My family is notorious for decorating at the last minute… like, the last, last minute. It’s not uncommon for us to be gathered in the living room around a naked spruce on Christmas Eve, asking ourselves “how late are we willing to stay up tonight?”
We do, however, have a good reason for trimming the tree at the eleventh hour — cutting down our own tree is a family tradition! And Mum & Dad always wait until the ‘kids’ (ie. their adult children) drive-in from out of town. It’s an activity we look forward to every year! After years of trekking through the woods in search of the perfect tree, I’ve come up with a few things everyone should know before they pull out the hacksaw.
1 // Respect The Land
My family goes to a local plot of forested land owned by a plaid-wearing Frenchman named Guy. He’s been in the Christmas tree biz for over 30 years, and makes sure that what gets cut is replanted. If you’re cutting on your own land, think about forming a summertime tradition of replanting cut trees! And as a rule, never remove trees from property that you don’t own or haven’t received permission to use. Forest location may depend on what kind of tree you’re after; Evergreen has a great article on selecting the right type of tree for you!
2 // Dress Properly
You may be trekking through knee high snow, so make sure you layer up! Long John’s are a must, topped with snow pants and water proof boots. You’ll also want to wear a sturdy pair of gloves that can stand sharp needles and tree sap — basically, avoid wearing cute mittens! As for your choice of hat and scarf however? Anything goes!
3 // Bring the Right Tools
Ok, this piece of advice will save you a headache later on: Bring a tape measure! Trees somehow look smaller in the great outdoors, so if you underestimate its size, you’ll have to cut the top off when it won’t fit in your living room! We’ve learnt this the hard way… more than once. You’ll also need a saw of course! We always opt for the good ol’ hack saw which makes us feel extra woodsy. Other things to bring along include a tarp to protect your vehicle, and lots of rope to tie the tree securely to your ride. Oh, and a thermos of hot chocolate (this counts as fuel right?).
4 // Prep your Tree Before Bringing it Indoors
Once you’ve got your tree home, store it in a cool, sheltered place, such as the garage, for 24 hours. This allows snow to melt off the branches before brining it indoors (no one wants puddles in the living room!) Cut 1-2 cm off the tree stump before placing it in a stand. Fill the stand with warm water within four hours (3-4 litres is good), or the cut will be sealed by sap, and your beautiful tree won’t be able to drink!
5 // Care for your Tree
To keep your tree well hydrated — and avoid a floor confettied with needles — add fresh water twice a day. Live Christmas trees drink a lot in the first couple of weeks! Be diligent and you’ll be rewarded with healthy green branches all season long. That said, some drying will naturally occur, so keep your tree away from sources of heat, and be sure to turn off the Christmas lights when you go to sleep. If you love the idea of a lighted tree gracing your home well into the night, opt for a timer that will automatically shut off the lights at 1am for example.
I hope you enjoy this family tradition as much as I do! Wishing you a very festive and joyous holiday season,