We are real Christmas tree people.
Upon moving to Colorado early in our marriage, we were shocked to find that people would live surrounded by towering Ponderosa pines and other coniferous trees but think that having a fake tree for Christmas is acceptable.
(I am not opinionated about this at all.)
With the exception of one tree that I will definitely share with you in a minute, we have had awesome real Christmas trees for the past seven years and I am here to tell you how to have an awesome experience yourself.
Most people have three problems with real trees:
- The trees are a mess and drop needles everywhere.
- Residents in the home are allergic.
- Christmas tree stands are a pain to set up.
I can solve these problems for you. (Well, except for the allergy part, but I do have a few comments on it.)
Christmas trees can absolutely be a gigantic mess, but they don’t have to be. We have discovered that if you cut down your own tree or purchase a local tree that is relatively freshly cut (like 1-2 weeks, not 1-2 months), they can last quite a long time (up to two months) without dropping any more needles than your fake tree will.
The key is to get a tree that is suited for your climate. Look, Colorado is a semi-arid area and there is just not enough moisture in the air to keep an East Coast tree fresh, especially when it was cut months ago and spray painted green so you wouldn’t realize it’s already 3/4 dead.
We proved this last year when I wanted to save money and convinced Jeremy to buy a beautiful East Coast tree from Whole Foods. It was $50 and it was absolutely lovely…
Well, it was lovely for two weeks, after which it dried out and turned brown and shed needles everywhere. That was the worst Christmas tree we have ever had and we will never buy a tree at a store again.
The trees we have purchased at a local tree farm or a local nursery have been joyous experiences – truly.
There was the tree that still had a ton of pinecones on it. Listening to the pinecones “pop” as they dry out is awesome. There was the one that was sprouting new growth by the time January came around. All of the local ones have drank a lot of water for the first few days, and then we’ve only had to add water once a week, if that. And they drop very few needles and leak some sap, but not much.
The pines that are grown in Colorado are not as shapely as the ones grown in the east, I’ll admit, but we like their whimsicalness. The one we got from Harding Nursery in 2011 (above) was still somewhat quirky but just beautiful. You can get a better-shaped one if you are willing to not have the biggest Christmas tree among your group friends (Jeremy isn’t).
As far as the allergy issue, well, as much as I’d like to say “it’s worth it”, I won’t. ;). If it’s smell of the tree that triggers allergic reactions, you should know that the Scotch pine and white fir trees we’ve had over the years haven’t smelled at all.
There’s also an issue of mold collecting on trees, and allergic reactions to that once it’s inside your house. I’m certainly not going to tell you to ignore that if it’s an issue for you, but keep in mind that the dust on your ornaments and artificial trees could be just as irritating. While there is plenty of information about mold on Christmas trees, I couldn’t find any information that compared mold spores on truly fresh-cut Christmas trees in a dry climate versus long-cut Christmas trees in a humid environment, and I would be curious to know if that makes a difference, because it seems like it could. Just something to think about in regards to allergies, though I can’t say whether or not I would be willing to take a chance myself if I thought myself allergic to real trees.
And finally, most Christmas tree stands are a pain to set up. After having experience wrestling with his parents’ tree stands a couple of times (they don’t get a real one anymore, haha!), Jeremy knew he had to find something other than the dumb plastic ones so the first year we got a real tree, we bought Grinnen’s Last Stand and love love love this thing. Like I said, Jeremy likes the big trees and we’ve had ones up to 14 feet with this stand and they have never been anything but sturdy.
I’m convinced that unless you are the grinch, you can have a great experience with a real Christmas tree if you get a truly fresh-cut one that’s suited for our dry climate. The experience of going to a nursery or tree farm with you family is so much fun and your kids will think it’s awesome to drive home with a tree on top of your car. (Especially if you get a really big one – it makes Mom nervous, Dad proud, and the kids so excited.)
As far as where to get one, we had fun getting on at the Merry Christmas Tree Farm for several years, but as of a couple of years ago, they hadn’t planted any new trees in years and what’s left is pretty picked over (frankly, our last experience there wasn’t a lot of fun because the trees were so unshapely, and you can see from my pictures above that we don’t have to have a perfect tree). We are planning on getting a tree from Harding Nursery again. They have ones that are grown in southern Colorado and that’s the tree that we had in 2011 and loved. (They also have some that are imported so be sure to get the Colorado type!)
You can also cut down a tree in select areas of select national forests, and they are cheap – just ten bucks! Keep in mind that these trees are sparse, but again, whimsical can be fun, and it’s sure to be a fun family memory!