When it’s time to decorate for the holidays, many families choose to use a real tree instead of an artificial one. Whether your imagination conjures up a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting or a scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you’ll understand that the act of going out with the family to select – and even cut down – your own tree can be a memorable way to jump start your holiday celebration.
The most commonly grown trees in Ontario are pine, fir and spruce, with several varieties of each in between. You can choose to buy a pre-cut tree or harvest your own. At most locations, you’ll find varieties that include Fraser, Balsam, or Canaan Fir; Scotch, White or Austrian Pine; and green, blue, white Norway or Colorado Spruce.
Make a Day of It
What makes going out to get a natural tree fun is the experiences and activities that can surround it. Hopping in the car with friends and family turns going out merely to buy a tree into a half or all-day excursion. Check online first, but most farms open for business in mid-November with activities that go beyond finding that perfect pine. Go for a wagon or sleigh ride, sit around the bonfire, visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, do some gift shopping, and simply revel in the fresh forest air and splendour of the season. When there’s snow on the ground, bring toboggans for a few rides down the hill.
Wills Christmas Store & Tree Farm is a 176-acre farm with a unique picture-perfect Christmas store stocked with gifts and décor. The tree farm also offers bonfires on weekends, baked goods and gingerbread cookie decorating for the kids. Marks Christmas Trees also offers hot cider and rides on weekends (weather permitting).If you plan to harvest your own tree, get to chopping during the daytime. If you want to buy a pre-cut tree, shopping for one later in the day can be even more magical with the lights and displays lighting up the evening.
Did you know that Christmas trees have their own government bill? Bill 185 states that the first Sunday of December has been declared National Christmas Tree Day. Of course, you can pick your tree whenever you choose and when you do, being outdoors finding the perfect tree will make lasting memories for everyone.
Tips for Tree Trekking
Tools & Equipment
Saws are usually provided. Some places wrap (or bale) and tie the tree on your car. Bring your own bungee cords and rope just in case. Call ahead to find out.
Trees should receive a good shake before bringing them indoors; although the tree was probably home to a few creatures outside, you don’t want to bring them home for the holidays.
Don’t rush things. Take time to explore the farm, explore gift shops, chat with the growers, enjoy a hot beverage and a wagon or sleigh ride, if offered.
What to Wear
Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty; boots, and heavy gloves for handling the tree; dress in layers and prepare for chilly weather with hats and mittens.
What To Pack
Bring snacks and water if you choose, or enjoy the farm’s café
Bring the camera to capture the day.
by BECKY DUMAIS