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How to choose a Christmas tree

Whether you buy a pre-cut tree or head out to a tree farm to cut your own, choosing a Christmas tree is a lovely tradition that can also become a bit of a fun family lark. (Ahem. See video below.)

Planning to cut your own Christmas tree this year? Good for you. It’s a great way to spend time in nature, it’s a bit of exercise, and it’s a fine way to start the year’s festivities. Because once you get the tree up, the Christmas season really begins, right? Next up, carols and cookies!

In this week’s video, join Gardenstead’s president Katie Macdonald and her kids Rhys and Charlie, on their cut-your-own-tree adventure. They hopped in the van, took a trip to Hockey Valley Farm, a beautiful Christmas tree farm just north of Toronto and had a great (and slightly silly) time exploring the grove — in search of the perfect tree.

Our intrepid searchers found their tree, but there was one bump in the road on their adventure. Find out what it was in the video below, and then read on for five tips for finding (and getting home) the Christmas tree of your seasonal dreams in the article to follow.

Five tips for your Christmas tree adventure

1. Cutting your own tree? Go early in the season

If you’ve watched the video, you know by now that the bump in the road for their adventure was that by the time Katie and company got to their destination, the farm had run out of cut-your-own trees. It takes 10 years or more to grow trees to a suitable height to be marketable Christmas trees, so farms have to limit what’s taken from the rows of pine and fir trees. Lesson learned.

2. Prepare for your adventure

Dress for the weather, and wear suitable footwear for muddy and/or snowy conditions. Depending on where you live, it can get chilly tramping around in rows of trees in December. Even in the relatively mild temperatures of their early winter trip, Katie says she felt the chill in the air later in the afternoon, and was glad to be warmly dressed.

3. Bring tools and a blanket

Bring a measuring tape to make sure the tree you’re getting will fit your space. Don’t forget to factor in the height of the tree stand!

Bring a saw, just in case. Many tree farms will supply saws for borrowing, but it doesn’t hurt to have one on hand. When you’re cutting your tree, cut as close to the ground as possible, and have someone bend the tree away from the cut, to make it easier.

Bring rope or tie-down straps for securing the tree, if you have them. The farm we went to wrapped the tree for us, and they had sturdy nylon string available, which we used to tie the tree to the top of Katie’s van. But if you want to make extra sure, bring your own rope or straps.

Okay, but why a blanket? You can use a blanket to protect the inside or roof of your vehicle, depending on how you choose to transport your tree.

4. If it’s snowy, bring a toboggan or sled

Because what better way to transport the tree than by sliding it along the row on a toboggan? Plus, how Instagram-worthy would those shots be? We can see you nodding your head.

5. Make it a family trip or bring a friend

Katie says her biggest worry in the whole venture was how to get the tree on top of her van. Which, as you can see in the video, she managed like a rockstar. But if that’s a concern for you, bring a friend, or bring the whole family — that way you’ll have help.

After all, Katie had ever-so-able assistance from Charlie carrying the tree to the car, and both kids obviously had a wonderful afternoon out in nature. So it’ll be a win-win for everyone.

How did the tradition of trees at Christmas start?

In ancient times, plants and trees that stayed green throughout winter had special meaning. In many countries, evergreens were thought to ward off evil spirits, illness and ghosts (among other things). Early Romans and Egyptians created evergreen decorations and hung wreaths of boughs on doors to protect their homes and families.

The modern tradition of the Christmas tree dates 16th century Germany, when devout Christians began to bring decorated trees into their homes during the festive season. And putting lights on trees? Apparently we can credit that to Martin Luther, who, it’s said by historians, added candles to a tree to recapture a scene he’d seen of stars twinkling through the tree boughs on a wintry walk home one evening.

Now you know.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

yellow petaled flower by elias sorey unsplash

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