Even tough guys can get in the Christmas spirit – or at least the wife, girlfriend, or kids will get you there when it comes to putting up that traditional Christmas tree. Whether you’re looking for some foliage only smaller than a redwood, or maybe your tastes are more modest, chopping down your own Christmas tree can add to the season. And the entire at least requires a bit of testosterone.
However, getting that perfect tree from the forest to the living room may require some work. Here’s a look at how to chop down the perfect Christmas tree, which may also please the spouse and little ones expecting some deliveries from St. Nick in this critical area.
Obviously, any Christmas-cutting Santa can’t just go out to the nearest city park and start hacking away. Make sure you have permission to cut down a tree. No one wants to be caught green-handed and get the gift of a trespassing citation.
A friend or relative with some land in the country is probably a better choice. Some Christmas tree vendors also allow customers to chop down their own trees right on-site. This offers quite a merry way to get the job done, and the tree lot vendors will often help with branch binding and loading up.
Some national and state parks have programs allowing locals to chop down one tree yearly. For example, New Mexico’s Lincoln National Forest allows locals to hike into the woods and take that perfect tree home for about ten bucks.
If you’re participating in one of these programs, stay in the appropriate areas and follow guidelines. But trekking off into a national forest for that perfect piece of greenery can be quite a Christmas adventure.
No one wants a tree as large as Clark Griswold scoped out. Branches breaking windows leads to some extra home repair that is anything but the best Christmas ever.
Get out the tape measure and go full Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor (or maybe Al Borland would be better) when planning for your tree size requirements. Leave plenty of room and take a pic with your phone to help visualize your magical winter tree selection.
When it comes to types of trees, some of the most common trees are various species of fir, spruce, or pine. Your selection will depend on what grows in your region, and selecting a healthy tree is also essential.
“Choose a healthy tree by feeling the branches,” HGTV notes. “Needles should be pliable and stay in place when touched.”
The tree trunk should have a slight stickiness to it. Also, bend a needle in half to check its pliability. Fresh firs will snap, and pines shouldn’t break. Even Cousin Eddie could pick out a grand Christmas tree with little analysis.
Christmas Vacation may be the perfect holiday family film, but no one wants to be out in the middle of the snowy woods without a saw to chop down the tree. Thinking ahead may help you avoid embarrassing regrets – or having to pull a Griswold and dig that perfect fir out by the roots.
So make sure that a traditional hand saw or chainsaw is ready to go. Chainsaw owners would be wise to ensure the tool is gassed up and oiled. Gloves and some safety glasses are a good idea too. The act of then cutting down the tree is pretty simple.
A piece of cardboard can help when laying or stooping down for that perfect cut, especially if it’s been raining or snowing. Saw at the base of the trunk and try to make as straight of a cut as possible. A standing friend can hold the tree and keep it from falling over and possibly breaking branches or landing on your cranium.
Once you’ve chopped down the Christmas tree, remove any excess branches right near the base. Some sturdy twine or wire can then bind the branches upward to help transport the tree to that perfect spot back home. Christmas presents will soon be loaded under your lush sapling. Will it be a new necktie or box of chocolate-covered cherries from the kids this year?
Now that the tree is chopped down and made home, making sure it actually survives through the holidays is critical. Keep the tree watered so it lasts longer and stays in excellent shape.
Use a reservoir-style tree stand. Bob Villa recommends “fill the stand with one quart of cool tap water for each inch of the stem within two hours of getting it home.”
Who can argue with Bob Villa? A well-maintained tree can last up to four weeks, perfect for getting in all that decorating, gift-giving, and, of course, all those Facebook and Instagram photos.