Getting your holiday tree from a tree farm not only can become an anticipated family tradition, it gives you an excuse to give your family and your camera a little exercise and fresh air. If you're planning on trekking to a tree farm this year, here are a few things you should know before you head out:
Bundle up! No one needs to be told Chicago winters can be brutal, but Jim Keller of Cupola House Tree Farms let us know it tends to be even colder and windier out in the country. Boots and clothes you don't mind getting a little dirty are a safe bet for snowy and muddy situations. Our advice? Overdress. You can always peel back the layers if the weather is kinder than expected.
Know your home measurements. Make sure you know how high your ceiling is before you leave. You don't want to bring a tree all the way home only to realize it's too tall. "It's surprising how many people come out and they have an 8-foot ceiling and they cut a 14-foot tree," says Charles Ide of Ide Christmas Tree Farm.
The more the merrier. While bringing an additional person definitely means more merriment, it also means an easier time chopping down your tree. Most tree farms provide saws, but they won't provide extra hands to help. Both of our expert tree farmers suggest two physically capable people as opposed to just one when it comes to sawing the tree. An extra person pushing the tree in the direction of the fall while you cut means you won't be completely exhausted. Don't forget you still have to get that tree home!
Once you get home, put the tree in room temperature water right away. While the recommended time on how long the tree can go without water differs from farmer to farmer, if the bottom of the tree has sapped over before you get it in water, cut about a half inch from the bottom. Once you've got the tree in some water, keep the tree away from direct lighting, fireplaces, heat registers and other heat and light sources.
Make it a day trip. If you're looking for a way to get your sedentary family to be a little more active, a trip to a tree farm is the perfect outing. Nowadays, there's a lot more to do at tree farms than chopping down a tree and dragging it home. Cupola House Tree Farms offers hay rides and a warming fire, for instance. The acres upon acres at tree farms are perfect for hide-and-seek or other winter wonderland shenanigans. Food, drink and camera and you're all set for a fun-filled day the family's going to look forward to every year.