Every year, Will and I go on a "tree hunt" at the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm. For all of you that live in the Austin area and want a fantastic real Christmas tree (and the added adventure of cutting it down yourself), this place is the best. This is something we decided to do our first year of marriage and have kept it going ever since (I can't believe we are on year 5!!). It's definitely my most favorite Christmas tradition and something I know we will continue even when the kiddos come.
We have learned quite a bit over the past 5 years about how to find the perfect Christmas tree. Obviously, when you are cutting a tree down in nature, there really isn't a "perfect" tree, but I like to think that we have come pretty darn close! I think we get progressively better each year at finding a tree that is full and gorgeous (our first year we made a few mistakes which I will tell you about in the tips!). Whether you are cutting down a tree or looking for a real tree that is pre-cut, these tips can help immensely in getting that perfect, non-Charlie Brown tree.
STEER CLEAR OF TREES WITH LOTS OF BROWN NEEDLES
This tip is first because I would say it's one of the most important ones. Christmas tree companies usually shake the trees after you have picked them to get rid of any extra/loose needles before you take your tree home. Any brown needles that your tree has will fall off as it's shaken so if you have lots of brown needles, those will all disappear and leave you with a naked tree. This is the big mistake we made the first year. We thought we had this gorgeous, full tree but once they shook it we definitely had an almost-Charlie-Brown-Christmas-Tree. We even had to tie up some of the branches to cover up some of the holes that were left. It made for a great and funny memory, but we try and stick to mostly green trees these days!
LOOK FOR A STRAIGHT TRUNK
Since real trees grow out of the ground (duh), their trunks aren't always perfect. If you choose a tree that has a crooked or slanted trunk, your tree will most likely lean to one side when you place it in your tree stand. Sometimes it's possible to cut off the crooked part of the trunk, but that usually isn't the case and you are left with the leaning tower of Pisa for a tree. Definitely aim to have as straight of a trunk as you can find.
AVOID TREES WITH LARGE "HOLES"
We always look on all sides of the tree to make sure there aren't any large holes in the branches. If there are small holes that we think we could fill with an ornament, we usually let it slide, but if there are any large holes that would be pretty obvious, we move on to the next tree.
As far as caring for your tree, there are also a couple of things we have learned over the years.
CUT A TINY PIECE OFF THE TRUNK WHEN YOU GET HOME
This is especially important if you are buying a pre-cut tree. When trees sit out for a while, the sap tends to leak out of the bottom and can cover the bottom of the trunk. This can make it hard for your tree to get water when you put it in your tree stand. Just to be sure, we cut a little sliver off the bottom of the trunk when we get home to make sure that our tree can soak up plenty of water. We have even made a tradition where we make an ornament out of the piece of trunk and write the year on it so we can have that memory for years to come.
MAKE SURE YOUR TREE STAND IS BIG ENOUGH
This is yet another mistake we have made in the past. Make sure that your tree stand is large enough to water the size tree that you have. There are measurements and information on the box of the tree stand, so you should be able to find the right size easily. Otherwise, your tree won't get enough water and there is potential your tree could also fall over if your tree stand is too small.
WATER YOUR TREE WITH CLEAN WATER
Clean water is all it takes! We just make sure the tree stand is pretty full every day and we don't have any issues keeping our tree fresh for the whole Christmas season.
Tree hunting is one of the most fun and exciting parts of the season. It marks the start of the Christmas holiday and it gives me all the warm fuzzy feelings. Hopefully these tips can help you have a successful tree hunt of your own! Happy hunting!