For many, the holiday season starts the second their Thanksgiving dinner has digested. And what better way to get into the holiday spirit than with a family outing to a local Christmas tree farm?
For the same amount of money (or less) as it would take to buy a plastic Christmas tree set-up, you can enjoy an evergreen of your own choosing, while also stimulating the local economy.
“We always have a lot of return customers,” said Bill Roy of Bill’s Christmas Tree Farm. “People seem to like firs and spruces, but don’t take my word for it. What looks good to me may not look good to you.” All the more reason to go out into nature and decide what would be the best centerpiece for your living room this December.
Many of the farms offer complimentary services ranging from cups of hot chocolate and cider to assistance with shaking, baling or cutting the tree; saw and twine loans; hay rides around the premises and gift shops. That being said, it would be wise to call ahead to see what supplies and services are offered, what forms of payment will be accepted and to check on the hours.
A good rule of thumb is that most places open the day after Thanksgiving and keep predominantly daytime weekend hours, and cash or check is the most common form of acceptable payment.
Here are some local Christmas tree farms.
Bill’s Christmas Tree Farm
Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Thanksgiving until Dec. 24., 3102 W. Miller Rd., Spring Grove, 847-770-1421 and 37280 N. Sheridan Rd., and weekdays Nov. 26 to Dec. 24, 8:30 a.m. to dusk or by appointment, 37280 N. Sheridan Rd., ain Beach Park, 847-623-1422.
Gengel Tree Farm
8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekends only, from Thanksgiving until Dec. 16, 38614 N. Fairfield Road, Lake Villa, 847-356-5661.
Prices start at $35 and vary by size and height.
Lake Cuchicachi Tree Farm
Day after Thanksgiving, weekends only until Dec. 16, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 19505 West State Line Rd., Antioch, 847-395-7919
Sullivan Family Christmas Tree Farm
Nov. 29 – Dec. 23, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., 24774 W. Petite Lake Rd., Lake Villa, 847-949-0172
Mention their Facebook page and receive a free hot chocolate and ornament with any tree.
Ben’s Christmas Tree Farm
Friday after Thanksgiving and weekends through Dec. 18, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7720 Ryan Road, Harvard, 630-279-0216.
Cal and Shan’s Christmas Tree Farm
Friday after Thanksgiving, then Saturday and Sunday until Dec. 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Two locations: 14216 Thayer Rd. and 3509 Lily Pond Rd., Woodstock, 815-648-2300.
Grizzy’s Tree Farm
Nov. 29 and 30 through last two weekends in Dec., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. , 15900 Marengo Rd., Union, 847-812-2961.
Grandpa’s Christmas Tree Farm
9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Nov. 23, 24, 25 and Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 13616 IL Route 176, Woodstock.
All trees $54 (shaking, baling and tax included).
Holly Jolly Tree Farm
Weekends and Dec. 12, 13 and 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., 4919 Bull Valley Road, McHenry,
Mt. Thabor Tree Farm
Fri., Nov. 23 and weekends through Dec. 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 4813 Mt Thabor Road, Woodstock, 815-338-6938.
Oney’s Tree Farm and Nursery
Nov. 23 through Dec. 14 daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 16608 Rte. 14, Woodstock, 855-804-3702.
Pioneer Tree Farm
Nov. 23, 24, 25 and Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 4614 Pioneer Road, McHenry, 815-385-8512.
All trees $45. Ten percent of tree sales donated to Environmental Defenders of McHenry County.
Richardson Christmas Trees
Nov. 23 to Dec. 23, daily, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., 9407 Richarson Rd., Spring Grove, 815 675-9729
10 a.m. to dusk Friday through Sunday Nov. 26 through Dec. 19
6129 W. Broadway, Richmond,
1. Display tree in water in a traditional reservoir-type stand to maintaining freshness and minimize needle loss.
2. Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don’t cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available.
3. Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go six to eight hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don’t bruise the cut surface or get it dirty.
4. Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.
7. Keep trees away from major sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process.
8. Using lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying of the tree. Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.
-National Christmas Tree