a suitable Christmas tree. Some of the most popular species for Christmas trees include:

  • Fraser fir
  • Douglas-fir
  • Balsam fir
  • Colorado blue spruce
  • Scotch pine
  • Eastern red cedar
  • Eastern white pine
  • White fir

When it comes to finding a tree, you have two options: you can go to a local tree farm and select one that has been grown to have the perfect form, or you can go looking for one in the woods.

White spruce leaves, or needles, are typically about a half-inch long, stiff, and slightly sharp on the ends. The needles are roundish and can be rolled between your fingers. When the needles are crushed, they give off an unpleasant odor.

Find a Tree Farm

There are Christmas tree farms that allow you to go out and select your own professionally-grown and manicured tree. The National Christmas Tree Association maintains a list of professional growers. Find your local tree farm on this map:

Find a Tree in the Woods

If you’re interested, you can have more fun finding a tree in the woods near where you live. If you want to find your own wild tree, some places are better than others for finding Christmas trees. It’s not necessary to go into the middle of the forest. Usually trees that are able to grow in the open, such as in old fields or along roads and trails often have fuller foliage because more the trees are exposed to more sun.

In my opinion, I prefer spruce and fir trees (particularly white spruce and balsam fir in our neck of the woods) because they naturally have that cone-shaped appearance that comes to mind when one thinks of a Christmas tree. That’s not to say that you can’t have a cedar or pine Christmas tree—those species are just likely to look a lot more sparse like that one from the Charlie Brown special. (Pro tip: If you want to recreate Charlie’s spindly tree, go with a pine.)
Also, be sure to only cut trees where you have permission! Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a permit from your local National Forest or state forestry agency.
Balsam fir needles are about the same length, but are flatter and are round on the ends. If grown in shade, the needles will tend to flatten out into two rows, one on each side of the stem. Most importantly, when the needles are crushed, they smell wonderful and fragrant and just like Christmas.

Your Supply List

Are you ready to go get your tree? Be sure to dress appropriately and take these things with you.

 Necessary supplies—
  • A saw: You will want a small handsaw to cut down the tree, and it doesn’t need to be anything particularly fancy or special.

Recommended supplies—

  • A tape measure: Trees can look smaller than they really are because there’s just so much more room outside. Use the tape measure to make sure the tree is actually going to fit it it’s place.
  • Rope or tie-downs: In addition to securing the tree to the vehicle for the ride home, rope or straps can also be helpful for dragging the tree out of the woods.
  • Pruning shears: Shears can be helpful for cutting lower branches of the tree stem. Or, grab a few extra branches for making a wreath.
  • Map and compass: if you’re heading out in the woods, be sure to know where you are going and have a plan to get out safely.

That’s it! Once your get your tree home, care for it by setting it up in a location away from major heat sources (heat vents, woodstoves, etc.) and making sure that the base is always submersed in water.

What do you do to get your Christmas Tree?